A snag has developed in Oswego Health’s plans to buy and renovate the closed Lee Memorial Hospital to house more medical services.
Bankrupt Lee Memorial doesn’t own the land the hospital building sits on.
Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward said Monday that he was recently approached by a member of Lee Memorial’s board of directors, local attorney Fred Sumner. He said Sumner told him that Oswego Health’s offer to buy the hospital is being held up by the judge in Lee Memorial’s bankruptcy case.
The judge wants the issue of who owns the land to be cleared up before approving the sale of the land.
Woodward said that in 1974, when Lee Memorial moved into its new facility, the city turned over operation of the hospital and ownership of the land beneath it to a private board of directors. Part of that agreement included a clause that if Lee Memorial should ever stop being a hospital, the land would revert to the city.
Lee Memorial closed last year after state legislators approved a commission’s report ordering several hospitals across the state to be closed or downsized to save money.
Oswego Health recently held an event to reveal plans to renovate the hospital so that additional medical services could be moved to the facility, which houses an urgent care center that saw 19,000 patients in its first year. The state is providing $18 million to help pay for the renovation.
Oswego Health officials, including CEO Ann Gilpin, attended a closed-door executive session with city lawmakers and the city attorney last week to discuss the issue.
Woodward would like to trade the title for a guarantee that the $18,000 in Lee Memorial’s unpaid water and sewer fees will be paid. “Probably, if we don’t release that title (to the land), Oswego Health’s going to go away,” he said. The city will likely get only pennies on the dollar for its unpaid bills through the bankruptcy proceeding.
“What I hope doesn’t happen is that it goes down because people are mad about the hospital closing,” he said. “I think we need to get on with life and we need to have the best health care in Fulton and that’s where it’s going to be.”
City lawmakers may hold a public hearing at next Tuesday’s meeting to gather pubic input on the issue.