Massena Memorial Hospital saved as U.S. voters back transfer

In this December 2014, file photo, the Massena Memorial Hospital in Massena, N.Y. Voters have overwhelmingly approved the sale and transfer of the hospital on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 to St. Lawrence Health System, which operates the hospitals in Canton-Potsdam and Gouverneur, N.Y. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

MASSENA, N.Y. – Voters overwhelming backed a referendum on Tuesday night to transfer the assets of Massena Memorial Hospital to an organization running two other hospitals in the North Country.

The result has saved the hospital from closure and the town losing hundreds of jobs.

The unofficial results from St. Lawrence County in the Nov. 5 U.S. election shows nearly 92 per cent of voters said “yes” to Proposition Number One while 8 per cent voted “no”. A total of 2,137 votes were cast.

The question was: “Shall the Town of Massena transfer the real estate used in the operations of Massena Memorial Hospital to the St. Lawrence Health System or an entity controlled thereby?”

Massena Memorial Hospital has been losing money and would be closed without the transfer to the St. Lawrence Health System, which runs the Canton-Potsdam Hospital and the Gouverneur Hospital.

The “yes” vote means the community has saved its local health care facility and the jobs of roughly 400 people who work there. Massena Memorial is the second-largest employer in the town.

The hospital board, Massena Town Council and St. Lawrence Health System had an agreement to convert the hospital from public to a not-for-profit private facility, but the sale and transfer had to be endorsed by voters.

As part of the sale and transfer, the Massena hospital will get $20 million from the New York Department of Health plus St. Lawrence Health System will inject $8 million into the operations.

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