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Massena Memorial Hospital. Photo: p4hinc.com
Massena Memorial Hospital. Photo: p4hinc.com

Why keep Massena Memorial Hospital public?

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A group campaigning to stop Massena Memorial Hospital from privatizing has collected more than 500 petition signatures. They're trying to convince town leaders to retain hospital ownership.

Because it's government-owned, Massena Memorial is one of a few hospitals in New York that currently pays into the state pension system. Hospital leaders say pension costs have been rising at an unsustainable rate, and they could save millions of dollars by changing the ownership structure.

Mark Kotzin is leading the charge against the change. He's spokesperson for the Civil Service Employees Association, which represents about 200 employees at the hospital.

Kotzin says government-ownership is better for the community than privatizing the facility.

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Reported by

Julie Grant
Reporter and Producer

MK: Well, there's many concerns. First of all, right now, the hospital belongs to the community. Everybody who lives and pay taxes in Massena owns a piece of that hospital, and they have a say in how the hospital is run, what services are provided, and it serves as a safety net facility. That is, people who don't have the means to afford care in the community will still receive care, because this is a community based hospital. And a lot of our people are concerned that if the hospital goes private, any operator that just has earning a profit or keeping in the black as a concern may not offer as many health care services, may have to turn people away who cannot afford payment. And we're really concerned that this hospital may not be there in the future if it goes private.

JG: Is that really a concern in New York, the state doesn't even allow for profit hospitals?

MK: It's not about for profit, necessarily. It's about companies purchasing an operation that doesn't necessarily have to make money, but has to stay in the black so they can afford to keep it operating. And one of the chief ways they do that, is cutting back on services or paying a lot less for the employees, offering them fewer benefits, and by doing so, you get an negative impact on the quality of care that's offered at the hospital. You don't have the long term workers, you don't have people that are in it to really do a great job because they know they're in it for a long time. And the quality of care could suffer.

JG: What do you say to administrators at the Massena Memorial Hospital who would say if you want to maintain this facility, it has to be affordable, and we cannot afford this anymore?

MK: There's ways to find cost savings, there's way to lower health care costs, there's ways to lower the pension costs. Many of these problems are short term problems. But you don't want to get rid of a short term problem with a long term solution that will decrease the quality or availability of care in the future. So we have some short term solutions that can work here, but they have to provide a long term stability to the facility. We are going to do our best working with community partners, working with the hospital administration, to find ways to make sure this facility is viable in the future. What we are doing is asking people to do is educate themselves on the process, and recognize that there are a lot of people in this community that don't want to give up on this hospital, and there's no need to give up on this hospital right now.

 

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