Feds deny New York hospital's application for CAH status

In an effort to save millions annually, Massena (N.Y.) Memorial Hospital applied in April to gain status as a critical access hospital. On Dec. 23, the town-owned hospital confirmed CMS denied its application.

A hospital spokeswoman told WWNY the facility did not meet one of the rules for CAHs in being more than 35 miles away from another facility. Canton-Potsdam (N.Y.) Hospital and Massena Memorial are closer than 35 miles.

The system's board unanimously voted in April to seek CAH status to save $3.5 million per year as part of a multipart turnaround effort. Following that vote, the Massena town council and board approved the sale of the hospital in November to St. Lawrence Health System, which owns the nearby Canton-Potsdam Hospital. That transaction is set to take effect Jan. 1, according to NNY360

Massena Memorial also has 50 beds — twice the maximum for CAH requirements — but interim CEO Pat Facteau said the hospital was averaging 17 patients a day at the time it applied, which he expected to help the hospital qualify. (Editor's note: Since the hospital applied in April, David Bender was named CEO of the hospital in June.) 

"We are deeply disappointed by this decision, strongly disagree with it and will appeal through any and all possible avenues," hospital officials said in a statement, according to WWNY. "This decision does not change our commitment to this community and, despite the $3.5 million annual financial hit, we will continue to move forward providing the people of Massena with access to quality healthcare for years to come."

CMS requires eligible CAH hospitals to have 25 or fewer acute care inpatient beds; be more than 35 miles from another hospital, although exceptions may apply; maintain an annual average length of stay of 96 hours or less for acute care patients; and provide 24/7 emergency care.

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