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New York town government learns of local hospital partnership after the fact

The Town Board of Massena, N.Y. had repeatedly asked administrators at Massena Memorial Hospital about the status of a potential partnership with another local hospital, but only learned a final decision had been made after reading about it in the newspaper, according to the Watertown Daily News.

Massena Memorial and Ogdensburg, N.Y.-based Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center/North Star Health Alliance hope to develop an affiliation as Massena Memorial transitions to a nonprofit facility. Massena Town Supervisor Steven D. O'Shaughnessy said the long-awaited announcement took him by surprise.

"I found out by reading the article that they had decided to affiliate with Crouse. The town board had asked several times about the status of that," said Mr. O'Shaughnessy. "They said they hadn't done anything. The last executive board meeting, Sam [Carbone] and I attended, I asked, ‘Where are we at with affiliation?’ They had no real answer for me. Unbeknownst to us, they decided in an executive session."

While the hospital's interim CEO Charles Gijanto said he believes the affiliation agreement is "an important step in the process of ensuring that Massena Memorial Hospital is a healthy North Country institution for years to come," Mr. O'Shaughnessy said the county ultimately has control over the partnership because the hospital is municipally owned.

"All they can do is make a recommendation. It’s our hospital, and we decide who to sell to and who we affiliate with. It's not the hospital’s hospital. We’re the ones that make all the decisions," said Mr. O'Shaughnessy.

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