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Health Department assists E.J. Noble

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GOUVERNEUR — The state Health Department is providing E.J. Noble Hospital with a loan to help it restructure.

The Health Department is offering the troubled hospital a $2 million Health Facility Restructuring loan, spokesman Bill Schwarz wrote in an email.

Mr. Schwarz did not provide additional details on the loan or on whether the hospital is in line for additional funding.

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said the loan is another step in the hospital’s road to recovery as it not only provides needed short-term financing but shows the Health Department is willing to invest in the future of the facility.

“It’s great news that this has been put in place,” she said. “It gives the hospital operating cash so it can stay open to provide health care to the community and also keep as many people working as possible.”

The hospital, already financially fragile, has struggled since the Health Department shut down its laboratory for deficiencies Sept. 28. Although a partial reopening of the lab was allowed later under the supervision of Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, E.J. Noble’s blood bank remains closed, preventing it from offering many services, including most surgeries and a maternity ward.

Mr. Schwarz had no new information on when the blood bank might reopen.

“The department continues to work with the hospital regarding its laboratory services,” he wrote in his email.

The hospital’s restructuring board was put in place Feb. 20, Mr. Schwarz said.

The Health Department previously approved a management services agreement between E.J. Noble and Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam, which is also subject to approval by the E.J. Noble bondholder, the National Automatic Sprinkler Pension Fund. Lee O. Smith, investment adviser with Hartland Asset Management, the agent for the pension fund, did not return a phone call for comment on the status of the agreement.

Canton-Potsdam spokeswoman Rebecca J. Faber declined comment, citing a confidentiality agreement.

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