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Massena Memorial Hospital watching dollars when recruiting physicians

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MASSENA — Massena Memorial Hospital is watching its dollars when it comes to recruiting physicians because of its financial situation, according to Chief Executive Officer Charles F. Fahd II.

“We’re attempting to be careful about the types of dollars that we are shelling out for these physicians to join us,” Mr. Fahd told the board of managers this week.

He said the hospital can employ the physician, it can set a physician up for a private practice or the doctor can work directly for another physician.

The discussion came up when board member Paul B. Morrow questioned why the hospital had not yet recruited a particular physician who had contacted it and indicated he was interested in coming to Massena four days a month from Plattsburgh.

Mr. Fahd said when it hires new physicians for its staff, there is an initial outlay of funding by the hospital.

“It takes months for them to ramp up the practice. During the ramp-up time, there’s not a lot of dollars coming in, but there’s a whole bunch of dollars going out,” he said.

“Given the fact that we’re losing a half a million dollars a year, it does not seem to be the best time to start shelling out. We have to have it to spend it,” Mr. Fahd said.

Mr. Morrow suggested the hospital could borrow money in the interim.

“We know if we spend $500,000 — OK, we have to borrow money — we know he’s going to return that in the next year, year and a half,” he said.

But Mr. Fahd said he preferred not to go that route.

“That would obviously be a board decision. I don’t want to get into borrowing money to bring physicians in because we’ve never done that,” he said.

Consultants have suggested that because of Massena Memorial Hospital’s financial troubles, it should switch from a municipal hospital to a nonprofit facility.

They predicted that maintaining the status quo would mean the hospital would go bankrupt in 2017.

The hospital’s board of managers has already decided that becoming a nonprofit would open up more financial avenues for the hospital and stave off that impending bankruptcy. The board has forwarded that recommendation to the Town Council for its review and action. The town board has the ultimate say in the hospital’s status.

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