Massena Memorial Hospital asking state for approval to close intensive care unit, convert ICU beds
Monday, August 19, 2019 - 7:42 pm

BY ANDY GARDNER

North Country This Week

MASSENA -- Massena Memorial Hospital is in the process of closing their intensive care unit (ICU) and using the beds for medical/surgical patients.

The Board of Managers on Monday night voted to file an application with the state to make the change.

Raylene North, MMH chief nursing officer, told the board that most of the patients admitted to the MMH ICU don't really need to be there.

"Of about 50 ICU status patients, of that about 25 percent actually meet what we consider ICU status," North told the MMH board. "We get into an issue where we have to worry about being able to provide that care for such a small population here."

MMH CEO David Bender estimated the change will save the financially struggling hospital about $1 million per year.

"This is not unusual for rural hospitals ... it happened at Gouverneur (Hospital), obviously. It's a necessary step, from my perspective," the CEO said.

North said they will still have critical care nurses on staff. Patients who require ICU care will be stabilized and transferred to an appropriate facility.

That could be a tertiary care center for more serious cases, such as University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, Vt.

Some less serious cases will go to Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, and others to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, North said.

Dr. Michael Maresca, an MMH Board of Managers trustee who is also Canton-Potsdam Hospital's chief medical officer, said there have been big changes in the way ICU care is handled and its best left to hospitals that specialize in it.

"What they're doing in ICUs is way different than what they were doing 10 years ago," he said.