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Massena Memorial Hospital in talks with Massachusetts company about dialysis center operation

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MASSENA — Massena Memorial Hospital is in preliminary discussions with a Massachusetts-based company to take over operation of its renal dialysis unit, 290 Main St.

“It’s all in the initial discussions,” hospital spokeswoman Tina R. Corcoran said. “They’ve been evaluating it. They just initiated the discussion.”

Hospital officials initiated discussions with American Renal Associates LLC, Beverly, Mass., about the potential operation of the dialysis center. She said company officials and hospital administration met last week with MMH Dialysis Center Medical Director Darlena James and staff “to talk about the benefits and plans of partnering with American Renal in the future.”

She described the move as “part of a continued strategic financial initiative for the hospital’s future.” Hospital officials are currently exploring their options to stave off potential bankruptcy in 2017, including the conversion of the facility from a municipal hospital to a nonprofit organization. If the status quo remains, hospital officials say they will not have sufficient funds to remain open by 2017.

American Renal, which was organized 14 years ago, operated 155 centers in 23 states and the District of Columbia. It recently acquired the dialysis operations of hospitals in Plattsburgh and Elizabeth, and is in the administrative process of acquiring an additional unidentified north country hospital dialysis program in the coming months.

Massena hospital officials said American Renal “brings the complete range of disciplines and resources necessary for the successful development and operation of high quality dialysis programs including clinical, regulatory, technical, quality assurance, billing and reimbursement, general accounting, human resource, purchasing, marketing, legal counsel and compliance.”

Patients would not notice a change if American Renal took over operation of the facility, according to Ms. Corcoran, who said Ms. James has been and will continue to update patients as the hospital moves forward with discussions.

“There’s been no change for the patient,” she said.

She said company officials also have indicated the key to continued success will be to retain the center’s staff.

“They understand that the expertise that our staff has is important for the program to continue; that for the success we have, it’s very important to maintain the staff we have,” Ms. Corcoran said.

Since it’s in the initial stages, she said there is “a lot more discussion” that must still take place before a decision is made. And, if a decision is made to allow American Renal to take over the operations, other processes would be necessary, such as submitting a Certificate of Need for state Department of Health approval.

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