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E.J. Noble Hospital to get new board

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GOUVERNEUR — A restructuring board will take over the leadership of E.J. Noble Hospital to review its operations and determine future services.

Although details remain vague, most if not all of the old board will step down. New members will have the experience and skill to address the hospital’s situation and to develop a strategy toward making E. J. Noble viable.

“The E.J. Noble Board concluded, and the Department of Health concurs, in what it firmly believes is in the best interests of the hospital’s future, to form a restructuring board to manage and lead the institution’s restructuring efforts — financially and operationally,” Health Department spokesman Bill Schwarz said in an email.

Timothy J. Monroe, who had been the board chairman, declined comment, even as to whether he remains on the board.

Dr. Monroe, a veterinarian, apparently handed in his resignation more than a week ago.

Mr. Schwarz said he did not have details on how the transition will take place but said that the old board saw the need for leaders that could develop and execute a comprehensive strategy to assure the hospital’s near-term and on-going survival.

“They’ve opted to step down,” he said. “It was the board’s conclusion that this was a sensible plan.”

The Health Department shut down the hospital’s laboratory for deficiencies Sept. 28, then later allowed a partial reopening. E.J. Noble’s blood bank remains closed, preventing the hospital from providing many services, including most surgeries and a maternity ward.

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

“E.J. Noble continues to address the lab deficiencies identified; the lab is authorized to provide limited services at this time,” he said. “Samaritan Medical Center continues to provide technical assistance to the E.J. Noble lab function.”

The Health Department approved a management services agreement between E.J. Noble and Canton-Potsdam Hospital 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, was unavailable for comment on the status of the agreement.

The hospital — already hurting for revenue — has been in a precarious financial position because of its loss of services and patients. The new board’s role will be to identify the hospital’s losses, income and waste, Mr. Schwarz said. The board will also focus on identifying and requesting short-term financial help, Mr. Schwarz said.

Former Administrator Charles P. Conole resigned in December. The change in board membership also marks a turn for the hospital,

Attorney Henry J. Leader did not return a call for comment on whether he remains on the board as its current chairman.

Kinney Foundation Board President Mark L. Brackett, Kinney Drugs Vice President Michael J. Burgess, and United Helpers Chief Executive Officer Stephen E. Knight did not return calls for comment on whether they have been asked to serve on the board.

Gouverneur dentist Nicholas F. Gardner said he was asked to join the board Jan. 29.

“There has been no further action since,” he said.

Dr. Gardner said his membership on the board remains uncertain.

“There’s some things that need to be ironed out before that happens,” he said.

Dr. Gardner referred other questions to attorney Janice Grubin, a specialist in restructuring of nonprofit organizations. She did not return a phone call.

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