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Glens Falls Hospital

Glens Falls Hospital

We found out last week that we are not the only ones who found Glens Falls Hospital’s current financial situation perplexing.

During a meeting of the Warren County Board of Supervisors last Friday, a number of supervisors raised concerns about what was happening at the hospital. Many of them were among the community leaders who accepted a private invitation last month to attend a presentation by the hospital’s chief executive officer, Dianne Shugrue, about the financial challenges the hospital is facing.

But recent reports by our newspaper about problems with a new billing system that cost the hospital $38 million in revenues didn’t jibe with what the supervisors heard from Shugrue during that presentation.

During a public meeting, some of the supervisors criticized the way the hospital has withheld information about its problems.

One supervisor, Michael Wild of Queensbury, called hospital leaders “disingenuous” for not addressing the billing as the most serious problem it was facing, and instead, blaming reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

We call it a “head-scratcher.”

While the hospital was initially forthcoming with financial data from the past few years to the newspaper, that flow of information slowed to a trickle after Post-Star reporters started asking about the billing problem.

The newspaper previously reported that an independent audit found that problems with a new billing system had cost the hospital $38 million. But that issue was not brought up during the hospital presentation on Feb. 28.

That irked Wild and some of the other supervisors, and frankly it irks us as well.

After the Feb. 28 meeting, Shugrue told Post-Star’s editor, Ken Tingley, that the hospital’s situation was “dire.”

Yet, in a paid advertisement published in the Sunday Post-Star, a signed letter from Shugrue said that, “Glens Falls Hospital is not closing, and we are not going out of business. Our cash flow and balance sheet are strong, out debt is manageable, our expenses well controlled.”

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You can see why we — and some of the supervisors — are perplexed.

There are many questions that need to be addressed about why the losses grew so large.

Were there any concerns about the system before it went live?

When did hospital management learn of the problems and what did they do to address it?

How much total money was lost from Nov. 2016 until the present due to the billing system?

How many jobs did this ultimately cost the community?

We understand that a confidentiality agreement may be in place that will limit the details, but these are broad questions and the answers need to be communicated to the community at large.

We are also concerned about the silence from the 17 members (see box) of Glens Falls Hospital’s Board of Governors. It is their responsibility to ensure the financial well-being of the institution. They need to speak up.

A Post-Star reporter has contacted 15 of the 17 board members, but none of those contacted will speak on the record about the hospital, its management or finances.

We believe it is their responsibility to do so now.

Peter McDevitt, representing Glens Falls’ 2nd Ward and a member of the Health and Human Services Committee on the county Board of Supervisors, invited hospital leadership to meet with the supervisors next week.

The meeting would have been open to the public and the press.

Last week, Glens Falls Hospital’s spokeswoman Katelyn Cinzio acknowledged that the hospital would be happy to meet with the supervisors and clarify its finances.

But by Tuesday, hospital officials appeared to have changed their minds. Tracy Mills, vice president of planning for Glens Falls Hospital, declined the invitation on the behalf of herself and CEO Shugrue. They suggested it would be more productive if they met the supervisors behind closed doors.

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Post-Star editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star’s editorial board, which consists of Interim Publisher Brian Corcoran, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representatives Jean Aurilio, Connie Bosse and Barbara Sealy.

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