A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital’s Survival Rests on our Governor, Health Department

I am calling on Governor Eliot Spitzer to take immediate action to keep A. L. Lee Memorial Hospital in Fulton open. Just last month, Governor Spitzer stepped in with the State Health Department and prevented a similar facility located in downstate—Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry—from closing. My question is why can’t Gov. Spitzer and the State Health Department, which ultimately falls under his purview, do the same for the residents of Fulton and the surrounding Oswego County community?

A.L. Lee. Memorial provides life-saving care for thousands of families in Fulton and the surrounding communities, and its closure would be a devastating blow to our region. It’s time for the Governor to stand up for the people of Fulton, demonstrate leadership and show some compassion by keeping this vital facility open.

Our Governor consistently cites health care as one of his top priorities, but he’s done nothing to help keep this facility open. In fact, he’s just proposed a budget that slashes millions of dollars from hospitals, nursing homes and home care services throughout our region and across the State—including cuts of over $200 million to hospitals, $200 million to nursing homes and $80 million for long-term care.

In December 2006, the Berger Commission set forth their recommendations to reform the healthcare system in New York State. One of the goals of the commission was to “right-size” facilities according to needs. A.L. Lee Memorial was named as one of the hospitals that the Commission ordered to be “right-sized.” As you know, many of the reasons that the Commission stated for the proposed closing were skewed, such as portraying the hospital’s in-patient occupancy rate as underutilized when, in actuality, the hospitals occupancy rate is higher in comparison.

In an effort to prevent the Berger Commission’s recommendations from being enacted, I co-sponsored a resolution in the Assembly to reject the recommendations. Unfortunately, this resolution was blocked by Speaker Silver and was never brought to the floor of the Assembly for debate and vote. Pursuant to Assembly rules, a resolution to reject the Commission’s recommendation would have to be introduced by the Assembly Rules Committee, which is controlled by Speaker Silver. Further, Speaker Silver did not call for a special session to address this outstanding matter. With only a month between when the legislature needed to act on the recommendations before they were automatically implemented, calling for a special legislative session would give each legislator the ability to voice their opinion, by means of debate or vote.

Although this was a setback, I continue to work with the Department of Health, hospital officials and local leaders to find other solutions—one of which was to secure a legislative initiative in the amount of $45,000 for the hospital to conduct a feasibility study. The study would provide the hospital with an independent assessment that would help the hospital plot a strategy for the future that would allow it to continue the necessary medical care for the community, while at the same time address the concerns of the Berger Commission. The completed study recommended that the hospital implement a specialized care unit that would focus on disease management services and preventative measures that would be used as a community outreach to assist in keeping the community healthy. I believe this a sound plan that would most importantly maintain in-patient beds at the hospital.

The hospital’s Options Committee has made a clear case that this facility should remain open. It’s time for Governor Spitzer and his Health Department to take positive, constructive and immediate action to help keep this vital institution open.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding this or any other state matter, I can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, 13069, by e-mail at, barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us, or by phone at (315) 598-5185