David Bender, a veteran health care executive who oversaw the turnaround of Gouverneur Hospital after its acquisition by St. Lawrence Health System, has been named CEO of Massena Memorial Hospital
Bender’s appointment was approved by the Massena Memorial Hospital Board of Directors Thursday evening as a first step to implement a new management agreement with St. Lawrence Health System.
The management agreement, announced Thursday, is a major step forward in finding ways to improve MMH’s finances while ensuring continued high-quality health care in Massena and the region.
“I’m gratified by this appointment and look forward to working with the great staff at Massena Memorial, the Board and my colleagues at St. Lawrence Health System in a unified effort to right the ship here in Massena. There is much work to be done and we’re eager to create a turnaround plan that the state can approve and we can all be proud of,” Bender said. Under terms of the management agreement, which has been approved by the New York State Department of Health (DOH), St. Lawrence must present a turnaround plan to MMH and DOH within a month.
Massena Memorial’s interim CEO, Patrick Facteau, will return to his prior role as the hospital’s Chief Financial Officer.
From 2012 through December of 2013, Mr. Bender served as vice president for strategic planning and business development with the creation of St. Lawrence Health System in December of 2013, he performed that same role for the System. In this capacity he was responsible for the organization’s strategic planning process, new business development initiatives, and the operations of the hospital’s 20 provider-based clinics as well as other related departments.
Bender, a resident of Canton, brings decades of experience solving health care challenges. Since January 2017 until recently, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Gouverneur Hospital, a critical access hospital located in Gouverneur, NY. Since 2013 Mr. Bender has led the successful turnaround of Gouverneur Hospital.
From 2009 through 2012, Bender served as a senior strategy consultant with OptumInsight, most recently in the firm’s Accountable Care Solutions practice, where he led projects with health systems supporting efforts to initiate Accountable Care Organizations.
He was also a vice president with OptumInsight/Ingenix Consulting’s Strategy and Governance Practice, where he led strategy projects for solo hospitals and hospital systems. Between 2006 and 2009, he led the Provider Practice at The Lewin Group, now a subsidiary of Optum. In this role Bender was responsible in overseeing The Lewin Group’s hospital and health system- related strategic engagements.
At present, Bender also serves as President of the Accountable Care Organization of the North Country and on the board of directors for the Gouverneur Volunteer Rescue Squad.
He takes the reins of Massena Memorial at a critical time. St. Lawrence Health System previously conducted an assessment of Massena Memorial Hospital’s finances and operations. The assessment found:
• A review of hospital performance since 2011 distinctly portrays a hospital suffering from the consequences of a declining local economy. Net patient service revenues are for the most part flat, yet expenses continue to grow.
• Like most other rural hospitals across the country, Massena Memorial has seen a sharp decline in utilization, including a 50.4 percent decline in average daily census from 2008 through 2018.
• In conjunction with this decline of core service utilization, a corresponding degradation of financial performance occurred. Net patient service revenues failed to grow materially while expenses rose, resulting in significant and unsustainable operating losses.
• The scale and effect of these ongoing operating losses have been masked to some degree by non-recurring other operating revenue infusions in three of the last five years. From 2014 through 2016 MMH received in excess of $13.2M from NYS in distressed hospital funding.
• MMH has $7 million in accounts payable, in addition to being millions of dollars behind in payments to the New York State and Local Retirement System.
• Actions taken to date include an application to obtain Critical Access Hospital (CAH) status from the New York State Department of Health – a move that could mean a net revenue gain of $2.6 million annually.