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New York State Department of Health Approves Plan for Carthage Area Hospital to Close its Skilled Nursing Unit

Hospital to Relocate Residents; Staff have Opportunities for Reassignment

The New York State Department of Health today approved a plan for Carthage Area Hospital to close its Skilled Nursing Unit and begin a process of transferring residents to other local skilled nursing facilities in the region.

The hospital submitted a plan to the Department of Health in late March to close its Skilled Nursing Unit, citing long-term financial challenges brought by changing state and federal mandates. The hospital’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the closure plan before it reached state officials.

Numerous regulations with which nursing homes must comply have tightened financial pressures on facilities like the one at the hospital. Escalating costs have also driven smaller skilled nursing homes that lack economies of scale to evaluate efficiencies and make difficult business decisions. This, combined with declining cost-based reimbursement for services provided to nursing home residents, has made the hospital’s decision essential.

“Despite our unwavering commitment to quality resident care, it has grown evident in recent years that we are unable to continue to operate the unit,” said Rich Duvall, Carthage Area Hospital chief executive officer. “This decision, while heart-wrenching, will strengthen the long-term viability of Carthage Area Hospital for our communities and the many patients we serve.”

As articulated in its closure plan, Duvall underscored the hospital’s commitment to relocate each of its residents to other local facilities whenever possible in order to reduce stress on residents and families.

“We are saddened that our residents will have to be relocated,” Duvall said. “Our team will help each resident and his or her family through this process in an attempt to make the transition as seamless as possible.”

Each of the hospital’s Skilled Nursing Unit’s 23 residents has been notified, as have their family members. Hospital staff is working with nearby facilities, including the 90-bed Country Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Centre adjacent to the hospital, to facilitate relocations.

Lewis County General Hospital’s 160-bed Residential Health Care Facility is another local facility that has offered to help. Michele Prince, interim chief executive officer in Lowville, pledged support to Carthage Hospital in its “request to the NYS DOH to close your Skilled Nursing Unit.”

“Our residential Health Care Facility is a family-oriented facility offering warm, state-of-the-art, comfortable care to individuals who need long-term or short-term 24-hour a day care,” Prince wrote in an April 3 letter to Carthage Hospital’s CEO.

Carthage Hospital has also sought support from leadership at Watertown’s Samaritan Health. Should space become available in one of the Samaritan facilities, the leadership there has offered to help.

Meanwhile, Carthage Hospital remains committed to delivering the highest quality resident care until its last resident is transferred.

“This decision will not impact the quality of our resident care or the compassion with which our staff provides care to our residents,” Duvall said. “Our team is fully invested until each resident is safely transferred.”


Impact to Carthage Hospital staff

The hospital’s Skilled Nursing Unit presently employees a full-time staff of 17, a part-time staff of four and a per diem staff of three. All employees except one manager are each members of the Upstate/WNY Division of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East-New York. Hospital and labor union leadership are working together on opportunities for staff reassignments in other hospital departments.

“This move is not about eliminating jobs to save money,” Duvall said. “In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We remain optimistic that we have the potential to preserve jobs. It is a process that all parties are committed to seeing through.”

The hospital has identified several open positions throughout the organization at various skill levels and plans to offer new positions and/or transfers to those affected by the unit closure. The total number of job losses, if any, won’t be calculated until reassignments are confirmed and all Skilled Nursing Unit patients are transferred.

Hospital leadership has also garnered support from state legislative leaders, including Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush, R-Black River, who said he would work to help the hospital limit the number of displaced workers.


About Carthage Area Hospital

Carthage Area Hospital was established as a not-for-profit rural community hospital in 1965. It operates today as a fully accredited 25-bed Critical Access Hospital, serving approximately 83,000 residents in Jefferson, northern Lewis and southern St. Lawrence counties.

The hospital also operates a network of community-based clinics, including its Family Health Center, Pediatric Clinic and Women’s Way to Wellness and provides a range of specialty care, including general surgery, orthopedics, urology, physical therapy and behavioral health.


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Carthage Area Hospital Posts Positive Operating Performance, Board of Directors Approves Calendar Year Financial Audit

Hospital Closes 2016 with Operating Profit, Trend Continues in First Quarter

Carthage Area Hospital’s audited financial statements for calendar year 2016 report an operating profit of $432,188, the first time since 2009 that the organization has posted positive year-end operating performance.

The Board of Directors approved the calendar year 2016 audit during its monthly meeting in May. The hospital ended calendar year 2015 with an operating deficit of approximately $1.9 million. Hospital leadership attributes the financial improvement to continued stabilization since restructuring operations as well as increased utilization, especially in specialty care.

Operating income continues to show a positive trend in 2017. Quarterly operating profits at Carthage Area Hospital were $123,482 in the first quarter of 2017 compared to $839 for the same period last year. It is the first time since 2009 that the hospital posted an operating profit in successive months of a single quarter.

“While we are pleased with our continued positive financial results as we move into 2017, we are mindful of the work that must continue to cement a long-term sustainable future,” Carthage Area Hospital CEO Rich Duvall said.

Duvall added that evaluating service lines and hospital programs for efficiencies and financial wellness is an ongoing process that will ensure the organization’s continued fiscal health.

“Team members at all levels are encouraged to innovate in ways that transcend organizational health,” he said. “We can no longer assume that profitable service lines will cover our losses in areas that aren’t profitable. Our recent positive financial performance, while exceptional given how far we’ve come, does not insulate us from difficult decisions in the future.”

Duvall noted that the hospital’s capacity to serve the region is positive as it continues to invest profits from operations back into the organization to improve equipment and services.

“Our providers and patient services remain strong,” he said. “We are ready and open to accommodate and respond to a wide range of patient care that our communities demand.”


About Carthage Area Hospital

Carthage Area Hospital was established as a not-for-profit rural community hospital in 1965. It operates today as a fully accredited 25-bed Critical Access Hospital, serving approximately 83,000 residents in Jefferson, northern Lewis and southern St. Lawrence counties.

The hospital also operates a network of community-based clinics, including its Family Health Center, Pediatric Clinic and Women’s Way to Wellness and provides a range of specialty care, including general surgery, orthopedics, urology, physical therapy and behavioral health.

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Sweet Music Echoed Support for the American Heart Association at Carthage Area Hospital’s 2nd Annual Karaoke Contest

With 30 acts and more than 100 people in attendance, the 2nd annual “Sing Your Heart Out” Karaoke Contest was a hit with karaoke lovers and spectators alike. Approximately $1,100 was raised from entry fees, donations, and a 50/50 raffle for the American Heart Association.

The contest kicked off at 7:30 p.m. at Savory Downtown, Watertown. Carthage Area Hospital Marketing Director Taylour L. Scanlin and Tunes 92.5 FM’s DJ Johnny Keegan opened the night with a short rendition of “Don’t go breaking my heart,” by Elton John. Karaoke was provided by Constant Velocity DJ Service.

Contestants competed for top prizes, including “Best Solo,” “Best Duo,” and “Most Entertaining.” They were scored based on vocal ability, stage presence, and crowd response. Celebrity judges sat on the sideline while offering their opinions on several acts. Judges included Stacy Spaziani American Heart and Stroke Association regional director; ABC 50 TV personality Alex Hazard; and local musician Chris LaVancha.



Best Solo – Gabrielle Daniels, Watertown – “Hallelujah” by Alexandra Burke – $100

Best Duo – Bill Blunden, Carthage, and Danielle Campbell, Harrisville – “Love Shack” by the B-52’s – $50/person

Most Entertaining – Jessica Whitemore, Black River – “Last Dance” by Donna Summer – $50


“Carthage Area Hospital has been a strong supporter of the North Country Heart Walk and American Heart Association. We all had a great time and are incredibly grateful for their donation,” said Stacy Spaziani, Regional Director of the American Heart and Stroke Association.

Sponsors included Tunes 92.5 FM, Savory Downtown, and ABC 50 TV and Constant Velocity DJ Service.

Carthage Area Hospital is a major sponsor of the North Country Heart Walk and raises money throughout the entire year to support the cause.

This year’s Heart Walk takes place Saturday, April 29 at Jefferson Community College, 1220 Coffeen St., Watertown. Visit to learn more about the North Country Heart Walk, sponsor a team, or join the effort today. The Heart Walk is one of the largest single-day fundraisers for the American Heart and Stroke Association, raising more than $250,000 annually. This year’s fundraising goal is $280,000.


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Sing Your Heart Out for Heart Disease at Carthage Area Hospital’s 2nd Annual Karaoke Contest

It’s time to sing your heart out for heart disease at the 2nd Annual “Sing Your Heart Out” Karaoke Contest on Friday, April 7, 2017, at Savory Downtown starting at 7:30 p.m. to benefit the North Country Heart Walk.

Karaoke lovers are invited to belt out their favorite tune for cash prizes. Contestants can win $100 for “Best Solo Performance;” $50/person for “Best Duet,” and $50 for “Most Entertaining.” However, if singing isn’t your forte, the public is invited to sit back and enjoy a night of entertainment for a great cause.

Singers and spectators can RSVP online at, call 315-519-5211 or email with their name, phone number, and song choice, if applicable. Singers must submit their song choice ahead of time to ensure the DJ has the song available. If a song is not chosen ahead of time, the contestant will have to pick from the DJ’s list of available songs. Admission for singers and spectators is $10/person or $15/couple.

Tunes 92.5 FM’s DJ Johnny Keegan and Carthage Area Hospital’s Marketing Director and local singer Taylour Scanlin will host the event. There will also be celebrity judges. Judges include Alex Hazard from ABC50 TV, Chris LaVancha, local musician and Stacy Spaziani, North Country Heart Walk organizer.

Sponsors include Tunes 92.5 FM, Savory Downtown, and ABC50. Constant Velocity will provide DJ services.

Carthage Area Hospital is a major sponsor of the North Country Heart Walk and raises money throughout the entire year to support the cause.

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Carthage Area Hospital Foundation Sets the Stage with Comedy Night

The Carthage Area Hospital Foundation is proud to host its 9th annual Comedy Night Show on Saturday, April 1, at the Carthage Elks Lodge, 511 Fulton St.

Comedy Night is a live, fall-out-of-your-seat laugh fest that features the incredible hilarious comedic talents of two national and New York City circuit comedians.

The event continues to gain traction as an evening of community fellowship and laughter with proceeds benefitting the Carthage Area Hospital Foundation. Money raised from this year’s event has been earmarked to purchase a GE Panda Infant Warmer for the Hospital’s Obstetric (OB) Unit.

The evening kicks off with a “mix-and-mingle” happy hour followed by an Italian-themed buffet dinner prepared by Chef Kyle Pleskach.

Event host and Carthage native Matt Rohr will provide witty banter and laughs with professional comedians Vinnie Mark and Kevin Downey Jr. who will keep the crowd roaring with their sidesplitting comedic style.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with a “mix-and-mingle” hour to get the “funny bones” nice and loose; Italian-themed buffet dinner at 6:30 p.m. and featured show at 7:30 p.m.

Comedy Night is made possible through the generous support of Slack Chemical, presenting sponsor, and many other business partners, including: Caskinette’s Ford, CREG Systems, Promised Land Retreat Center & Leeann’s Therapeutic Massage, Community Bank, Bousquet Holstein PLLC, Burke Group, Northern Credit Union, AmeriCU Credit Union, Bowers & Company CPAs, Fuller Insurance Agency, and Barrett Paving Materials.

Tickets for 250 guests are on sale through the Carthage Area Hospital Foundation, 315-493-0114, or e-mail The deadline to RSVP is Tuesday, March 28.

The Carthage Area Hospital Foundation is a not-for-profit, charitable corporation that promotes charitable gifts to ensure continued excellence in community healthcare. The Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that the Carthage area retains a local hospital that delivers quality, primary healthcare to the local community and its neighbors.

Carthage Area Hospital was established as a not-for-profit rural community hospital in 1965. It operates today as a fully accredited 25-bed Critical Access Hospital, serving approximately 83,000 residents in Jefferson, northern Lewis and southern St. Lawrence counties.


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Families Rest Easy With Carthage Area Hospital Auxiliary Donation

Thanks to a generous gift from the Carthage Area Hospital Auxiliary, family members of those admitted for inpatient care can comfortably rest alongside their loved ones.

In December, the Hospital’s Auxiliary announced that it would donate $10,000 to purchase equipment or supplies aimed at improving patient care and the healthcare experience. Through an internal needs assessment, hospital staff determined that the purchase of sleeper chairs for patient rooms would bolster the family-friendly environment of Carthage Area Hospital.

The Auxiliary donation financed six hospital-grade sleeper chairs from Stryker, a Kalamazoo, Mich.-based medical equipment supplier, which were delivered in early 2017 and placed in patient rooms. Like a traditional sofa bed, each chair easily folds out to a 6-foot-long twin bed that comfortably sleeps a single adult. Previously, the Hospital had only one sleeper chair.

Carthage Area Hospital Acute Inpatient Unit Nurse Manager Steve Hartley, R.N., said such thoughtful accommodation helps to reduce stress on patients, their family members and visitors, which often leads to improved patient outcomes.

“It’s much easier when you have the right equipment in place,” Hartley said. “A nurturing environment where family members are not pressured to leave adds a sense of calm.”

Caring for patients’ families is a hallmark of service at Carthage Area Hospital. Family members who wish to stay at the hospital with their loved ones need only ask Hospital staff and a sleeper chair will be moved into their room and made into a bed for them with clean linens and pillows.

Carthage Area Hospital Auxiliary Vice President Michel Camidge said the sleep chairs have already made an impact on families and proven a worthwhile investment.

“The Auxiliary is proud help the Hospital improve its accommodations for patients and family members, especially when it means extra comfort during difficult times,” Camidge said.

Hartley thanked the Auxiliary for its support and added that the Hospital hopes to eventually equip each of its 17 Acute Inpatient Unit rooms with sleeper chairs.

“The Auxiliary is one of the most overlooked aspects of the Hospital,” Hartley said. “Their members do a tremendous amount of work for us.”

In March 2015 the Hospital purchased eight nightfall daybeds and mattresses for the maternity unit with a $6,000 Auxiliary donation.

The Carthage Area Hospital Auxiliary is comprised of men and women volunteers who support the Hospital and believe that it’s an integral part of their communities. Through their efforts, the Auxiliary helps to purchase much-needed Hospital equipment.

Carthage Area Hospital was established as a not-for-profit rural community hospital in 1965. It operates today as a fully accredited 25-bed Critical Access Hospital, serving approximately 83,000 residents in Jefferson, northern Lewis and southern St. Lawrence counties.


AIU_SleeperChairs_2_030917      AIU_SleeperChairs_1_030917

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Patricia ‘Patty’ farmer, CNA Retires after nearly 31 Years of Service at Carthage Area Hospital

(Pictured left to right: Rich Duvall, CEO; Patricia Farmer, CNA; Beth Barnes, RN, COO; Mary Kleinhans, RN, Skilled Nursing Unit Manager)

Hospital staff, leadership and well-wishers gathered Thursday, March 2, 2017, to congratulate Patricia “Patty” Farmer, CNA, on nearly 31 years of service to Carthage Area Hospital, its patients and the community during a retirement celebration.

Chief Executive Officer Rich Duvall addressed the crowd: “We sincerely appreciate the more than three decades of continuous service that Patty gave our patients, the hospital and her community,” Duvall said.

“On March 1, Patty capped a career with the hospital team that she started in 1986. Her time was marked by faithful service and dedication to others, especially patients and residents of the Skilled Nursing Unit,” Duvall said.

Carthage Area Hospital operates a 30-bed Skilled Nursing Unit that provides 24-hour resident care in a nursing home setting on its main campus at 1001 West Street.

Mrs. Farmer worked in the Skilled Nursing Unit from September 1986 until her retirement. A Natural Bridge resident, she was educated in Carthage Central Schools and completed Certified Nursing Assistant training at Carthage Area Hospital shortly after she was hired.

Mrs. Farmer said “being with the people and the residents” at the hospital is a highlight of her service that she will genuinely miss. “Each day was great here,” she said.

Mrs. Farmer is married to Patrick Farmer, with whom she has two daughters, a son and four grandchildren. Her immediate plans include traveling to North and South Carolina, spending quality time with family and continuing her hobbies of gardening and knitting.

Carthage Area Hospital wishes Mrs. Farmer the best in happiness and health in her retirement.


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Cheryl VanCour, LPN Retires After 41 Years of Service at Carthage Area Hospital

Cheryl VanCour, LPN was greeted by a room full of her peers on Thursday, February 9, 2017 with a surprise party to celebrate her 41 years of service at Carthage Area Hospital.

Director of Patient and Community Engagement, Natalie Burnham addressed the crowd. “Today we have the pleasure of honoring Cheryl VanCour as she begins a new phase of her life,” Burnham said. “Cheryl has been a dedicated and hardworking employee at Carthage Area Hospital for 41 years. Always willing to do what is needed to take care of her patients and her co-workers.”

School Based Health Center Program Director, Melanie Saber echoed the sentiment. “We appreciate all of her hard work, dedication and passion for helping the children at the schools. She will be missed dearly by her entire team.”

Mrs. VanCour has worked in the following Departments/Clinics at Carthage Area Hospital: Medical/Surgical/Pediatrics (MSP), Critical Care Unit (CCU), Emergency Room (ER), the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Clinic and Beaver River School Based Health Center (SBHC).

“The hospital is pleased to have had Cheryl as a member of the hospital’s team for all of these years. We’re thankful for all that she has done for us, for being such an incredible employee, leader and role model,” Chief Operating Officer Beth Barnes said.

Carthage Area Hospital wishes Cheryl the very best, in happiness and health in her retirement.


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In Memoriam of JoAnn Zando

Unfortunately it is with a heavy heart the Carthage Area Hospital Foundation has to say good-bye to a wonderful community member and true Philanthropist, JoAnn Lyn Zando.  Life can certainly present brilliant and joyful people in our circle of friends and co-workers, and we were certainly blessed by having JoAnn as a Carthage Area Hospital Employee enriching our lives.

JoAnn L. Zando and her family established roots in the North Country moving to Carthage at the age of six years old.  In 1965 she married the love of her life Gino Zando, and had two children Craig and Christopher.  She was an intelligent woman with poise and grace earning an Associates of Science Degree in Accounting and Administration from Powelson Business Institute, Syracuse NY.  JoAnn worked in our community at Champion International in Deferiet prior to helping establish the Carthage Area Hospital Foundation in 1995 until her unfortunate passing January 30, 2017.  She truly was the Foundation “Cornerstone”, involved with every aspect of Foundation operations from the start!  JoAnn worked tirelessly with a level of detail to ensure fundraising events, building Campaigns / improvements, and other administrative tasks were always taken care of to the benefit of our Hospital.  Anyone that knew of the Foundation and its mission immediately could associate JoAnn’s name and personality being integrated with every aspect of bettering the Hospital and the Carthage Community.  JoAnn was that person to put her heart and soul into everything she did for the Foundation.  Quite simply she was kind, approachable, always willing to help out, and just made life better for those around her.

JoAnn was a community volunteer and was serving on her seventh term as a Deferiet Board of Trustee.  She also served 15 years as a Board of Directors on the Miss New York State Scholarship Organization, and was an active member for over 20 years in the Carthage Area Hospital Auxiliary serving on multiple committees in the Hospital.

JoAnn continually talked of family and her love as a mother and grandmother to her three grandchildren Marco, Ava, and Lucas who all live in New Jersey.  Our Carthage Area Hospital Family will certainly miss JoAnn Lyn Zando and know it’s a great loss for her family, the Foundation, and our community.  We are going to honor her memory by creating one of our Foundation Healthcare Scholarships in her name, a great legacy to remember and carry forward!

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