HUDSON — Columbia Memorial Health will receive nearly $17.4 million in funding as part of a statewide effort to support the New York health care system.
Funding is being provided by the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced late Wednesday.
In all, 25 awards were handed out totaling $187 million to improve patient care through improved facilities and programs, Cuomo said.
Awards are aimed at improving services in primary care, mental health, inpatient, substance abuse disorders and long-term care. Awards can also be issued to pay down existing debt.
“While the federal administration continues its years-long campaign to curb critical health care protections, we are doubling down on our commitment to ensuring New Yorkers have access to the high-quality and affordable care they need,” Cuomo said.
Columbia Memorial Health’s share of the funding will be used to retire debt, according to the governor’s office.
“This will cover debt that the hospital has incurred over the last several years,” hospital spokesman Bill Van Slyke said. “It is specially for the use of debt relief.”
The $17.4 million grant will essentially pay off all of the hospital’s long-term debt for capital improvement projects that have been made over the years, Columbia Memorial Health President and CEO Jay P. Cahalan told hospital staff in a statement.
“CMH has about $17 million in long-term debt,” Cahalan said. “This debt is sort of like a house mortgage. Much of it is for the buildings we owe money on, like the Kellner Wing and purchase of the Greene Medical Arts building, just to name two examples. ‘Debt retirement’ in this instance means the state of New York will pay off our debt, literally, ‘retire’ the debt.”
The hospital is receiving the third-highest amount of all grant recipients in this round of funding. Only St. John’s Riverside Hospital in the Mid-Hudson region and Town of Massena/Massena Memorial Hospital in the North Country were awarded more, at $29,084,615 and $20,000,000, respectively.
Columbia Memorial Health is the only hospital in the Capital Region to receive funding under the program.
“We applied for the grant. This is the third round of funding under this program and this is the first time we received a grant under the program,” Van Slyke said.
Several grant recipients will also use the money allotted to them for debt relief; others are using it for capital improvements like building a new health care facility at St. Mary’s Center Inc. in New York City and purchasing telemetry monitoring equipment and upgrading the pharmacy at the Alice Hyde Medical Center in the North Country.
“These investments will continue to build a modern, sustainable and fully integrated health care infrastructure centered on improving the well-being of all New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.
The funding was awarded through an amendment to the 2019-20 state budget authorizing the Department of Health to allocate up to $300 million of the $525 million in Health Care Facility Transformation Program funds that was originally set aside in the previous year’s budget but had not been awarded. The last round of funding was announced in February of this year.
The state remains “committed to making sure our health care partners have the resources necessary to further integrate and modernize the delivery of health care services to patients throughout the state,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said.