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E.J. Noble Hospital leadership remains quiet about possible changes

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GOUVERNEUR — The state Health Department and E.J. Noble Hospital are staying mum about recent meetings that could result in a shake-up of the hospital board.

A Health Department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment and Timothy J. Monroe, the hospital board’s chairman, declined to answer questions. Mayor Ronald P. McDougall also declined to comment.

The hospital has struggled to recover from a Sept. 28 shutdown of its laboratory by the Health Department because of deficiencies. The Health Department later allowed a partial reopening of the lab, but the blood bank remains closed and the hospital cannot provide many services, including most surgeries and a maternity ward.

The hospital’s finances — already fragile — have also suffered because of the dip in patients. Many of the approximately 70 employees laid off at the end of September have not been called back to work.

Former Administrator Charles P. Conole resigned in December. The laboratory is being supervised by Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, and a management agreement with Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam, is in the works.

The agreement with Canton-Potsdam must still be approved by the National Automatic Sprinkler Pension Fund, the guarantor of $11 million in bonds that financed the hospital’s recent addition.

Lee O. Smith, investment adviser with Hartland Asset Management, the agent for the pension fund, said it could be another few weeks before a decision is made.

“We’re still reviewing,” Mr. Smith said. “It’s a complex situation, lots of moving parts.”

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