CWC reviewing loans after AG's complaints

By Jay Braman Jr.
A ripple effect is being felt in the region following word that the New York State Attorney General’s Office has targeted area hospitals, threatening them with prosecution unless they comply with new standards for disposing of pharmaceutical waste.
As a result, the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) is reviewing the details of a pair of $1 million loans granted to Margaretville Hospital and O’Connor Hospital in Delhi to see if those facilities have put themselves in breach of their respective agreements by admitting they have disposed of the waste improperly.
The CWC’s board of directors met last week following an announcement from Assemblyman Clifford Crouch who, in a letter to the state attorney general, said the actions of the attorney general’s office jeopardized secured loans that were extended to these hospitals by CWC in 2003. Crouch said one of the conditions of the loans directed that the health care agencies had to comply with regulations to protect the environment. But settlements reached between the attorney general and both facilities include an admission that the hospitals have both broken the law.
Now, the CWC board of directors has instructed the agencies attorney to review all the related documents and the loans themselves to see whether either hospital is in violation of the terms of the loans or if the CWC itself is in violation of the Memorandum of Agreement as a result.
Crouch claims this could lead to disaster.
“I am requesting that all of the consent orders and enforcement actions be rescinded and any fines or settlement be waived and/or reimbursed immediately,” Crouch wrote. “Implementation of these unnecessary stipulations coupled with the loss of such loans will not only create a fiscal crisis, but significantly increase the cost of health care at these facilities, and could result in a catastrophic health care crisis for those individuals who rely on them when these hospitals and nursing homes are forced to close their doors.”