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Upstate Hospital requesting more funding from state

Ellen Abbott

SUNY is asking the state for up to $185 million to stabilize its two public teaching hospitals. Most of the cash is needed for the Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. But Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse also needs millions.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher last week told lawmakers Upstate Hospital needs a one-time $35 million payment in order to stabilize its finances. Hospital CEO John McCabe says public teaching hospitals have traditionally relied on the state for help with labor costs that continue to increase.

"As a public hospital, the cost to run that hospital are higher than a private hospital, and the state historically has helped support some of those costs, and over time has supported less and less and less and less. And the real question to the state is how much does it want to support a public institution," said McCabe.

The governor's budget proposal includes no increases for the SUNY system this fiscal year. And if the $35 million doesn't come through, McCabe says there could be program cuts, and he won't rule out layoffs.

"Layoffs, as an idea, are in my toolbox. And I hope I never have to use it. To say that I will never use it is probably disingenuous," said McCabe. "So it's there. There's no immediate plans, but it might be one of the tools we have to consider in the future if we can't make ends meet, and provide the care that we need in central New York."

Upstate Hospital is one of the biggest employers in central New York.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.