Irving, NY - Come January ambulances may no longer take patients to the E-R at Lakeshore Health Care Center with the shutdown decision announced Wednesday. That included the loss of 460 jobs at the facility.
That Lakeshore Emergency Department was recently renovated and enlarged. The Lake Erie Regional Health System website notes that it was launched with a $1.9 million dollar HEAL grant from the State Health Department. Even images from the renovation are shown on the website.
It's frustrating to the state senator who represents Chautauqua County. State Senator Cathy Young says she fought for that grant. Young says "I know taxpayers want emergency services. But this money could be squandered. A lot of questions are swirling about."
Young says she knew there were financial issues but she did not expect this move by hospital managers. She is seeking a meeting with them and the state health department which must approve any closing plan. Young says "I do have questions about finances that I'll be asking."
There is also concern that the loss of the mental health unit at Lakeshore will have a ripple effect. Those with behavior issues may have no place to go in the northern part of the county. The nearby Brooks Hospital does not have such a unit. So those with mental health problems could end up at the county jail. Chautauqua County Public Health Director Christine Schuyler says "Not only is that the wrong for people who need help. But it's also an extra cost for taxpayers and a burden on the jail."
A Lake Erie Regional Health System spokesman says they are seeking a buyer for the facilty which could keep some services like the ER running. But some officials say that is seen as a long shot.
2 On Your Side asked a spokesman for the State Health Department if the state could seek to recover that grant with the hospital closing decision. He said they needed to check with Albany for an answer.
State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes says she will also look into the question about the state grant and the hospital closing decision. She is a member of the Assembly Health Committee which helped authorize the grant program.