Brooks down to two locations, receives $17 million

The Brooks Memorial Hospital Board of Directors is in the final stages of choosing a new location for the Dunkirk-based hospital and recently received more good news for the project.

In a press release sent to the OBSERVER Wednesday, Kaleida Health, Brooks’ affiliate, reported the board and its consultants have narrowed the site search from 24 to two using a detailed analysis and a specific set of criteria.

Last year, Brooks Memorial Hospital, TLC Health Network and Kaleida Health announced their intentions to affiliate and received a $57 million grant through New York State’s Essential Healthcare Provider Support Program, most of which would be used for Brooks’ new location.

On Tuesday, the hospitals got more good news with another grant secured for $17 million from the New York state Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program. The grant will help fund and facilitate Brooks’ information technology and physical plant transformation.

The $17 million comes from a program announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that aids eight projects in Western New York with $44.6 million as part of the $491 million overall program to improve patient care through the development of high-quality medical facilities and programs serving the inpatient, primary care, mental health, substance use disorder and long-term care needs of communities throughout New York state.“Now, more than ever, we need to protect health care in New York and ensure the system in place is meeting the needs of current and future generations of New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “While others seek to decimate our hospitals and reduce access to quality health care, we are investing to help ensure a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

“We are thrilled that the state recognizes how important access to health care services is for Northern Chautauqua County residents,” said Chris Lanski, the president of the Brooks Hospital Board of Directors. “This grant award once again demonstrates the state’s commitment to the health and well-being of our community and solidifies the plan to provide high quality health care on a local level.”

Lanski added, with this final piece of the funding now in place, the board will vote in the coming weeks to finalize its relocation plan for its new hospital. Due to the funding complexity, as well as the large number of potential sites across Chautauqua County, the decision on a new location has taken longer than expected.

TLC’s Lake Shore Healthcare Center in Irving will also benefit from this grant, but it still in the process of navigating out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy before it can formally affiliate with Kaleida. Kaleida Health President and CEO Jody Lomeo said $4 million of the grant will be used to help Brooks and TLC transform its information technology platform, aligning it with Upper Allegheny and Kaleida Health, which have more mature information systems. The remaining $13 million will be used to round out funding the new hospital project for Brooks.

Kaleida Health has been working with five Southern Tier hospitals over the past year to implement their respective affiliation agreements. A new “twin tier” network is now forming to take advantage of the capabilities and market presence of Upper Allegheny Health System (Olean and Bradford, Pa.), Brooks Memorial, TLC Health Network and Cuba Memorial Hospitals.

The vision of the three parties is to form an integrated delivery system with the Dunkirk campus taking the lead in delivering traditional, inpatient hospital services at a new hospital and the Irving campus becoming more of an ambulatory location focusing on outpatient services, inpatient and outpatient behavioral health. The future vision of TLC includes a free-standing emergency department, focusing on outpatient services; continuation of inpatient behavioral health at TLC; and growing inpatient mental health and primary care.

“This news is a life changing and enormous quality of life victory for the people in our region,” State Senator Catharine Young said. “It has been a long and arduous journey since that terrible day when Lake Shore Hospital’s doors were abruptly closed in October of 2013. Since that time, we have worked tirelessly and fought very hard to keep the doors open and save both Lake Shore and Brooks Memorial hospitals. A major development was partnering with Kaleida Health, which brings excellent care to the Southern Tier. The new integrated hospital system will ensure state of the art, cutting edge health care by building a brand new hospital in northern Chautauqua County and upgrading the Lake Shore site. Access to quality health care is a matter of life and death, and quality of life in rural areas, and this state funding will guarantee that people will receive the excellent care they need and deserve. I extend my deepest gratitude to the boards of directors, Kaleida Health, Governor Cuomo and the State Health Department for working closely with me to make this victory happen.”

The opportunity to partner with Kaleida Health and its programs at places like the Gates Vascular Institute, Buffalo General Medical Center and Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo is to coordinate care so patients in the region will have access to appropriate care locally and be seamlessly transitioned to tertiary network care platforms when needed. The “twin tier” hospitals will also be have greater coordination of care and enhanced partnerships with Erie County Medical Center’s (a partner of Kaleida Health) centers of excellence in behavioral health and transplantation, along with adult level one trauma care.