HANOVER - Residents wanted to know if there was any update concerning the matters at Lake Shore Hospital Monday evening. The Hanover Town Board held its regular meeting and workshop meeting where residents inquired about the status of Lake Shore Hospital potentially closing in January.
Residents had concerns specifically about what would happen concerning the ambulance service run by volunteers. Supervisor Todd Johnson said the current amount of time for an ambulance call is about an hour with patients being transported to Lake Shore. If the patient needed to be transported to another hospital, the amount spent on one call will increase, Johnson said.
"If they have to go to another facility, you have extra time. ... Obviously that facility would have more patients than normal and they may triage other patients and take them on a priority status. You can't leave your patient on a gurney, walk away and go back home. You would have to stay with them until they triage them and were able to assume the care of that patient," Johnson said. "Right now, the anticipation would be an hour 45 minutes to two hours per call without having to go to Lake Shore (hospital)."
OBSERVER Photo by Samantha McDonnell
The Hanover Town Board heard resident concerns during its workshop meeting about what would happen to the volunteer ambulance service if Lake Shore Hospital were to close. Pictured, from left, are: Councilman Kevin O’Connell, Supervisor Todd Johnson, Councilman Frederick Seegert and Councilman Wayne Ashley.
Johnson said with longer call times, volunteers may not be able to leave their jobs to be gone longer than an hour. Johnson said many town employers are great at letting employees leave for a call during the day, but is not sure how many will be as flexible if call times were to almost double. He said there is not a high demand of residents wanting to become volunteers either.
"There's really not a lot of people knocking down the doors who want to become volunteers," Johnson said.
If a patient had to be transferred to Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk or a Buffalo-area hospital, the time it takes a patient to be seen at the emergency room and the costs to the ambulance service would most likely increase. Highway Superintendent Steve D'Angelo, who is a member of the town's fire department, talked about how time can be crucial to a patient.
"We have what they call the golden hour. When you take a patient who is critical within that hour you can either save them or you'll lose them. Now if Lake Shore closes, you add this burden to the patient. Even a trip to Brooks (Memorial Hospital) during the winter - we do get some lake snow - you're going to start adding on to this golden hour. We could probably lose a lot of patients with all this," D'Angelo said.
There was also other concerns about patients being flown to another hospital where a helicopter could land. Brooks hospital does not have a helicopter landing pad like Lake Shore hospital does. D'Angelo said there is a landing pad at the Hanover Center fire hall. Other areas that have been used include the Forestville High School, the former Damon Motors in Silver Creek and the parking lot in Sunset Bay, among others. While there are areas to land a helicopter in Dunkirk, patients have to be transported from the hospital to the landing pad. D'Angelo said while the ambulance service sometimes knows ahead of time if a helicopter is needed, other services bring patients to Lake Shore without warning.
"On our end through our fire department ... if we get to a point where the patient has taken a big fall or a head injury, we'll call and we'll get the crew started toward the helicopter. When Silver Creek or Forestville comes and gets an EMT, they'll say 'Yeah. That's a good idea. Let's fly them out.' So we get a jump on that. Down here, the hospital has a lot ambulances bringing people in and they have to fly them out. This whole thing is going to absolutely devastate this area (if the hospital closes). It's already done a lot of damage. You can't blame these fire departments for somebody to take two to three hours out of their day if they possibly have to go to Brooks or Buffalo. I think in the end that's going to hurt the volunteer service tremendously," D'Angelo said.
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