In a letter, UPMC Hamot President V. James Fiorenzo responded Thursday to state Senator Catharine Young's criticisms of the organization, refuting claims that it is calling the shots on Lake Shore Hospital.
Fiorenzo stated, "UPMC is not 'trying to close Lake Shore Hospital' and it is not in any way a decision-maker in relation to LERHSNY's hospitals and facilities. Thus, the reference to 'recent decisions by UPMC' is completely untrue. Without question, the financial crisis at TLC preceded UPMC. As of May 2013, TLC had already lost $3 million in calendar year 2013, and Brooks also had lost $1 million. LERHSNY and TLC are facing some difficult realities in health care economics in their region, but UPMC did not create the economic situation and it does not have a magic solution. UPMC has only tried to assist LERHSNY when asked for resources, and it is very disconcerting that some are trying to make UPMC a scapegoat."
See the full content of the letter below:
V. James Fiorenzo
Dear Senator Young:
I am writing this letter to correct for the record some extremely inaccurate and objectionable statements that you made in your letters published in the OBSERVER on Jan. 4 and Jan. 7.
First, you stated, "When UPMC broke their promise of building a new hospital to replace flood-ravaged Tri-County in Gowanda, they said the region still would have access to emergency room and hospital care at Lake Shore."
This issue simply does not involve UPMC at all. If promises were ever made to rebuild Tri-County Hospital, it was not UPMC that made them. The flooding of that hospital and any plans to rebuild or not rebuild it occurred many months before LERHSNY sought UPMC Hamot's current assistance, which included leasing the services of Gary Rhodes as LERHSNY's interim chief executive officer from UPMC Hamot.
Specifically, Mr. Rhodes did not even begin his role as interim CEO until May 2013, following the termination by the LERHSNY Board of Directors of its then current CEO in March 2013. After that termination, the LERHSNY Board of Directors, the ultimate decision-making body for the system, requested that UPMC Hamot lease employees to LERHSNY that are under the direction and control of the LERHSNY Board. This arrangement included the loan of Mr. Rhodes, who is also the president of Kane Community Hospital. The leasing of Mr. Rhodes took place nearly one year after the July 2012 decision of the LERHSNY Board not to rebuild a replacement inpatient hospital, but rather to develop an ambulatory site in Perrysburg.
In May 2013, when the LERHSNY Board decided to repurpose the HEAL project funds for that project, Mr. Rhodes had no involvement in that decision-making process by the LERHSNY Board, as he was brand new to LERHSNY. So, when Mr. Rhodes later on July 18, 2013 communicated that Tri-County would not be built, he was merely passing along a decision that the LERHSNY Board had already made without any advice or recommendation by UPMC Hamot or UPMC whatsoever.
It is also important to note that seven years ago, the Berger Commission in 2006, as part of its state-wide recommendations, recommended closure of Tri-County Hospital. The rationale for that recommendation was contained in the Berger Commission report, and, as an uninvolved outside observer, it seems to me that the action of the LERHSNY Board is consistent with that recommendation.
Next, with regard to Lake Shore Hospital, you stated "UPMC is trying to close Lake Shore Hospital" and "Recent decisions by UPMC are deeply disappointing and extremely alarming." Clearly, there are some who would like to portray UPMC as the party responsible for the pending potential closure of Lake Shore Hospital. That portrayal is unfair, inaccurate, and irresponsible. It needs to be stated again that the LERHSNY Board of Directors is the decision-making body for its hospitals. UPMC has no representatives with any vote on the LERHSNY Board. UPMC is not the member or parent company of LERHSNY. LERHSNY is totally independent of UPMC and UPMC Hamot.
The LERHSNY Board is comprised entirely of local community members that are doing their very best to act in the best interest of their community and are faced with making some very difficult decisions about LERHSNY's future in the extremely complex and ever-changing health care landscape. As for Mr. Rhodes, he is under the direction and control of the LERHSNY Board. His role as interim CEO is to gather data and information for the LERHSNY Board's consideration and to communicate and carry out the Board's decisions. The LERHSNY Board is entirely free to terminate Mr. Rhodes' services at any time.
In sum, UPMC is not "trying to close Lake Shore Hospital" and it is not in any way a decision-maker in relation to LERHSNY's hospitals and facilities. Thus, the reference to "recent decisions by UPMC" is completely untrue. Without question, the financial crisis at TLC preceded UPMC. As of May 2013, TLC had already lost $3 million in calendar year 2013, and Brooks also had lost $1 million. LERHSNY and TLC are facing some difficult realities in health care economics in their region, but UPMC did not create the economic situation and it does not have a magic solution. UPMC has only tried to assist LERHSNY when asked for resources, and it is very disconcerting that some are trying to make UPMC a scapegoat.
It is my sincere hope that your planned rally will help the community achieve its desired goals for TLC.
I am sharing a copy of this correspondence with Assemblyman Andy Goodell, Assemblyman Joe Giglio, OBSERVER Publisher John D'Agostino, and Ann Anderson, Cesar A. Cabrera, Marie Carruba, Bill Daly, Angel Garcia, Andy Johnson, Jarrod Johnson, Dona E. Cook-Hines, Christine Luly, Peter Morgante, Dave Pihl, William Prieto, Ron Sellers, Nichole Segrue, Albert Simmons, Dan Smith, Matt Spillane, Doug Stock, Todd Tranum, Gretchen Varney and Dave Wilkinson.
V. James Fiorenzo, President, UPMC Hamot