Brooks outlines ‘important’ project

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward. Mary LaRowe, Brooks-TLC Hospital System president and chief executive officer, sits with Chris Lanski, Brooks-TLC Hospital System chair, at the incubator on Friday.

Community leaders heard from Brooks-TLC Hospital System representatives regarding plans to move the health-care facility from Dunkirk to Fredonia. The meetings began in the morning and lasted through Friday afternoon.

Mary LaRowe, Brooks-TLC Hospital System president and chief executive officer and Chris Lanski, chair, Brooks-TLC Hospital System board of directors along with representatives of Kaleida Health, discussed concerns, questions and the step-by-step process.

“The building project that we have is extremely important,” LaRowe said. “It is tied to the grant and the grant does have a timeline and it’s tied to the building of a new facility, not renovation of the existing.”

According to LaRowe of the grant funding, $67 million is going toward the building of the new hospital, $3 million for some upgrades at TLC and the rest is part of their IT integration system.

When asked about possibly building a new hospital on the north parking lot and then demolishing the current building LaRowe outlined why that wasn’t a possible solution.

“We have a building structure that is old and has hazardous materials,” LaRowe continued. “We have requirements for construction that we can’t do around a patient unit. So how to do that would be very challenging to keep services where they are right now, it would be cost prohibitive, but the cost of abatement is tremendous. The current site is 4.74 acres, so it’s a small footprint and doesn’t really give you the capability of doing a construction on the parking lot, and where are the employees going to park. We have very limited dollars to use.”

Lanski talked about the need for a larger site. “When you look at all of those requirements for a site for the hospital and then you start adding in the parking spaces, the adjacent areas that are necessary, the disposing of the water into retention ponds that are of a certain size, creating access for deliveries around the back, employee entrances, you recognize that 25 acre site fills up quickly,” he said.

“There was consideration given to other locations in the city as well,” LaRowe added. “There were three of them. The challenges go back to the criteria that we use, in addition to that as a health care institution that has some very sensitive equipment we really can’t be near a railroad track, high tension wires were a problem because we’re going to have a heliport. All of those had to be taken into consideration as well. Every effort was made to find a site within the city.”

LaRowe and Lanski also added that they’ve been in discussions with CARTS about transportation and DOT and Fredonia Central School in regard to access at the new site, which will be located off Main Street at the former Cornell Cooperative Extension location.