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New Brooks still on track

OBSERVER Photo Brooks Memorial Hospital is hoping to have shovels in the ground at its new location in Fredonia in the spring.

Future plans for a new Brooks Memorial Hospital in the village of Fredonia remain on track though the present status of the institution remains in critical condition.

Both Chris Lanski, chair of the Brooks-TLC Hospital board of directors, and Mary LaRowe, chief executive officer, said in a meeting with the OBSERVER this week that while the process has taken longer than expected, there is a hope for a ground-breaking on the $70 million project to take place in the spring. The hospital, which would be a state-of-the-art facility, would be located at the former Cornell Cooperative Extension site and take up about 30 acres of land.

In the meantime, Lanski and LaRowe emphasized that efforts are being made to add an entrance to the facility from Route 60. While that is still pending, the board also is awaiting final approval from the state on the application process.

Last month, state Department of Health officials told the OBSERVER that New York is assisting the institution with finances and is committed to the new facility. “As demonstrated by its ongoing operating assistance to Brooks Memorial Hospital and significant capital award to construct a new hospital, the state Department of Health is committed to ensuring that communities in the region have access to essential health care services,” Jeffrey Hammond, state Health Department spokesman, said in an e-mail to the OBSERVER in October.

While the Brooks-TLC group is receiving guidance from Kaleida Health in Buffalo, it is not yet an affiliate of the health-care organization. It is, however, utilizing a management agreement with Kaleida that allows for LaRowe’s leadership of the two institutions.

In recent years, the hospital has run monthly deficits. In an effort for efficiency, Brooks-TLC is working with Olean and sharing a number of leadership positions, computer software and making bulk supply purchases.

From 2012 to 2016, Brooks reported deficits totaling more than a combined $12 million. The hospital also is attempting to have a plan for its current facility, located at Sixth Street and Central Avenue, as it has put together a re-use facility committee.

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