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Area officials react to closing

DOOMSDAY IN?IRVING

OBSERVER Staff Report

Chautauqua County and state officials are weighing in on the abrupt closing of the Lakeshore-TLC Hospital in Irving. Most are expressing “shock” and disappointment.

“While I was extremely disappointed to hear this news, the county will be committed to working with the Brooks-TLC Hospital System to develop a sustainable and effective health care delivery system in the north county as well as repurposing the TLC/Lakeshore facility,” said Acting County Executive Stephen Abdella. “The county will also support all re-employment efforts for those displaced by this closure.”

State Sen. George Borrello offered this statement: “In the coming days, I will be in talks with the hospital leadership and other stakeholders to explore all options. While I am sympathetic to the underlying financial realities that led to this difficult decision, people need to come first. We need to do everything we can to help ease this transition for our community and hopefully find viable alternatives to ensure our residents and visitors have local access to those needed services.”

Todd Johnson, Hanover town supervisor, called the closing “a devastating blow to our community and to the 201-plus employees who work there to get this just before the holidays.

“We’ve been working for the last seven years to preserve the Lakeshore facility complex that it would still be here.

“At this point in time we’re working to see what we can do to keep this facility for our emergency responders in our community and other communities, including Gowanda Ambulance, the Seneca Nation, Evans-Angola and Farmham who all utilize that facility for healthcare.

“This is a devastating blow to our community and first responders.”

According to Johnson, the average call for emergency responders is one hour. He believes that will increase to two to two and a half hours, now that emergency responders will need to take people to either Brooks Hospital or Mercy Hospital in Buffalo.

Johnson also noted many Hanover and Silver Creek employees are first responders and that if they have to take people out of town for emergency services, it will affect their work in the community. “We do appreciate what our first responders do and all of our employees who are first responders and what they do in life-threatening situations,” he said.

Patricia Brinkman, the county’s Director of Community Mental Hygiene Services, said, “The county Department of Mental Hygiene will be collaborating with New York state’s Office for Mental Hygiene, the New York state Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), and the Department of Health to assure access to psychiatric and addiction inpatient services are available to residents of the north county. DMH will be convening a meeting next week of providers, law enforcement, and community based agencies to discuss how referrals for addiction and psychiatric inpatient services can best be managed in this new environment. DMH has compiled and will be releasing a list of other facilities available to our residents.”

Christine Schuyler, the county’s public health director and commissioner of Social Services, said, “The county expects Brooks-TLC leadership will ensure continuity of care for those served by the Irving campus, and will offer its full support to those efforts. We are fortunate to have a collaborative community of health care providers in Chautauqua County who will come together to support the needs of our north county residents.”

John Griffith, the county’s Director of Emergency Services, said, “While the news of the closing of Lake Shore is a shock to the EMS community, I have spoken to the fire chiefs in Silver Creek, Forestville, Hanover Center, Sunset Bay and Irving and they have all assured me that they will continue to provide EMS services. All have said that they will treat and transfer to the next facility as needed. The Office of Emergency Services has offered to assist with planning as requested. The County Emergency Medical Services ALS Intercept unit stationed in Sheridan is prepared to work with the volunteers to insure patient care as needed.”

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