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‘Time is running out’: Rally aims to save Brooks-TLC

OBSERVER Photo Brooks-TLC Hospital System is hoping to use $74 million to build a new facility in Fredonia.

Former state Sen. Catharine Young fears for the future of the Brooks-TLC Hospital System if a new facility does not get built soon.

Young, who helped secure more than $74 million in state aid for the north county health-care provider in 2016 and 2017, writes in a commentary in this morning’s OBSERVER that state Gov. Kathy Hochul must come to the region’s rescue and release the money so building at the Fredonia site can begin. “Time is running out,” she writes on Page A4. “The current structure is aged and seriously outdated with enormous maintenance costs. The state Department of Health has determined that it is not good policy to invest hard-earned taxpayer dollars into this property, and that is why the state grant is predicated on building a new hospital.”

Brooks-TLC administrators and its board of directors agree — and are hoping community members will respond. From 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Clarion, the hospital will be holding a Support Rural Health Care rally that is open to the public to discuss the importance of having health care in the north county for years to come.

Young will be one of the speakers at the event. “This truly is a life and death situation, not only for the hospital, but in turn for all of those in the community and region who no longer will have local access to emergency health care if the hospital closes,” Young writes.

Mary LaRowe, president and chief executive officer at Brooks-TLC, indicated in a meeting Tuesday that there is an urgency to begin building the new structure at the former Cornell Cooperative Extension site at East Main Street in Fredonia. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic and resignation of former state Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the issue of a new facility has not been on the front burner in the state capital for awhile.

Adding to the worries for both Brooks and Young is a deadline that is nearing for the property. On June 22, Young says, “the option to buy the proposed site in Fredonia will expire for good.

Without the governor’s commitment to release the funds, the property cannot be purchased.

“There is no Plan B. The hospital will continue to hemorrhage money without upgrades. It’s then just a matter of time until the hospital closes its doors with no hope for the future.”

LaRowe echoed those concens Tuesday morning reflecting on a decade of deficits that total more than $45 million. “How long can you maintain facility services in this building? … As a hospital, we’re struggling financially and to have all the maintenance costs associated with this … it’s just one thing after another.”

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