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State helped doom Lakeshore Hospital

Commentary

I attended the first public organizational meeting of Lakeshore Hospital at the Silver Creek Central School auditorium where more than 150 people gathered to hear about the possibility of having a new hospital.

Fran Striker, writer of the Lone Ranger, was the principal speaker for the evening. He lived at that time on the Genesee Road out of Arcade. He left all the people fired up.

A pledge program was started the next week and fully supported.

I went on the board of Lakeshore Hospital in January of 1983. During my 11 years on the board I saw it grow from 40 surgical beds plus 204 nursing home beds, 175 home health care, 65 child care, 25 adult day care, 20 psychology and more. Our goal was to help the sick and the frail, which we did.

Some years, we had a 108 percent occupancy rate at the hospital, which meant there were beds in the hall. We had people on a waiting list to get into the nursing home. All this with local board members. Charles Hughes, L. Leland Parker, James DeJohn, Dr. Ed Barnes and more than I can remember. All of these were local people and not people from outside our area who claim to be experts.

Then New York came along and said there were too many hospital beds in the state. They then started to put the squeeze on all the small hospitals. They wanted all the beds filled with no surplus.

The state also started to reduce the reimbursements, not only to hospitals but doctors as well. This reduction has continued each year and will continue. Some of the doctors in the area said, “Forget this,” and moved out of state.

This is one of the reasons we have a shortage of doctors today. Now if we have a national disaster such as floods, hurricanes, train wrecks and even not to think about atomic bombs from some trigger-happy foreign nation … it could happen. Not enough beds or doctors for this area.

This is the way the politicians work. They like to put the needed expenses off to the next guy and then they can say they didn’t have to raise taxes with the hope of getting re-elected.

The New York state Department of Health should go back to the fair reimbursement program to be ready for disaster if and when it does come.

Bob Sutehall is an Angola resident.

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