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Hospital leadership ‘cannot be trusted’

Last week, the state Office of Mental Hygiene stood with Lakeshore Hospital in agreement that our patients must have access to mental health and chemical dependency programs at an inpatient level.

Kaleida chief financial officer Richard Braun stated at that meeting that our closure is necessary as they “anticipate” the loss of funds that currently allow our budget to break even. He suggested that others would do the same in that position as would any business. Rightfully, a member of the advisory panel corrected Braun by pointing out that most people would “fight like hell and find a way” rather than simply providing a closure plan from a board that has made little effort to find a solution.

As the OBSERVER pointed out in Thursday’s paper, the administration of Brooks-TLC was admonished for their lack of consideration of alternative avenues that would save the services needed without ignoring the fiscal needs of the hospital. There was little to no consideration for our patients, instead the focus was on their only goal: the closure of Lakeshore Hospital. As administration has continued to remove supplies from the building even while we remain open, used manipulation and fear to cut staffing, and pushed the narrative that our patients do not need this hospital, they have demonstrated that they are not concerned with the threat to this community.

Our administration has proven that they cannot be trusted. In the past few weeks, we have had to fact-check the information they have given to us, find our own staffing, and advocate for the rights of our patients alone. As we have had to step up and do their jobs for them, it is time for a change.

No longer can we trust them with the privilege of running our community’s hospital. Since our board and administrators are unwilling to commit to fighting like hell for Lakeshore, we have stepped up to the plate along with many others including Lou Pelletter, Senator George Borrello, the Service Employees International Union 1199 and our community members. We recognize the need for this community to have a medical and psychiatric facility in their area. More than anything, we recognize that the hostility and manipulation used by the Brooks-TLC administration and board are clear indications that they cannot be trusted to maintain control at TLC without attempting to force closure at every turn. While we had hoped to partner with our peers at Brooks to provide a stronger healthcare system, our administration has ensured that is impossible.

Our administration does not understand the needs of the community. When asked about the disproportionate disadvantage this closure would put our patients with mental health and chemical dependency needs at, Brooks-TLC president and chief executive officer Mary LaRowe answered, “We have two outpatient clinics,” as if this solves the needs of our patients who require inpatient services. Clearly, this administration does not understand that these services are essential to the well-being of our patients.

This administration is so set on closure that they have manufactured a staffing crisis through fear-mongering, lies, and even telling staff not to bother coming in because there wouldn’t be a hospital to work at on their next shift.

The lengths they are willing to go to in order to close us would be much better served fighting for our survival. If half the effort that has been put into ensuring our demise had been put towards finding ways to continue and improve, our community would have the hospital it deserves. Until then, we’ll be here fighting like hell.

Aubrey Cunningham is a Fredonia resident.

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