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Rural Hospitals Affected by State Commission Recommendations

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Five rural hospitals south of Buffalo face major changes under the state commission report on hospital closings and consolidations released last week.

The two hospital closings in the Buffalo area and the recommended merger of ECMC and Kaleida have largely overshadowed the commission's plans for other smaller hospitals in Western New York. The State Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century is recommending just two full-service acute care hospitals for Southern Erie and Northern Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties. They are Bertrand Chaffee in Springville and Brooks Memorial in Dunkirk.

Louis Frascella says the recommendations are devastating. He's the administrator of the TLC Network, which is made up of the Lake Shore Health Care Center in Irving and Tri-County Hospital in Gowanda. Both hospitals would see their acute care beds decertified. They would be able to offer outpatient services. Tri-County would continue its drug treatment services while Lake Shore could opt for the psychiatric care it now offers. Frascella said both TLC and Bertrand Chaffee had offered a plan that would have sustained them all.

Dr. Mary Wolf, who practices family medicine, says many residents of the tri-county region are not aware of what's happening. But TLC's Louis Frascella says residents are starting to mobilize to protest the commission's recommendations.

He would also not rule out a lawsuit as a last resort.

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