$1M to keep Lake Shore Hospital open

SILVER CREEK, NY (WIVB) – Three days before Lake Shore Hospital was set to run out of money, State Senator Cathy Young says she’s secured $1 million to keep the hospital open.

Young made the announcement at a rally for Lake Shore, which her office organized, on Saturday afternoon at Silver Creek High School.

The crowd of roughly 1,000 people included citizens, patients, doctors and other hospital staff, politicians and first responders. All say keeping the facility open is critical to the health of both people who live in the surrounding area, and of the local economy.

The Irving facility filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December. Without the last-minute infusion of cash, the hospital would have completely run out of money this coming Tuesday.

“I’ve been working feverishly with the State Health Department, and I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve secured $1 million in emergency state funding,” Sen. Young told News 4. “That’ll keep the hospital doors open, that’ll keep the lights on, so that they can continue to provide critical services until we can set a buyer and an operator for the hospital.”

Developer Tony Borrello is heading up a group of investors who have offered to buy Lake Shore for $15 million.

Borrello told News 4 Saturday, he is waiting for a decision from the bankruptcy judge on what Lake Shore is worth, and access to the hospital’s books.

Borrello said he was “extremely encouraged” by the turnout at the rally on Saturday. He added that negotiations “look positive,” and said he’s fairly confident his purchase can be approved in the time the emergency funding from the state has bought.

Sen. Young estimated that $1 million will be enough to keep Lake Shore operating for about a month. It’s an encouraging step, but not enough for some.

“That’s exactly like what they’re doing in the White House, kicking the can down the road,” said Joann Balon, of Forestville. “We need more.”

And there may, in fact, be more. Congressman Tom Reed says he and his colleagues on Capitol Hill are still working to get some federal money to reimburse Lake Shore for damage caused by severe flooding over four years ago. If it comes through, that could buy Lake Shore even more time.

“Right now we’re closing out a FEMA application, because of the flooding we had in 2009 that impacts the Lake Shore facility,” Rep. Reed explained. “I talked to the regional administrator yesterday, down in D.C., and he assures me we’re… very close to getting a final determination on that. Hopefully we’ll have real good news in the next week or so.”

Some 460 people stand to lose their jobs, if Lake Shore is shuttered. Local leaders say that be a devastating blow to the economies of the Irving and Silver Creek communities.

The nearest medical centers are Buffalo’s hospitals, Brooks Memorial in Dunkirk, and UPMC Hamot in Erie, PA. The time it takes to drive to those facilities is simply too long, Lake Shore’s supporters have said, in emergencies where seconds or minutes are critical.

As a retired State Trooper, Balon’s husband John said he can attest to the importance of Lake Shore.

“I was a road Trooper for 33 years. And I picked up a lot of people off the roads on accidents, and it was nice to have the hospital so close to take care of these people. And it’s well-needed,” he said.

“I’ve met so many people coming in today who have received services at Lake Shore. One lady turned to me and said, ‘They literally saved my life a few years ago.’ Those are the real-life stories, and that’s the real-life impact if the doors close for good,” said Sen. Young.

“This truly is an issue that deals with life and death. We need to have access to quality health care right here, in our community.”

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