Eastern Niagara Hospital announces 60 layoffs

NEWFANE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Eastern Niagara Hospital employees in Newfane learned Wednesday morning that half of them will out of a job.

The restructuring plan at the William Street site will consolidate inpatient care and surgical services at the hospital’s Lockport site on East Avenue. The Newfane site will maintain its 24-hour emergency department, in addition to some outpatient services.

There are approximately 560 full-time employees at Eastern Niagara Hospital, with 123 at the Newfane site. Janice Dierolf is one of 60 employees at the Newfane site that will soon be searching for a new job.

She told News 4, “In two to three months, I’ll be losing my job and I’ve been there for going on three years.”

The communities surrounding the hospital knew changes were coming and they’ve been fighting against them.

“I didn’t think it was going to be this soon,” said Dierolf.

Many residents told News 4 this is all the result of mismanagement. However, CEO Clair Haar said there were unavoidable due to financial issues. She says it’s the result of a decrease in patients, reduced reimbursements and the Affordable Care Act.

Haar said, “Healthcare is undergoing a very significant change. Hospitalizations are decreasing and work is shifting to outpatient care, so we are reacting to the shifts that are occurring.”

Outpatient services like dialysis, lab work and rehabilitation will remain. The emergency room will also stay open.

Phil Tenneson, the owner of the Lake Ontario Motel in Newfane, has been supporting the fight to keep the hospital open.

He said, “At least they’re keeping the emergency room open and some things like that but still the inpatient thing is a really important part for this area.”

In March, community members had an emergency meeting on how to save the hospital. It has been in Newfane for more than 50 years, and became Eastern Niagara Hospital about five years ago.

Haar said, “We have the capacity at the Lockport site to absorb the work.”

However, it won’t absorb nearly half of the employees who are now out of work.

Tenneson said, “I was there this spring and I got what I thought was really good care and I’m disappointed that to see those people lose their jobs; it just doesn’t seem right.”

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