Citizens group fights Newfane hospital cutbacks

NEWFANE, N.Y. (WIVB) - Advocates and concerned citizens are holding a meeting at Newfane Town Hall Saturday evening, as part of a continued fight to stop Eastern Niagara Hospital from cutting back services and laying off workers.

Eastern Niagara announced earlier this month it will cut the equivalent of 60 full-time jobs by mid-October, and move inpatient services to its Lockport location.

Outpatient services including dialysis, rehabilitation and lab work will still be available at the Newfane hospital location, and its emergency room will remain open, executives said. They said the restructuring is necessary because of financial issues – the combination of a declining number of patients, reduced reimbursements and Affordable Care Act mandates.

But the citizens meeting at 5:00 p.m. Saturday claim the hospital mismanaged its finances, and let patient care slip, citing recent surveys by Consumer Reports and Leapfrog that gave Eastern Niagara poor ratings.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199 has sent a letter to the State Health Department, asking it to conduct an independent needs assessment of the hospital and go over its finances.

The Town of Newfane has hired an attorney to look into allegations that the hospital sought improper tax exemptions for its nursing home.

SEIU and the town’s requests are among the topics to be discussed at Saturday’s meeting.

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