Layoffs canceled, Lake Shore Hospital staying open

IRVING, N.Y. (WIVB) – Lake Shore Health Care Center and its employees, who were in danger of losing their jobs when the hospital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, have been saved.

TLC Health Network, which operates Lake Shore, told employees on Tuesday that the layoff notices they previously received are being rescinded.

TLC’s Division Director of Business Development, Scott Butler, said Wednesday that three factors made that possible. The first is a $6.6 million grant Lake Shore is receiving through IAAF, a State Department of Health (DOH) program designed to provide assistance to hospitals that are struggling financially. The second is permission from the DOH for TLC Health Network to keep running Lake Shore. The third is the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s recent approval of Lake Shore’s ongoing restructuring plans.

“At a recent Bankruptcy Court hearing, permission was also granted to TLC Health Network to present its own plan for reorganization sometime this fall as a means of exiting Chapter 11 and in lieu of pursuing a sale of Lake Shore Health Care. In the meantime, TLC and all of its facilities remain open with the assistance of a $6.6 million IAAF grant and some operational improvements that have already been introduced. As TLC’s Board and administrative team work together with various community stakeholders to formulate a reorganization plan, all are excited about the positive trajectory the organization seems to be on and our potential for continuing to deliver high-quality health care in this community for many years to come,” read a statement Butler provided to News 4.

This also means that Lake Shore is no longer officially on the market for sale.

“That is a great, phenomenal win for not only the workers, but for the community in general, because this community depends on this hospital,” said Cath Kestler.

Kestler worked at Lake Shore for many years prior to her retirement. She’s now the Chautauqua County director for OFA New York. In her role with the grassroots organization, Kestler led activists who were calling for state and Washington politicians to step in and help save Lake Shore.

“We especially want to save jobs,” Kestler explained. “This is one of the biggest employers in the area, in [Chautauqua] County. And it’s very vital that it stays open, because you would have more people fleeing the state and going somewhere else to live, which then shrinks your tax base and taxes for other people go up.”

Congressman Tom Reed released a statement Wednesday calling the hospital a “staple” in the rural community.

“That’s why news that the hospital will stay open and cancel layoffs is so important for Chautauqua County: jobs will stay in the area and families won’t have to travel long distances to access they care they need,” Reed’s statement read.

“If someone were to, say, have a stroke… You have a very finite limited time window to get that person seen and get a certain drug administered,” Kestler noted. “And if you miss that window, that person may not recover from that stroke. They can be stabilized here. They can be treated here. They may stay here, and if they’re too bad, they may be sent to ECMC, or what have you.”

She said she simply wants people in Irving and the surrounding communities to know that their hospital is still here.

“The lab is back open, fully-staffed. They have wonderful nurses on the floors. The emergency room is open. The doors are open; caring individuals are ready to take care of you. Please come back.”

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