Eastern Niagara Health System stops inpatient services

NEWFANE, N.Y. (WIVB) – People in Newfane have been fighting planned cutbacks at Eastern Niagara Hospital for a long time, but Friday the hospital will stop inpatient services.

Eastern Niagara Health System says it’s reorganizing by moving all inpatient services to its Lockport hospital, and shutting down their Newfane hospital. The company is cutting 60 full-time jobs.

The Newfane site will still have an emergency room, outpatient testing and therapy services.

Citizens and hospital staff accuse the board members and CEO Clare Haar for mismanaging money, a lack of transparency, and creating a toxic work environment for hospital employees.

About a month ago, Haar and the hospital’s chairman tried to address the community. The crowd decided to make a statement of their own.

Organizer Gina Guido-Redden said, “We, as a community, turned our backs and walked out, because they have shut us out and we do not agree with what they’re doing. And we’re trying to make that statement very clear. What they want to do is close down our rural hospital and trade it for an ambulatory care center that has a higher profit margin.”

Eastern Niagara Health System Chairman George Muscato says the combination o  a decrease in patient numbers, shrinking reimbursements from health insurers, and changes related to the Affordable Care Act have changed the hospital’s financial situation.

Service Employees International Union 1199 sent a letter to the State Health Department, asking for an independent needs assessment

A prayer vigil has been set up by support group members starting at 9 p.m. at the hospital.

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