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March 19, 2014

Newfane hospital finding public support


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — But that didn’t stop people from attending the Monday meeting, however.

Residents packed the meeting room, some carrying signs proclaiming that the hospital should remain open. Flyers appeared on some vehicles parked near the Town Hall on Main Street, while a number of local businesses put out signs in support of saving the hospital.

But, Eastern Niagara Hospital officials are saying they have not made a decision to close the Newfane site. The hospital is looking at alternative ways to cut costs, ENH community relations director Carolyn Moore said in a written statement.

“In order to remain viable, it is imperative that the hospital proactively examine opportunities to reshape the organization and utilize its resources in the most efficient manner possible — in accordance with the utilization of services by patients,” Moore said. “The hospital is studying a variety of options to reduce expenses, but has made no decisions.”

There have been 15 layoffs at both ENH sites, Lockport and Newfane, since Jan. 1, hospital officials said. On Saturday, Horanburg said the layoff total was closer to 21.

In January, ENH said the Newfane site had stopped employee cafeteria services on evenings and weekends. Pharmacy hours were reduced as well, down to 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Residents have said other services are being cut, but ENH officials dispute that.

“No patient services have been eliminated at the Newfane site,” Moore said Tuesday. “We might adjust hours, but no services have been cut over the last couple of years.”

Moore said Eastern Niagara Hospital has made significant improvements at the Newfane site. Those improvements include enhancing radiology equipment and technology, investing $3 million in 2010 to renovate the medical and surgical unit and adding the dialysis unit in 2011, “after this service was identified as a medical need in the community,” Moore said.

The recent layoffs were in response to decreased inpatient volume and a shift toward outpatient services, according to Moore’s statement. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, changes in the way hospitals are paid, increases in uncompensated care and charity care, the Medicare sequestration cuts and the difficult healthcare environment have all contributed to ENH’s financial challenges, Moore said.

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