Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

March 21, 2014

Debatable diagnosis

Some cite reasons for ENH-Newfane closure concern, officials say concern based on incorrect statements


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — One commonly repeated statement in particular is the hospital’s alleged reduction and relocation of services. ENH said “there has been no discontinuation by the hospital or major patient programs at the Newfane site over the past four years.”

But a sign of trouble to residents is the loss of Newfane’s maternity ward. ENH’s statement said based on patient use trends, the maternity services were consolidated at ENH’s Lockport site on East Avenue in March 2010. But that was three years after the maternity unit was renovated, a $400,000 project, according to ENH’s statement and contrary to the idea that it happened just six months after the unit’s renovation.

A $3 million renovation of the Newfane facility’s medical and surgical unit took place in 2010, followed by the addition of the dialysis unit the following year.

However, ENH has said it had stopped Newfane employee cafeteria services on evenings and weekends. Pharmacy hours were reduced as well.

Another question raised by residents was ENH’s use of New York’s Healthcare Efficiency and Affordability Law funding. The HEAL money was to assist hospitals across the state to follow recommendations made by the Berger Commission, which was tasked with restructuring hospitals and streamlining healthcare facilities.

The commission recommended the merger of Newfane and Lockport’s hospitals. So the resulting creation of Eastern Niagara Hospitals was awarded a $9.1 million HEAL grant to pay off debt from both hospitals. In 1999, Newfane’s hospital would provide $2 million to assist Lockport’s.

In 2005, Newfane provided that $2 million by borrowing it, ENH said. Any debt left over from that was paid with the HEAL money, ENH said.

The Newfane site, located at 2600 William St. and once known as Inter-Community Memorial Hospital, has been under the same management as its Lockport counterpart since 1999. The hospitals formally became ENH in 2009.

Newfane employs roughly 200 people and has about 70 beds.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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