Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

March 22, 2014

Newfane rallies around hospital

Residents demand a plan to keep ENH-Newfane 'alive'


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

“This program is an invaluable asset to our students,” Artieri said.

ENH officials have said no decision has been made to close the Newfane hospital.

Earlier this week, Niagara County legislators John Syracuse, R-Newfane, and Richard Updegrove, R-Lockport, pushed a resolution through the legislature urging ENH CEO Clare Haar to place a moratorium on further cuts at the Newfane site and find ways to continue community services there.

Syracuse said the supervisors are planning a meeting with the hospital's board of directors sometime next week, although no date has been set yet.

“We want to have them engage in a large scale study of this community's needs,” Syracuse said. “As stakeholders in this healthcare system, we deserve to have a decision in its long-term direction.”

Syracuse, a chiropractor, compared cutting services and employees at ENH to an amputation.

“When the hospitals merged, we were promised that both hospitals would remain open and functional. Now, they've been taking a bone saw to our Newfane hospital,” Syracuse said. “Newfane entered this merger healthy. It shouldn't suffer the death of a thousand cuts.”

The town boards and the legislature will pledge support and assistance to the hospital's board of directors to come up with a comprehensive sustainability plan, according to Updegrove.

“We believe this process needs to begin at once,” he said.

Community members were invited to speak out at the rally. Some shared tearful testimonials about the hospital's importance in the community. Others offered statistics about dwindling healthcare availability in rural areas. There were some fierce rallying cries questioning why medical staff positions were cut at the hospital, rather than financial or clerical jobs.

One, a longtime nurse at Newfane hospital, echoed the crowd's sentiment when she got to the stage.

“We deserve to know what's going on,” she said.

Contact reporter Kaley Lynch at 439-9222 ext. 6245 or tweet to @Lynchie17

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