LOCKPORT — The city is getting a new “Memorial Hospital," it was announced on Tuesday by representatives of Catholic Health. While no specific site has yet been chosen for the new structure, officials said construction is expected to begin next year with a planned completion date of 2023.
The construction of the $37 million, one-story Lockport Memorial on 20 to 25 acres of land will feature 37,000 square feet of space and will include “state-of-the-art emergency room services and 12 in-patient private rooms, as well as specialty services that will include women's and orthopedic services.
“It's been quite a journey,” said Mark Sullivan, president and CEO of Catholic Health Services, which signed an agreement to manage the existing Eastern Niagara Hospital on East Avenue after ENH had filed for bankruptcy in 2019.
Last November, Eastern Niagara Hospital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Faced with ongoing losses, the hospital’s board made the unanimous decision to approve the agreement with Catholic Health.
“This plan will require the approval of the United States Bankruptcy Court,” added Eastern Niagara Hospital president Anne McCaffrey on Tuesday.
“We will be working over the next several days to discuss the program in detail with the constituents in the bankruptcy process. We hope that once they are fully briefed, they will join us in asking Chief Bankruptcy Judge Bucki for approval of this plan.”
Sullivan said the new facility will be “centrally located in Lockport, preserving local health care for more than 80,000 residents in the surrounding community,” and it will serve as a “campus of Mount St. Mary's Hospital,” which is part of Catholic Health.
“We are ensuring sustainable, accessible, high-quality health care in Eastern Niagara County, while building a hospital of the future that will serve area residents for years to come,” he said during a morning press conference, later adding, “We're grateful for the support and coordination from the New York State Department of Health throughout this process. This agreement is about neighbors taking care of neighbors, preserving health care jobs in the community, and supporting the dedicated staff who have provided high-quality care under difficult circumstances."
A Buffalo native who's been with Catholic Health for 27 years, Sullivan said the hospital will be much smaller in scale to the current ENH, which is up to six stories tall in some areas and features 230,000 square feet of space. The new facility will utilize the variety of out-patient services available today to help treat more discharged patients at home, which is the growing national trend, they said.
Besides the $37 million cost estimate for the new Lockport Memorial, Sullivan said Catholic Health will also spend an additional $11 million on refurbishing its out-patient facility, Ambulatory Care Center/Lockport Imaging Center on South Transit Road.
The future of the Eastern Niagara Hospital campus will be determined through the bankruptcy process, Catholic Health officials said.
Sullivan said the status of current ENH employees was unknown before Tuesday's announcement. Catholic Health resource teams will begin evaluating current staffing over the next several months. He also said over the next two years, inpatient care, emergency services and diagnostic imaging will remain at Eastern Niagara’s East Avenue campus until the new hospital opens.
“Due to changing trends, Eastern Niagara Hospital is taking a proactive approach, working with Catholic Health to find a solution that best serves the Lockport community,” Sullivan said.
“Together with Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston we're building a health care model that will strengthen services across the Niagara region. Through this partnership, Lockport residents will be able to receive needed care at Eastern Niagara Hospital, Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, the Eastern Niagara Regional Surgery Center and a new multi-specialty practice, and ultimately at the new Lockport Memorial Hospital once it opens.”
Robert M. Greene, chairman of Catholic Health's board of directors, said Mount St. Mary’s Hospital has invested more than $30 million in the region over the past five years.
ENH was established in 2009, as a result of the merger of Lockport Memorial Hospital (built in 1908) and Inter-Community Memorial Hospital (built in 1958). Today, ENH maintains an emergency department, acute care, cardiac services, a full array of diagnostic services and an inpatient chemical dependency treatment unit at its main campus at 521 East Ave. No plans have yet been announced for the future of the current ENH site.
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