In muddy conditions, a groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday on the site of Catholic Health’s new Mount St. Mary’s Hospital. Catholic Health officials, local politicians, and others gathered in a tent on Hall’s Apple Farm for the occasion.
Guests were escorted to the site on a tractor-pulled hayride, and were offered stress-balls and chapstick from Catholic Health, as well as apples and apple pie from Hall’s. Once speeches were complete the first groundbreaking was done by assembled guests.
The new hospital will bereplacing Eastern Niagara as the main hospital of the Lockport Area. Catholic Health has been aiding Eastern Niagara in the transitionary period.
“This is a lifesaving decision for a lot of people to know that a hospital will continue to be in our community” said Niagara Hospital President and CEO Anne McCaffery.
Mount St. Mary’s Hospital is intended to take on the role of a “microhospital,” which involves more of a focus on specialist care.
“The services here are going to be a hub, or a gateway to other services within Catholic Health” Catholic Health CEO Mark Sullivan said. “There’s a huge double-digit increase in rural hospitals closing throughout America, and the goal for us was to build a sustainable model that can take care of itself and be here for the long term.”
Other individuals in attendance were Catholic Health Executive Vice President & Chief Business Development Officer Joyce Markiewicz, and Rev. Msgr. Robert E. Zapfel of the Diocese of Buffalo. Also present were politicians Congressman Chris Jacobs, state senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, Assemblyman Mike Norris, and Lockport Supervisor Mark Crocker.
Bob Hall of Hall’s Apple Farm, who sold the land to Catholic Health said there was some confusion in the community on whether his farm would be closing to make way for the new hospital. He emphasized that those were only rumors, and that it will still be functioning as normal.
“One person gets on social media, and says that you're closing, and it starts from there.” Hall said. “We are not closing. Hall’s apple farm is going to continue.”
The hospital is not expected to be completed until 2023, but it’s arrival is still eagerly awaited, particularly by Hall.
“I couldn’t think of a better neighbor,” said Hall. “and I’m going to be a good neighbor to them.”
A recording of the full ceremony can be found on the Catholic Health Facebook page.