Rural residents lose vital resource after Lake Shore Hospital in Irving closes


IRVING NY (WIVB) – The Lakeshore Healthcare Center has closed permanently, forcing some south level patients to travel 20 minutes to the nearest hospital. Several people in Chautauqua County say this will put residents at risk.

“For many of our medical patients, when you are in an emergency you have no time to waste and that extra 20 minutes means everything, it can literally be the difference between life and death,” said said former employee Aubrey Cunningham.

Cunningham has worked at Lake Shore Hospital for five years. During this time, she watched as the hospital slowly shut down every one of its departments, from its medical surgeon unit to its nursing homes. She says staff were told in December that the emergency room and behavioral health department would close next. These are services, she says, that this community relies on.

“Chautauqua County has doubled the suicide rate in New York State on top of that we have higher rates of substance abuse more seniors and low income residents I mean we need to these services here,” Cunningham said.

The closest emergency room to the Irving campus is Brooks Memorial Hospital, 20 to 25 minutes away by car.

“I don’t know how you’re going to survive a heart attack, now I’ve worked here during the blizzard of 77 and nothing has changed,” said Louis Pelletter, Hannover’s deputy city supervisor. “You could have gotten here and it would take you a while and during a big snowstorm I don’t know what you’re going to do if you have a major heart attack.”

According to a spokesperson for Brooks TLC Hospital System, the closure is due to lack of staff to operate the hospital.

Cunningham says she is disappointed that hospital officials have not done more to prevent this from happening.

“There is a lot of disappointment knowing that our community and our employees are suffering,” she said. “Knowing that not much was done to ensure we had options.”

The closure affects nearly 200 full-time and part-time employees.


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