A glimmer of hope for hospital

“There may still be opportunities to provide local access to quality health care services in this area” was a statement by Interim CEO of TLC Network John Galati as reported in the OBSERVER on Nov. 26.

These are indeed “encouraging” words, as viewed by an anxiously concerned public. I am sure there are many who extend a warm “welcome” to Mr. Galati.

Based upon several recent observations and the statement by Mr. Galati, concerned people from a broad geographical region seem to feel there may be a slight glimmer of hope. They are the good folk from the sun-kissed hills and valleys of Cattaraugus, Perrysburg and Forestville; from the bountifully productive meadows of Collins, South Dayton and Cherry Creek; from the picturesque and hospitable hills and valleys of Gowanda, the Amish Trail and Conewango; and, from the expansive scenic surrounding areas in and around Silver Creek and a broad stretch of the Routes 5 and 20 corridor. The deeply concerned folks from these areas hopefully will begin to see a glimmer of possibility for the continuation of access to appropriate quality at the Lake Shore Health Care Facility.

What a shocker it was back some weeks ago, when most of us heard the startling announcement that Lake Shore Health Care Center was going to close its doors. Many were completely devastated. The official announcement made by the Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York was unbelievable!

An absolutely imperative necessity to this area is the need for available, appropriate, 24/7 hospital care. And, in a health care emergency, distance is of the essence; timing is critical!

All of us recall the catastrophic flood which occurred in the Gowanda area four years ago, Aug. 9 and 10, 2009. It was a tragic event, and Tri-County Hospital (TLC Health-Gowanda Campus), along with hundreds of the residents and places of business were seriously affected. The closure, and later the demise of this hospital campus, has seriously impacted a very broad spectrum of the population. And then, on top of that, there came the earth-shattering, calamitous news concerning the closing of the Lake Shore Hospital Campus, thereby quadrupling the tragic impact many times over. The news has been devastating.

People of all ages that live, work and travel through an area such as ours, expect and depend on quality health care and its availability, facilities and services. We call on federal, state, regional and local officials and those in health care authority to move expeditiously with a resolved, dynamic transformational plan for the continuation of the Lake Shore Hospital Campus. The availability of hospital services are vital to a growing, aging population. And we haven’t even mentioned the positive impact a resolution would have on jobs and the local economy.

There was an earlier generation of citizens who recognized the need and moved forward with the development and construction of both the Lake Shore facility and Tri-County Hospital. By so doing, they planned for the well-being of future generations of its citizens. They were wise indeed! They scrimped and saved, sacrificed and worked, to bring to this area two fine health care facilities. Indeed, a dependent population of people from these areas and beyond, was then, as is now, most in need of accessible, viable hospital health care and services.

Truly, this region is a geographical plus. A local hospital facility is an essential necessity for this area. In a critical health emergency, timing is strategic! Let it be said that our current generation of leadership recognizes its mission, as did the generations of the past. Let it be said, that our leaders of today are as resilient, thoughtful and dynamic … as those of the past … and provide well for the health care needs of those whom now and will in the future live, work and travel the shining hills, valleys and lake plain of our area.

Based upon the strength of the local history, we are confident that the present generation and the current leadership will move dynamically to meet the challenges of the present! They, along with all of us, must respond with constructive determination. For you see, it is the pressing health needs of the people, from the youngest to the most elderly, that must serve as the ultimate priority, that of maintaining a vibrancy of hospital services to this broad and very much in need geographical region. As a united body, we can do no less! In short .. the People, the administration and staff, and the board, these three groupings …what a positively powerful triangulation!

Dr. Robert L. Heichberger is professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Fredonia and distinguished professor at Capella University. He is an award winning author. All of the past columns can be viewed on www.fromourperspective.net/ Send comments to: Rheich@aol.com