Ready to rally

Lake Shore Hospital will not be closing without a fight.

State officials plan to take the fight to keep the vital hospital open one step further with a rally on Saturday, Jan. 11 at Silver Creek High School from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

In an email inviting the public to show their support at the rally, State Senator Catharine Young described the decision on Oct. 31 as “extremely alarming.”

“The news that UPMC is trying to close Lakeshore Hospital has delivered a terrible blow to our community, and we have been working hard to turn the situation around. Recent decisions by UPMC are deeply disappointing and extremely alarming. When UPMC broke their promise of building a new hospital to replace flood-ravaged Tri-County in Gowanda, they said the region still would have access to emergency room and hospital care at Lake Shore. Now, the community was blindsided again by their abrupt announcement that they were closing Lake Shore, despite the fact that we worked very hard to successfully secure millions of state and federal dollars so that Tri-County could be rebuilt and Lake Shore could be strengthened. We’ve had enough of broken promises,” the email from Young said.

Young said although the hospital has taken the positive step of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which will allow it to restructure and hopefully find an appropriate buyer, now is the time to let everyone know what the community wants.

“The rally is a way for the community to stand up and say ‘We want and need Lake Shore Hospital to stay open.’ Recent rallies have been successful, like NRG, and it shows the power people have when they stand up together,” Young said in a phone interview Friday.

Young along with Assemblymen Andy Goodell and Joseph Giglio are organizing the event in order to show the importance of the hospital to the community.

“The profound importance of saving Lake Shore Hospital cannot be overstated. It truly is a matter of life and death. Long travel times to the emergency room in all kinds of weather lack of quality health care in our community the loss of hundreds of family-sustaining jobs economic decline these are the devastating consequences of closure,” Young stated in the letter.

She said in the case of weather like that which has affected Western New York recently, closing Lake Shore Hospital could mean the difference between life or death for patients who must travel further for treatment.

Young said they hope the rally will help gain the support of not only Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Health but also all of Western New York.

“We are not just trying to reach Albany, we also want to make all of Western New York understand this is a top priority. People’s lives are at stake, that is very compelling,” she said.

Young said although the community has done its part sending letters to get the word to Albany, the rally is a way to be “louder.”

“We urgently need your help. Although our state, federal and local representatives have been fighting to save the hospital, we need your support. It is time for our people to stand up and tell Albany that the loss of emergency care, access to vital health services and hundreds of jobs is not acceptable. We are a long way away from Albany, and it is far too easy for them to forget about us. We must let Albany know that we matter, too. Many people already have gotten involved by calling, sending letters and emails, and signing petitions. Their efforts truly are appreciated. But the time is now to get even louder.

“This rally is our chance to have our voices heard and send Albany a clear message that we need help to save our hospital. We need a huge turnout at our rally to have maximum impact,” she added in the letter.

Young noted the venue for the rally is indoors.

“The NRG rally we held was at the Dunkirk Pier and even though it was very cold over 1,000 people attended this rally will be indoors. We need as many people as possible to show up, that is very important,” she said.

She said Lake Shore officials are aware of the rally and that several groups will be represented on Jan. 11, including employees, elected officials, the Seneca Nation of Indians and the community. There will also be a range of speakers. More information is set to be announced later in the week.