LERHSNY officials look to bring new, old going forward

Editor’s note: This is part three in a three-part series.

IRVING – Looking toward the future, Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York officials said they would like to bring back some old practices as well as some new ones.

In a recent interview with the OBSERVER, LERHSNY Interim Chief Executive Officer Gary Rhodes said the board of directors has discussed bringing back annual reports to the community.

“We have discussed a little bit getting back to having an annual report to the community and what I’ve seen work and what I would be suggesting is doing it at one of the regional chamber of commerce meetings,” he said, adding an educational section about the hospital could be part of the presentation.

In December, an OBSERVER editorial took note of the absence of annual reports since 2008.

LERHSNY Board Chairman Christopher Lanski said the public annual report used to be a requirement, which was later changed.

“There was a requirement in the old, antiquated model that Brooks was set up on originally that public members you would pay $10 or something to be a member and then as a result of that, there was a requirement that you have a public meeting. When we redid the corporation they said, ‘We don’t do this anymore.’ So, we dropped it because we thought it wasn’t necessary, but it really is necessary,” he said, noting the board’s desire to reconnect with the community.

The LERHSNY board is also engaged in some strategic planning for the future of Brooks Memorial Hospital.

“(Quality) is our number one objective and our duty is that of quality and how we are going to keep our eye on quality and then strategically where are we going to go to position ourselves for the future,” Lanski said.

Rhodes explained in addition to the board dealing with Lake Shore Hospital’s closure and chapter 11 bankruptcy processes it must also factor in changing health care while planning for the future.

“All this is happening while there’s so much change about to hit us. If you think about that businesses of 50 and fewer employees are providing health insurance now and folks can go to an exchange and buy it, for maybe less money but if you think about $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 out of pocket first before you have any coverage. We are very concerned about what that is going to do to our elective outpatient business,” he said.

Lanski said the changes make it very difficult to forecast service usage.

Rhodes said one thing that is coming out of strategic planning is filling a marketing/public relations position. He said he hopes this person will help LERHSNY become more present in local media. He said this new hire would also be responsible for designing a new website, which was taken down for Brooks and Lake Shore hospitals several months ago.

He added the LERHSNY Board also plans to build on Brooks’ strengths.

“I think you have a strong community hospital with strong services like (obstetrics) and those things that we are going to do our very best to improve and reinvent and change. So, this strategic plan will be looking at changing Brooks from what I call a four-wall hospital to more reaching out to the community in a number of ways with services. We don’t know how it’s going to turn out yet but that is what we are moving toward,” he said.

LERHSNY is the parent company of both Brooks Memorial and Lake Shore hospitals. LERHSNY filed a closure plan with the state Department of Health in October for Lake Shore due to a reported $9 million deficit in 2013. Later it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The court recently allowed Lake Shore to borrow funds from Brooks in order to stay open until the next hearing on Feb. 3 when further funding will be discussed.

Part I: “Officials: Hospital closure not plan A” ran Jan. 12. Part II: “Officials discuss the roles of the LERHSNY board and Hamot” ran Jan. 19. Comments may be sent to