Goodell sees slimmer Lake Shore

New York state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell remains hopeful when it comes to the future of a Lake Shore Health Care Center in Irving.

During a visit this week at Herbert Star Apartments in Brocton, Goodell addressed the hospital’s situation, the governor’s recent budget proposal as well as issues affecting seniors in the county. About 25 residents of the complex attended the discussion.

Lake Shore’s status has been in the news since October when it was announced the center would be closing this month. A recent bankruptcy court decision, however, has given the hospital at least another couple days of operating with the next gathering expected on Monday.

“Lake Shore has been losing money for many, many years,” Goodell told those in attendance. In 2013, the Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York reported the Irving operation lost more than $9 million. Changes at the site since November, including the hiring of a new chief executive officer in John Galati, bring Goodell optimism for the future.

“My guess is they will be successful in restructuring it,” he said. “It will not be a full-service hospital, but they will keep the emergency room and diagnostic imaging. … Hopefully they will be able to keep their clinics and provide solid health care in that route.”

Currently, there is believed to be two prospective buyers looking at the facility.

The other major economic news in the county focused on the repowering of NRG Energy Inc. from a coal-burning to natural-gas facility. As he did in December during state Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s visit to Dunkirk to announce the project, Goodell offered his thanks to Albany leadership for making the investment happen and noted some final details of the plan are still being worked out.

“It wasn’t everything we wanted, but it was a lot of what we wanted.” he said.

He also briefly touched on the state budget proposal made last week. The $137 billion plan increases spending by 2 percent statewide, which continues a pattern by Cuomo of watching the bottom line.

“Some people used to say we had a real spending problem in New York state,” Goodell said. “And I disagree with that. We had no problem spending at all.

“In fact if you go and look back over the last 10 years, spending was about 50 percent higher than the rate of inflation and 50 percent higher than the income coming into the state.”

Those spending issues by previous administrations led to the state being far too generous with too many stakeholders. Tighter times mean school districts, counties and municipalities also need to start tightening their belts, which is never a popular option for those who are elected locally.

Short notice

It would have been nice to see more residents and stakeholders present for Tuesday’s regional budget presentation at the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator.

Former Syracuse mayor and current president and chief executive officer of the state’s Environmental Facilities Corp. Matthew Driscoll made the presentation in front of about 25 city and SUNY Fredonia officials. His appearance was set up quite quickly.

Maybe a little more notice would have brought out some community members. Of course, Tuesday was the most frigid of all the days this past week.

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 366-3000, ext. 401.