More shake-ups on the way?

The Brooks Memorial Hospital Board of Directors has a lot on its plate.

Over the last five years, a once strong institution has lost its footing. Surpluses that were once the norm are now the exception.

Since the Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York inception in 2008, losses at the TLC Health Network and Brooks are more than $20 million. The responsibility for a large chunk of this deficit has fallen at the feet of former chief executive officer and president Jonathan Lawrence, who has not been with the organization since last March.

On Thursday, another move to affect the future may take place. The board, in a closed meeting, could decide on a new partnership or keep the current one with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center at Hamot Hospital.

While some residents are in favor of switching to Kaleida Health in Buffalo, it must be noted that major changes are currently taking place in their network. Not only is there a new chief executive officer, but layoffs are taking place at a number of the group’s hospitals.

It’s a rough time in health care – and our neighbors to the south may be better at weathering the changes.

In 1998, WCA Hospital in Jamestown was facing bleak times. After a $20 million loan from the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency was approved, the hospital began working with Hamot Hospital. The partnership worked so well, it took its association to another level in recent years with the affiliation.

Does UPMC have all the answers? Probably not. Does Kaleida? Certainly not at the moment.

But what the community does deserve is disclosure by the board of directors on what it is happening. The hospital is fully supported by the community and that community deserves to know when major decisions are made.

Board members did not return calls to the OBSERVER, which has been a major booster of the hospital in editorials. One of our major criticisms, however, is the lack of communication in what is happening at the valuable institution that is a private, not for profit.

Residents were shocked by the October announcement that Lake Shore Health Care Center was slated for closure. That shock was due to the lack of communication with the community.

We did not deserve that then – and we do not deserve that now or in the future.