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Lake Erie Health announces changes to plans for Gowanda/Perrysburg

The corner of Jolls Road and Stafford Road will continue to exist as an open field - at least for the time being. With the official word that there will be no Tri-County Memorial Hospital built on the corner in Perrysburg, Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York will be contacting the Hiller family, who donated the land, to come up with viable options for use of the property. (Photo by Mary Pankow)
Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York (LERHSNY) has officially announced that plans to build a replacement facility in Perrysburg for the former Tri-County Memorial Hospital have been canceled. Officials at the health system are saying that the difficult decision was made after thorough research conducted by several external consultants indicated that the new facility would operate at a significant and unsustainable financial loss to the health system.

“We know that this will be a great disappointment to area residents who were very much looking forward to the new facility in Perrysburg,” stated Scott Butler, vice president of Community Relations. “We are disappointed as well. But, we believe that we have found an alternative solution that will help us move forward in a new direction that will be both financially sustainable and still provide extended, high-quality health care services to the greater Gowanda/Perrysburg area.”

The alternative proposal alluded to by Butler involves repurposing some grant funds from the New York State HEAL program to modifying the existing, temporary Gowanda Urgent Care & Medical Center on Commercial Street to become a permanent and expanded facility. While details for the new facility should be considered tentative until final approval is granted by the New York State Department of Health, current plans for the facility include added ultrasound, mammography, cardiac rehabilitation, and physical therapy services, among others. Officials have stated that they are also looking at the possibility of expanding hours for weekdays.

“While we are unable to provide the Emergency Department services and inpatient beds in this immediate area that many were hoping for,” says Butler, “we are quite pleased to be able to bring back most of the other services that were lost to this community as a result of the flooding of Tri-County Memorial Hospital, and show everyone that we are still very dedicated to providing high-quality health services to the people of this community.”

LERHSNY officials indicated that a shift from the original plan needed to be made in light of challenges health care providers are facing across the nation. Specific issues cited in regard to building the replacement facility included declining populations and patient volumes, increased costs, pending health care reform mandates, and decreased reimbursement rates.

“I think everybody recognizes that health care is having a tough time and will be for the foreseeable future,” says J. Gary Rhodes, Interim CEO for LERHSNY. “The board is really focused on taking the right steps to not only keep the system going but be able to expand and grow.”

Rhodes also stated that LERHSNY is in the process of forming a Community Advisory Group made up of several local residents and employees to improve the lines of communication between the health system and the community. An announcement is also expected in the near future regarding a public meeting to discuss Tri-County Memorial Hospital, the details of the new Gowanda Urgent Care & Medical Center, and the future of health care in the local area.

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