SILVER CREEK - Hundreds gathered in the Silver Creek High School auditorium to send the message of "Save Lake Shore Hospital." Residents, employees, elected officials and concerned citizens attended the rally Saturday afternoon, which was organized by Sen. Catharine Young.
Welcoming those in attendance was Silver Creek Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich. Since the school's close proximity, Lake Shore Hospital is a "vital part of the school community." Whenever there is an emergency with students or staff, they are taken to Lake Shore, Ljiljanich said.
Young invited several elected officials and hospital officials to speak at the rally to show their support. Young said if the hospital were to close, transportation times could triple, double and even quadruple for emergency services. Lives could even be lost if those crucial transportation times following any medical emergency were to increase.
State Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, speaks during a rally to save Lake Shore Hospital at Silver Creek Central School on Saturday.
Photo by Samantha McDonnell
"We are here to raise our voices to let Albany and all of Western New York how critical it is to save our hospital," said Young. "We are united. We are determined. We are going to work as hard as we can to save Lake Shore Hospital. We're going to continue to roll up our sleeves and continue to do everything that we can. We're going to do it together."
Silver Creek Fire Chief Jeff Griewisch spoke of two separate accidents recently, that if it were not for Lake Shore, lives may have been lost. He spoke of a multi-fatality on the New York State Thruway last year where three people died in a motor vehicle accident and seven people suffered injuries. Griewisch said Silver Creek Fire was the first to respond on scene and patients were transported to Lake Shore Hospital. He also spoke of a teenager who was saved at Lake Shore from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
Steve Cobb, director for EMS services in the county, said the Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services have been working behind the scenes with private ambulance companies to ensure transportation times are not disrupted if Lake Shore is to close.
Congressman Tom Reed said, just as in Dunkirk fighting for NRG, the community will continue to fight for Lake Shore. He believes that as there was a positive outcome in Dunkirk, there will be a positive outcome in Irving as well.
"(It's) an outstanding event to bring our community together to send a message to Albany, New York state and Washington to say Lake Shore Hospital will not close because we are going to stand united and fight for this incredible institution in our community," Reed said.
Assemblyman Andy Goodell said the best way to help save Lake Shore is to utilize its services. He spoke of the urgent care facility and clinic in the villages of Gowanda and Forestville and how they are an asset.
"Lake Shore can only stay open if all of you and your friends, relatives and neighbors make Lake Shore their first priority when it comes to health care. When we needed it, Lake Shore was there for us. ... Now it's time for us to give that help back to Lake Shore so they can stay open forever," Goodell said.