IRVING - Unwavering support from the community and help from local leaders appears to have paid off with the announcement Wednesday that Lake Shore Health Care Center will remain open.
The community has kept a close eye on the situation at Lake Shore Hospital since closure plans were announced last October. Spurred by the concern for access to health care and a devastating loss of jobs, many local politicians did what they could to help.
State Sen. Catharine Young, R-C-I, Olean, has been involved since the beginning, coordinating communication with the state Health Department and securing a $1 million loan for the facility.
Young said she was excited to hear the news Wednesday that TLC Health Care Network was canceling its closure plans and WARN notices.
"This is the day we have been waiting for," she said. "... We will have more information as things progress. I am excited we are making progress and it is great to have the community behind this. We had the rally for Lake Shore a few months ago and I really want people to know that their voices do count."
Young was not alone in getting Lake Shore to this point. Congressman Tom Reed, R-Corning, played a part in having Federal Emergency Management Agency funds owed to the hospital released.
"Lake Shore plays a significant role in the quality of life in our area - from giving patients the critical health care they need to the hundreds of jobs the hospital supports. That's why news that the hospital will stay open and cancel layoffs is so important for Chautauqua County: jobs will stay in the area and families won't have to travel long distances to access the care they need.
"Between the federal funds we secured for the hospital earlier this year and partnering with hospital and local officials, we're working to get the hospital in the best possible position to secure its long-term viability. Rural hospitals are real staples in our community and we'll continue the work to make sure Lake Shore stays here for years to come," Reed said.
Other county, state and local officials thanked Young and Reed for their efforts.
Chautauqua County Legislator George Borrello, R-Irving, one of those officials, also attributed community support to Wednesday's outcome.
"We need to keep focused so that the community and stakeholders don't lose sight. This situation just shows the turn around that can come from community support and holding people accountable," he said. "We are not completely out of the woods yet, but the bottom line is there are people there running the hospital with the intent of keeping it open, not looking at how to close it."
Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan said he was encouraged by the news and will continue to stay involved.
"We will continue to closely support and monitor the situation to keep health care jobs and access to health care in Chautauqua County," he stated.
Hanover Town Supervisor Todd Johnson emphasized the benefits for the community, employees and first responders and hopes there will be continued support for Lake Shore.
"The main thing is the community needs to stick together and utilize the services to keep the hospital open forever," he said.
State Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, agreed.
"Although this announcement is great news for employees and the community, tremendous challenges remain. I am continuing to work closely with Lake Shore to help address those issues and encourage everyone in the Silver Creek, Irving and Gowanda areas to utilize Lake Shore whenever they need high-quality health care services. Ultimately, the success and survival of Lake Shore Hospital will depend on the level of community support it receives from everyone," he added.