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Support voiced for Irving hospital

TLC Health Network held a public meeting Thursday evening to discuss potential changes to recommendations of the New York State Commission on Health Care Facilities.

TLC, formerly known as Lake Shore Hospital in Irving, may lose its acute-care beds and 40 long-term-care beds in its skilled nursing facility. Louis Frascella, the chief executive officer, was the principal speaker at the session in Silver Creek High School.

About 200 people turned out to support the facility and its plans to reverse the rulings, which became law at the end of 2006.

Assemblyman William Parment, D-North Harmony, said he refused to approve the bill that supported the commission. Parment called the bill "somewhat daft," in that the loss of acute-care beds would change the regulations that allow TLC to operate the mental-health unit on the campus.

"They can't perform other functions without the acute-care beds," Parment said.

Frascella noted that the hospital has been merging and forming new alliances for several years. The Irving facility combined with Tri-County Hospital in Gowanda in 2002 and has also taken on other services, including long-term home health care and inpatient chemical dependency.

Among the local speakers supporting the hospital's efforts to avoid closing was Hanover Supervisor Kathy Tampio, who noted several personal experiences both as a patient and as a visitor to the facility.

"They have comforted and sustained us," she said. "Now it's time for us to do the same in return."

Adrian Stevens, a representative of the Seneca Nation of Indians, said the Tribal Council has also pledged its support. He noted that a member of the Tribal Council, Virginia Cooper, also serves as a member of the board at TLC.

"We want to make it clear that we want to promote health care services locally," Stevens said.

Frascella said the hospital operates about 36 acute-care beds and an intensive care unit. He noted that transfer costs to local patients who would be seen in the emergency room and then transferred to another hospital could result in more than $3 million in extra costs.

The closest facility would be Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, which is about a 20-minute drive from the Irving hospital.

Those attending the meeting were given sample letters to sign to be sent to Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer, as well as signs and buttons to wear supporting the hospital's cause.

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