Efforts to keep St. Joseph Hospital open suffered a blow Tuesday when an appellate court dismissed the appeal of a State Supreme Court ruling upholding a state commission's decision to shutter the Cheektowaga hospital.
"While this is disappointing news," said Joseph McDonald, president and CEO of the Catholic Health System, "it does not discourage us from continuing our legal efforts to keep the hospital open."
St. Joseph is one of 57 hospitals statewide targeted for closing.
DeGraff Memorial in North Tonawanda and Millard Fillmore in Buffalo, both Kaleida hospitals, are two other Western New York hospitals on the list.
The Catholic Health System has waged a vigorous legal and public relations battle to keep St. Joseph open. Earlier this year, it unveiled its "We Believe" campaign, which trumpeted the hospital's successes as well as its support within the community.
Outgoing Cheektowaga Supervisor James J. Jankowiak said that despite Tuesday's court decision, he remains optimistic state leaders will change their minds about St. Joseph.
"It's one of the shining stars of our community," he said.
The hospital not only provides critical medical services to local residents, but also is a major employer in the region, Jankowiak said.
He also pointed out that St. Joseph is operating in the black.
"We have a healthy hospital," he said. "It's not in a financially depressed situation. We just put $10 million into the emergency room. . . . I don't know how the the state can say this is good for the community. We're hoping that Gov. [Eliot L.] Spitzer sees how important St. Joseph is to the community."
In its appeal, the Catholic Health System had argued that the state had no business telling a private institution to close. McDonald said the health system would appeal the Appellate Court's decision.
He added that the system is also pursuing a case in the State Supreme Court alleging that the state commission recommending the closing used faulty information in reaching its decision.