The financially troubled Lake Shore Health Care Center in Irving remains on life support. But the hospital may not close this month, as was expected, because its operator, prospective buyers and members of the State Legislature are continuing discussions to save the hospital.
TLC Health Network, which requested permission to close Lake Shore on Jan. 14, has sufficient funds to keep it open through the end of January and – if short-term financing can be arranged – could have enough time to reach a deal with one of two potential purchasers, TLC spokesman Scott Butler said Friday.
As sale negotiations continue, State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, and members of the Assembly have organized a rally in support of the hospital at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at Silver Creek High School.
Those are the latest developments in the efforts to keep open the Lake Shore hospital that, with 460 workers, is one of northern Chautauqua County’s largest employers.
Last October, TLC announced plans to close Lake Shore on Jan. 31 because of ongoing financial losses.
TLC in December asked the state Health Department for permission to close the hospital on Jan. 14 and, later that month, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York.
TLC officials said then that Lake Shore had lost more than $9 million in 2013 and had received $3.7 million in life support from the affiliated Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk to keep the institution alive.
Butler said TLC officials no longer plan to try to close the hospital by Jan. 14 – or even Jan. 31, if possible.
“We are planning to go as long as we can,” Butler said.
TLC officials hope that short-term financing can be arranged by one of the two prospective buyers, or through the state government, to keep the hospital open until a sale is concluded, he said.
Both prospective buyers have submitted letters of intent, but neither has signed a sale contract, said Butler, who described their interest as “very serious.” He confirmed that one of the would-be buyers is a group headed by Anthony Borrello, the owner of TPS Petroleum Products in Silver Creek, whose interest in the hospital has previously been reported.
TLC officials also have met with Young, Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, and Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Ellicott, to discuss what role the state government can play in ensuring the hospital remains open. Young is seeking a large crowd for next Saturday’s rally.
“We are unified in our strong message that we need continued access to quality health care in our region. When you couple the loss of health care with the loss of jobs, it is devastating,” she said in a statement Friday.
A Health Department representative said this week that the requested closure remains under review.
TLC operates Lake Shore and Gowanda Urgent Care & Medical Center along with several outpatient facilities and clinics.
TLC was itself a part of the Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York, or LERHSNY, which formed in 2008 after the merger of the original TLC and Brooks.
In October, an independent TLC board was created to operate the Irving hospital, a step meant to improve the hospital’s chances of being sold and avert a shutdown. But Lake Erie Regional Health System’s board still must approve a sale.