NEWFANE – Eastern Niagara Hospital, which ended acute care at its Newfane site in 2014, announced Thursday it is converting the emergency room there to an urgent care facility, as of March 15.
Hospital spokeswoman Carolyn Moore said the Newfane ER was averaging only 11 patients a day, and most of them ended up being transferred nine miles by ambulance to the hospital’s main site in Lockport. She said the hospital group was losing $1.5 million a year on the around-the-clock emergency room service in Newfane.
The urgent care facility, intended for injuries and illnesses that are not life-threatening, will be open eight hours a day. Eastern Niagara Hospital already has such a facility in Lockport, called Express Care. Located on South Transit Road, it is open 12 hours a day on weekdays and eight hours a day on weekends, and averages 30 patients a day, Moore said.
Town of Newfane Supervisor Timothy R. Horanburg, who fought desperately along with other local leaders against the closure of acute care at the former Newfane Inter-Community Memorial Hospital, had a much more mellow reaction to the end of emergency room service.
“I think it’s OK,” he said. “My first concern was our EMS (emergency medical service), but as both of our fire chiefs told me, they were usually going to Lockport anyway.”
Horanburg said residents whose lives aren’t in peril will be better off with urgent care. “I think it’s going to make health care more affordable, as opposed to going to an emergency room,” he said.
Moore said the charges for urgent care will be lower for those with insurance as well as those who are uninsured. The urgent care facilities will utilize physicians and registered nurses from the Eastern Niagara staff.
The hospital will save money by reducing the hours at Newfane, too. Horanburg said, “I knew the emergency room, the few people they were getting, they couldn’t keep that up for very long.”
About 10 employees connected with the Newfane ER will be offered positions in the urgent care facility or in Lockport. Moore said because of union “bumping rights,” it is hard to say if anyone would end up unemployed.
The Newfane site will continue to offer laboratory draws, radiology, dialysis and physical and occupational therapy.
The urgent care facility at Newfane will operate from noon to 8 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Moore said a check of usage records showed the noon-to-8 period was the busiest at the Newfane ER.
The urgent care hours in Lockport are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.