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Closing hospitals will harm New Yorkers' health

The proposed closing of St. Joseph Hospital, DeGraff Hospital and the inpatient services of the TLC Health Network (Lake Shore and Tri-County Hospitals) will deny thousands of people ready access to medical care. Targeting rural and suburban areas served by these facilities is neither sensible nor practical.

This shortsighted political move is not going to keep people healthy and accident free. Accidents will continue to happen at schools, on area roads, on farms, in the workplace and at home. Emergencies and conditions necessitating inpatient hospitalization will not be eliminated.

Mercy Hospital has been unable to adequately assume double duty since Our Lady of Victory Hospital closed. Go to the emergency room; patients are in beds in the hallways. How sanitary is that? Family members are pressed against the bed as staff attempt to navigate through the congestion due to insufficient space. Wait times are far too long. Forget privacy! How will remaining hospitals be able to adequately meet the needs of all the people now serviced by the targeted facilities?

If there are so many vacant beds, why do people needing inpatient admission languish in emergency rooms because no beds are available? On six occasions in the past year, I experienced single-digit and double-digit waiting times with my husband, who was confined to a narrow, uncomfortable ER gurney because no hospital bed was readily available.

Have the commissioners visited Western New York? Have they driven around the towns that will be affected by their unreasonable folly? Have they calculated distances between these areas and the surviving hospitals? Have they considered the impact that distance will have on family members wanting to be with their hospitalized loved one?

Have they considered the congestion on thoroughfares as emergency vehicles race to transport people to the remaining hospitals, when time is of the essence? Have they recognized the paucity of space currently available to emergency vehicles when they arrive at hospitals?
Have they considered the added cost to patients, insurance companies and van and emergency transport companies resulting from the added distance the proposed closures will impose?

Recently the governor announced the availability of $20 million in state funds designated for the Buffalo Bills. Why couldn't that money fund support for the hospitals inaccurately considered unnecessary?

Local legislators need to stand up for their constituents, and their fellow legislators need to support them, because one day soon they could be facing mandated hospital closings in their districts. Failure to kill this proposal condemns the people of Western New York and the remaining facilities to chaos, delay of service, job loss, increased financial burdens and inferior medical care.

Catherine Brennan lives in Evans.

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