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Sloan residents back St. Joseph

Sloan residents are working with neighboring municipalities as well as the staff of St. Joseph Hospital to keep the facility open.

Village Trustee Norbert Czosek on Tuesday delivered a petition to the hospital that carried more than 15 pages of signatures opposing the closing of the health care facility.

"We need a hospital here in Cheektowaga," Czosek said. "St. Joe's is a Catholic hospital, and it is in the black. There are some hospitals that are in the red, and they are being kept open."

A report from the state Commission on Health Care in the 21st Century recommended the closing of St. Joseph, as well as closing or merging several other hospitals and nursing homes in New York. The report noted that nearly half of the hospital beds in the region sit empty because of the decline in population and changes in health care, and the underused hospitals continue to duplicate expensive services.

The Catholic Health System has filed a lawsuit to stop the proposed closing of St. Joseph Hospital.

Czosek said he and his wife have been patients at the hospital and know firsthand how important it is.

"Last month my wife was in the intensive care unit [at St. Joe's] and she stayed in intensive care because they were no regular beds available," Czosek said.

The petition carries the signatures of more than 400 community members and hospital staff, but if the petition isn't enough, Trustee Anthony Sisti has a recommendation that will send a message straight to the top.

"I have something to say about our state legislators," Sisti said during Tuesday evening's meeting. "It is bad enough they tell us what to do with our money now they are telling us about our health care and well-being. Everyone in this area who voted for this . . . we'll vote them right out of office, Democrat, Republican, whatever. That's how important St. Joe's is to this community."

Village Clerk Treasurer Debbie Smith noted that the village has a large population of senior citizens who need a hospital close to home. She said the potential closing is a scary thought.

"It's eight minutes to a downtown hospital, but that's eight minutes driving time with no traffic," Smith said. "Look where they are asking seniors to drive in rush hour traffic, or -- this is Buffalo -- snow. St. Joe's is a profitable hospital why do they want to close it?"

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