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Lake Shore hospital plans to stay open under its own management

Following 10 months of uncertainty over its fate, embattled Lake Shore Health Care Center in Irving no longer plans to close and is no longer seeking a buyer, a hospital spokesman told The Buffalo News this morning.

The hospital has withdrawn the closure plan it filed last October with the state Labor Department, said Scott Butler, a spokesman for TLC Health Network, which operates the hospital and related facilities.

The hospital – which is licensed for 35 in-patient beds and 120 long-term beds – also received permission from the state Health Department to remain open under its own management, after previously operating as part of a Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York that included Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk. The two hospitals in June announced plans to dissolve the umbrella entity and go their separate ways.

TLC Health Network and its new board of trustees some time this fall hope to put in place a plan to emerge from reorganizational bankruptcy and get the hospital on solid financial footing, the network said in a statement released late this morning.

Citing millions of dollars in losses, the Lake Erie system last fall announced its plans to close Lake Shore Health Care Center, a move that roiled communities in the portions of three counties that the Irving hospital serves.

However, TLC Health filed for bankruptcy protection in December and has spent the months since seeking a buyer who would keep Lake Shore Health Care Center open. The hospital never received what it considered a serious offer, but it has managed to access enough money to stay open and keep its creditors at bay.

TLC Health had filed a notice in October with the state Labor Department warning of 438 layoffs at the hospital when it closes on Jan. 31, and the notice was updated in January, April and June as previous threatened closing dates came and went.

Lake Shore Health Care Center has 400 full- and part-time employees at its facilities now.

The hospital sent letters to employees on Tuesday saying it was formally withdrawing that notice, and sent word to the Labor Department of the same. The hospital is in bargaining on a new contract with its employees who are members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.