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Financial challenges force rural hospitals to change ways

Financially challenged rural hospitals are seeking out partnerships with larger medical centers or making difficult decisions about which services to scale back as they try to keep their doors open. It is a trend that accelerated in 2014 and is expected to continue this year in Western New York.

Of the dozen rural hospitals in the region, nine have an affiliation agreement of some kind with a hospital system in Buffalo, Rochester or Erie, Pa., with two of the hospitals – United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia and Medina Memorial Hospital – forming the agreements in 2014.

Looking ahead, 2015 is an important year for two Chautauqua County hospitals, Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk and Lake Shore Health Care Center in Irving, which ended their partnership last year and now are seeking their own paths to financial stability.

Niagara County

Eastern Niagara Health System

521 East Ave., Lockport, and 2600 William St., Newfane

Founded: 1908 and 1958 respectively

Full-time-equivalent employees: 538

Licensed inpatient beds: 136 at Lockport

Inpatient discharges, 2012: 6,221 at both sites

Revenues, ’13: $69.3 million

The hospital is set to open a new, outpatient Niagara Regional Surgery Center. The $3 million center will offer general and orthopedic surgery, ophthalmology and other specialties at 5875 S. Transit Road, Lockport.

Orleans County

Medina Memorial

200 Ohio St., Medina

Founded: 1908

Employees: 325

Inpatient beds: 50

Inpatient discharges, 2012: 2,108

Revenues, ’13: $33.3 million

Last June, the network that operates Medina Memorial Hospital and related health care facilities in Orleans and Genesee counties reached an affiliation agreement with Catholic Health System.

Erie County

Bertrand Chaffee

224 E. Main St., Springville

Founded: 1946

Employees: 160

Inpatient beds: 24

Inpatient discharges, 2012: 826

Revenues, ’13: $14.8 million

Bertrand Chaffee has been affiliated with Catholic Health since 2011 in an arrangement that leases a cardiologist to the smaller facility three days a week, among other benefits.

Genesee County

United Memorial Medical Center

127 North St., Batavia

Founded: 1944

Employees: 800

Inpatient beds: 131

Inpatient discharges, 2012: 5,001

Revenues, ’13: $79.9 million

UMMC is expected to officially join the Rochester Regional Health System early this year.

Wyoming County

Wyoming County Community Health System

400 N. Main St., Warsaw

Founded: 1911

Employees: 483

Inpatient beds: 62

Inpatient visits, 2012: 2,440

Revenues, ’13: $45.3 million

WCCHS, which is operated by Wyoming County, is unusual among the area’s rural hospitals for its public ownership. The hospital since 2012 has partnered with the University of Rochester Medical Center to provide specialty medical services in Warsaw.

Chautauqua County

Brooks Memorial

529 Central Ave., Dunkirk

Founded: 1898

Employees: 342

Inpatient beds: 65

Inpatient discharges, 2012: 3,141

Revenues, ’13: $43.6 million

Brooks Memorial is going through a strategic planning process as officials there determine what services it makes sense to preserve.

Lake Shore Health Care Center/TLC Health Network

12644 Seneca Road, Irving

Founded: 1965

Employees: 300

Inpatient beds: 35

Inpatient discharges, 2012: 1,780

Revenues, ’13: $38.1 million

Employees and community members have endured months of uncertainty over the hospital’s fate, ever since its operator announced plans to close by the end of January 2014.

WCA Hospital

207 Foote Ave., Jamestown

Founded: 1885

Employees: 866

Inpatient beds: 317

Inpatient discharges, 2012: 7,778

Revenues, ’13: $96 million

WCA Hospital since 2012 has had an affiliation agreement with UPMC Hamot.

Westfield Memorial

189 E. Main St., Westfield

Founded: 1944

Employees: 75

Inpatient beds: 4

Inpatient discharges, 2012: 115

Revenues, ’13: $11.2 million

Tiny Westfield Memorial has defied the odds in remaining a full-service medical center since 2007.

Cattaraugus County

Olean General Hospital

515 Main St., Olean

Founded: 1898

Employees: 792

Inpatient beds: 186

Inpatient visits, 2012: 5,803

Revenues, ’13: $109.7 million

Olean General and the Bradford Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania formed the Upper Allegheny Health System in 2009. In a 2013 joint venture, Olean General opened a cardiac cath lab with Kaleida Health.

Allegany County

Cuba Memorial Hospital

140 W. Main St., Cuba

Founded: 1925

Employees: 164

Inpatient beds: 20

Inpatient discharges, 2012: 139

Revenues, ’13: $10.1 million

Cuba Memorial is a “critical access,” not a full-service, hospital. The facility no longer has an emergency room, operating room or intensive care unit, but it does offer 24-hour urgent care, rehabilitation services, physical and occupational therapy and outpatient radiology and lab tests.

• Jones Memorial Hospital

191 N. Main St., Wellsville

Founded: 1921

Employees: 320

Inpatient beds: 70

Inpatient discharges, 2012: 1,948

Revenues, ’13: $35 million

Jones Memorial since 2012 collaborates with the University of Rochester Medical Center.

email: swatson@buffnews.com