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Eastern Niagara Hospitals to open outpatient surgery center

LOCKPORT – A ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday marked the grand opening of Eastern Niagara Hospital’s new $4.5 million outpatient surgery center, with local surgeons saying the new facility will be a boon to their practices.

March 19 is the approximate date for the facility to begin taking patients, according to Clare A. Haar, hospital president and CEO. The center will operate Monday through Friday.

The hospital already owned the South Transit Road building, hosting a primary care clinic and an urgent care facility, along with facilities for blood draw, radiology and occupational medicine. “Now we’ve added the surgery,” Haar said.

George V.C. Muscato, chairman of the hospital board, said a facility such as this helps bring more doctors to Niagara County. “We have to do something to attract them. A facility like this attracts this kind of person to come and perform surgery here,” he said.

Dr. Saman Chubineh, a gastroenterologist, said he expects to perform as many as 80 colonoscopies and endoscopies at the facility every month. “I’m very excited to do all my scopes here. It’s a beautiful facility and I think they did a great job,” Chubineh said. He called the four operating rooms “state of the art.”

Dr. Charles Fetterman, a Lockport ophthalmologist, said 90 percent of his practice is cataract removal, and he does about 800 outpatient surgeries a year. “The location is ideal, being on Transit Road here, so I think it will attract more patients. It’s state of the art. They purchased a lot of new equipment for me to keep us on the cutting edge of cataract surgery with the latest technologies,” said Fetterman, who has been working in the basement of Eastern Niagara’s Lockport hospital for 12 or 13 years.

Dr. Frank Schlehr, a specialist in orthopedic sports medicine, owns a medical building at Robinson Road and Brompton Drive in Lockport as well as a practice in Williamsville. He said he isn’t sure how many procedures he and his two partners will be doing at the new building. “I think it’ll enhance the practice, having the office so close to the surgery center,” Schlehr said. “It enhances the ability of the patients to stay in one area, as opposed to taking them to surgery centers a long way away.”

He said Lockport patients will like staying in town for their procedures instead of having to drive to Erie County.

Haar said the facility will create about 10 jobs at first, with more to follow. She said, “It’s absolutely a needed step. It’s what the public wants. We are hopeful that this will be a real community asset. This will enable people who are currently seeking services elsewhere, because they want the ambulatory setting, to stay local.”