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Brooks Memorial selects Town of Pomfret for new hospital

Brooks Memorial Hospital will build a $67 million, 29-bed hospital in the Town of Pomfret to replace its aging 65-bed Dunkirk facility.

It is expected to be called Brooks-TLC Hospital and will open to patients in late 2019 or early 2020, said Mary LaRowe, the hospital's CEO.

The announcement Monday that the hospital had chosen a site and filed a "certificate of need" with the state Health Department for the new hospital kicks off a lengthy review process. The hospital expects it to take about 18 to 24 months for plan review, engineering, design and construction of the new hospital.

It will be located at 3710-3724 E. Main St. in the Town of Pomfret, just outside the Village of Fredonia, about seven miles from the current hospital in Dunkirk.

Mary LaRowe, CEO of Brooks Memorial Hospital (Submitted photo)

LaRowe said she expects the state's review to take 60 to 90 days. "We think it will be very favorable, but we can't do anything, obviously, until we have that approval," LaRowe said. The hospital expects construction to get under way in spring 2018.

Plans also call for the merger of Brooks Memorial with TLC Health Network in Irving, which was formerly known as Lakeshore Hospital. The new hospital is part of the Brooks Memorial-TLC Health Network Transformation plan.

The Lakeshore facility at Routes 5 and 20 will serve as an ambulatory location focusing on outpatient services, inpatient and outpatient behavioral health/substance abuse, while the Dunkirk campus will continue to deliver traditional, inpatient hospital services in its new facility.

At the same time, a community-based process involving the reuse of the old hospital will begin.

"This once in a lifetime opportunity, building a new hospital, will only make it better for the patients that we serve," Chris Lanski, chairman of Brooks Memorial Hospital's board of directors, said in a statement announcing the new location. "Our No. 1 goal throughout this process has been to work together to ensure that we have a stronger health care delivery system in Chautauqua County."

The new hospital is described as smaller and "right-sized." The hospital will be built on 26 acres of land purchased from Country Side Sand & Gravel for an undisclosed price. The site was chosen from more than two dozen potential locations studied for more than a year. Lanski said it's a project the board has been considering for about a decade.

"The main improvements are going to be that of access and convenience," Lanski said. "It's going to provide a lot better access to all the patients, and be a lot more convenient for the people in our region. Obviously, a new hospital has tremendous advantages from a layout perspective and services can be delivered."

Plans call for the new hospital to be 100,000 square feet with 29 beds, including 21 medical/surgical beds, four intensive care beds and a four-bed maternity section. Also included will be an 11-bay emergency department, four operating rooms and two procedure rooms.

The current hospital has 180,000 square feet with 65 beds. Buildings on the property are from as far back as the 1920s, to as recent as the 1980s, LaRowe said.

The Pomfret location will give Brooks Memorial the ability to achieve special hospital designations moving forward, enhancing the hospital's reimbursement models, Lanski said.

Brooks and TLC Health Network last year affiliated with Kaleida Health after receiving preliminary approvals from the state for their merger. The Brooks board of directors said it will hold an open dialogue about the reuse of the Central Avenue facility.

"We understand the concerns of immediate neighbors, community leaders and citizens in general, that the reuse of this property should contribute to the positive development and improving quality of life in the neighborhood, the city and the Chautauqua County region," Lanski said in the statement announcing the location. "At the same time, the board of directors and leadership team at the hospital must also address their responsibility to make decisions that advance the mission of the organization."

SUNY Fredonia President Virginia Horvath and Lou DiPalma, vice president for Dunkirk-based Lake Shore Savings Bank, are co-chairing the reuse committee. Both serve on the hospital board. A cross-section of community members will be tapped to serve on the Hospital Re-use Project Advisory Committee.

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