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Eastern Niagara Hospital eliminates Lockport maternity unit, cuts services at Newfane site

Eastern Niagara Hospital, in financial trouble again, announced Wednesday that on June 30 it will close the maternity unit at its main location in Lockport.

The hospital also will eliminate some services at its Newfane site, including X-rays, dialysis and Express Care.

Forty-one workers will lose their jobs, hospital CEO Anne E. McCaffrey said.

The cutbacks will save an estimated $2.1 million a year.

McCaffrey also said she intends to seek state Health Department grants to pay off $8 million in debt and for a new $6 million to $7 million information technology system that would link up with that of Kaleida Health, Eastern Niagara's parent group.

"It’s our responsibility and duty to rectify this situation and strategically remodel the services we offer in order to remain viable for the future," McCaffrey said in a news release. "By making these changes now, we will be addressing the future of ENH and to put our resources into the services that are sustainable for the community."

In 1998, 500 babies were born in the Lockport hospital, but last year, the figure was 320. The Buffalo News reported Sunday that the number of women of childbearing age in Niagara County has dropped 24 percent in recent years.

The 134-bed hospital will stick with its plan to build a new $9.8 million emergency department, with ground to be broken this summer.

"It will heighten our ability to provide a much higher level of emergency services and acute care for the entire eastern Niagara County region," McCaffrey said. "This will clearly be our vision for the future and the cornerstone of care we provide to our community."

On July 1, UB MD physicians will take over the ENH emergency room. They already staff emergency departments in other Kaleida hospitals.

The hospital's announcement said Eastern Niagara "can no longer maintain services with low volume or those that incur extensive losses on an ongoing basis. ENH also cannot sustain multiple specialties at numerous sites throughout the region."

The urgent care, dialysis and radiology services at the former Inter-Community Memorial Hospital in Newfane will disappear.

McCaffrey said the changes will be made in 60 to 90 days, once the State Health Department approves them and other providers are obtained for the dialysis patients.

The Newfane site will continue to offer laboratory work and physical therapy, spokeswoman Carolyn Moore said. Also, the 30-bed Reflections inpatient substance abuse treatment facility, recently moved from Lockport to Newfane, will remain open.

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