BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The sudden October 16th announcement that Lake Shore Hospital would be closing in a matter of months has people scurrying to try and save it.
News 4 Senior Correspondent Rich Newberg has learned of a new proposal to buy the hospital property for between $11 and $15 milion. A letter of intent was sent Friday by a business group headed by Tony Borrello, who is currently developing a hotel and water park on property near the hospital. Sources close to negotiations tell Newberg the group is being told that a $50,000 deposit would be required and would be non-refundable if the deal falls through.
Newberg also learned that consultants managing Lake Shore would like buyers to agree not to compete with Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk. The consultants are tied to Hamot Hospital in Erie Pennsylvania, which handles some of Brooks' more serious cases.
Critics of the announced closing of Lake Shore include doctors who operate at the hospital. Ophthalmologist Vischal Sharma says, "This hospital serves an essential need to this community, and I think as a community we have to do everything we can to keep it open." Regarding any potential non-compete clause, Sharma says, "One might say it's trying to control the traffic of health care." The interim CEO overseeing Lake Shore, Gary Rhodes, is also tied to Hamot as a Vice President, refused News 4 requests for an interview.
Other critics are concerned that the assets of Lake Shore are being drained, even as a potential buyer's offer may be considered by the Board of Directors. Nursing home patients at Lake Shore are being told they must leave by the end of January.
For many, this has been their home for years. Newberg asked one elderly patient, Blanche Sicurella, what she would do. She responded "I really don't know. Just cry my head off, maybe." Her daughter Antoinette Sicurella said, "My mother's 92 years old, but she's so in a turmoil because now we're going to have to pick up and relocate her." Another long term care patient, Irene Jewitt told Newberg, "I feel like I'm being railroaded and deserted."
Twelve nursing home patients left Lake Shore last week, according to one count, and patients are leaving by the day, Newberg reported. Michelle Davis, a laid off staff member at the long term care component of Lake Shore is concerned about the well being of her sister, who has special health needs, and has been a patient there. "I put my trust into Lake Shore because I was an employee so long and I trust everybody here," said Davis," and for that to be taken from her and from me is just, you know, you're beside yourself. What do you do?"
The Board of Directors may vote on the purchase offer during their meeting Tuesday night. Interim CEO Rhodes told Newberg he will talk to reporters on Wednesday, after the vote.
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