Mercy Hospital to divert ambulances, suspend labor & delivery services, inpatient elective surgeries effective Wednesday

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Negotiations continue between Catholic Health and CWA Local 1133, and as the day gets closer for the union to potentially strike, some changes are set to take place at Mercy Hospital.

MORE | Catholic Health and CWA still at odds over contract negotiations

Effective Wednesday, Catholic Health will take the following actions:

  • Divert ambulances from Mercy Hospital and the Mercy Ambulatory Care Center (MACC)
  • Suspend inpatient elective surgeries at Mercy Hospital
  • Suspend labor and delivery services

This means EMS providers cannot bring patients via ambulance unless the patients are unstable and Mercy Hospital is the closest appropriate facility. Also, EMS officials have the option bring them there if the patient specifically requests to be taken there.

Catholic Health says that despite this, Mercy Hospital’s Emergency Department and the MACC will not be closed to walk-in patients.

According to Catholic Health, the healthcare organization and CWA are “tens of millions of dollars apart,” in the ongoing contract negotiations.

CWA workers at Mercy Hospital have voted to strike if a new deal is not reached. Their current contract expires on Thursday, September 30.

Union leaders tell News 4 a strike is their last resort, but they feel like they’re at “rock bottom.”

“We have been talking to Catholic Health about this literally for months and months,” said CWA Upstate NY Area Director Debbie Hayes. “It’s only because they have been unwilling to listen to our members’ voices and to the concerns we’ve raised on behalf of our members that we’re in this situation.”

MORE | CWA workers at Mercy Hospital vote to authorize strike

Kaleida Health CEO Bob Nesselbush responded to the situation at Mercy Hospital.

“We are hopeful that the impact on operations for area hospitals amid Catholic Health’s labor dispute is minimal,” Nesselbush said. “That said, it is important to point out that we intend to remain open and provide access to services across our organization. We are adding resources, recruiting additional personnel, and going through considerable scenario planning to address this. We are doing our very best to be there for the community.”

Kaleida is suggesting that people consult with their primary care provider for official medical direction, and utilize urgent care facilities and telehealth services.

Erie County Medical Center is bracing for longer Emergency Department wait times as Mercy Hospital reduces its services. ECMC is asking those with minor ailments to first consult with their primary care provider or visit an urgent care center — then consider ECMC’s telemedicine services in an effort to reduce in-person wait times and stress on bed availability.

ECMC asks those with allergies, bronchitis, suspected COVID-19, cold and flu, cough, fever, sore throat, sinus infection, eye infection/irritation, rash, hives, upset stomach, heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting to use their telemedicine services by clicking here.

Those experiencing critical medical issues like chest pain, stroke symptoms, abdominal pain, injuries, among others are recommended to come in person to ECMC’s Emergency Department.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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