Rural residents lose life saving resource after Lake Shore Hospital in Irving shuts down

Chautauqua County

IRVING N.Y. (WIVB) – Lakeshore Healthcare Center as closed its doors for good, forcing some southern tier patients to travel 20 minutes to get to the closest hospital. Several people in Chautauqua County say this will put residents at risk.

“For a lot of our medical patients, when you’re in an emergency situation you don’t have time to waste and that extra 20 minutes mean everything it can literally be the difference between life or death,” former employee Aubrey Cunningham.

Cunningham has worked at Lake Shore Hospital for the last five years. In that time she’s watched the hospital slowly shut down each of its departments, from its medical surgeon unit to its nursing homes. She says the staff was told in December that the emergency room and behavioral health department would shut down next. These are services she says, this community relies on.

“Chautauqua County has doubled the suicide rate in New York state on top of that we have higher rates of substance abuse more senior citizens and low income residents I mean we need these services here,” Cunningham said.

The closest emergency room to the Irving campus, is Brooks Memorial Hospital and that’s a 20 to 25 minute drive.

“I don’t know how you’re going to make it on a heart attack, now I worked here during the blizzard of 77 and nothing moved,” said Louis Pelletter the Town of Hanover Deputy Supervisor. “You were able to get here and it would take you quite a while and during a major snow storm I don’t know what you’re going to do if you have a major heart attack.”

According to a spokesperson from Brooks TLC Hospital System, the closure is because there’s not enough staff to run the hospital.

Cunningham says she’s disappointed hospital officials did not do more to prevent this from happening.

“There’s a lot of disappointment knowing that both our community and our employees are suffering,” she said. “Knowing that not a whole lot was done to make sure that we had options.”

The closure affects nearly 200 full-time and part-time employees.

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