The parent corporation of Lake Shore Health Care Center in Irving and Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk has laid off at least 40 employees over the past two days to lower costs and eliminate overlapping services, The Buffalo News has learned.
Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York laid off about 40 employees at Lake Shore Health Care across a variety of departments, with workers learning their fates late Tuesday and Wednesday, according to a current hospital employee and an employee who was laid off, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity.
Lake Erie officials declined to comment on the number of workers affected. The company released a statement confirming a “change in workforce.”
“After a thorough evaluation of services and care provided throughout LERHSNY, the board has identified areas of duplication and opportunities for improved operational efficiency. As such, necessary consolidations will be made and will result in several systemwide changes, including the establishment of staffing levels that match patient volume,” the company said in the statement Wednesday.
The staff cuts in the Lake Erie network follow the January announcement that the nearby Petri Baking Products factory in Silver Creek would close, leaving 231 employees out of work. Silver Creek Mayor Nick Piccolo said the health network job cuts caught him by surprise.
“This will affect other businesses in our area,” he said in an interview. “And I know we have had some interest lately from businesses interested in relocating.”
Lake Erie Regional Health System was formed in 2008 at the urging of New York State’s Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, also known as the Berger Commission, which sought to encourage collaboration among health care facilities.
Lake Erie serves as the parent organization for TLC Health Network – which includes Lake Shore and the Gowanda Urgent Care & Medical Center, as well as a handful of smaller facilities – and Brooks Memorial.
TLC Health had 661 employees as of the end of last year, while Brooks had 446 employees, according to Scott Butler, Lake Erie’s vice president of communications, who declined to comment further.
Local 1199, Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers East, represents 45 certified nursing assistants and therapy aides at Lake Shore and 230 employees at Brooks Memorial.
Union officials have learned of 11 union layoffs at Lake Shore and a still-to-be-determined number at Brooks, said Franchelle C. Hart, the local’s communications coordinator in Buffalo.
“We have a meeting with management tomorrow and will work with them to ensure that as many union jobs as possible are protected,” Todd Hobler, a Local 1199 vice president who represents employees at Lake Shore’s long-term care facility, said in a statement Wednesday.
One employee who is losing her job told The News she learned her fate through a phone call instead of a face-to-face meeting.
Chautauqua County Legislator George Borrello, R-Hanover, whose district includes Lake Shore Health Care Center, said he was aware of problems on the long-term care side of the facility.
However, he added, “I just went to the rededication of their emergency room facilities a few weeks ago, and it seemed to me that they were doing things to attract more patients.”
The Lake Erie statement said the two hospitals have continued to operate independently since 2008 and that the efficiencies expected following the formation of the parent organization have not materialized.
“At the same time, hospital reimbursements have declined, and the cost of providing care to our patients has increased. As a result, the financial positions of both institutions have suffered,” the statement said.