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DUNKIRK – The board of directors that governed both Brooks Memorial and Lake Shore hospitals has announced a formal intention to split Lake Shore away and leave the hospitals to make independent decisions.

Board President Christopher J. Lanski and Brooks interim CEO J. Gary Rhodes made the announcement Tuesday during a news conference at Brooks. “It is a good decision for Brooks and one that we have been talking about for a while,” Lanski said. The move will not have any impact on people who work at Brooks, he said.

“What this means is we were the parent company for both hospitals and we made a decision to allow the transition for Lake Shore to be up to them,” Rhodes said, referring to the TLC Lake Shore board. He also said the decision will not make a financial impact operations at Brooks.

The decision was made at a board meeting Monday night, Lanski said. He said he intends to call Timothy J. Cooper, president of the board of directors at TLC Lake Shore in Irving and tell him that the process will formally begin to separate the two entities.

Lanski said he believes that the TLC board has been meeting weekly as it tries to find a buyer and see what the future holds for the hospital and health care facility in Irving.

The hospital has remained opened in limited capacity, with some of its long-term care and rehabilitation beds in use and some professional services available at the campus on Routes 5 and 20 in Irving.

The announcement of the news conference for Tuesday was made on short notice. Lanski and Rhodes said they wanted TLC Lake Shore officials to have time to make their own decisions about the fate of the hospital.

The two hospitals have been joined under a parent company, Lake Erie Health Care Systems, and the action to separate Lake Shore was an amendment of the bylaws for the parent company, Rhodes explained. He said the decision will give TLC Lake Shore more control to restructure.

Rhodes said leaders at Brooks have been talking about the move for several months. They are continuing to work toward future planning to promote the Dunkirk hospital, he said. “We value our employees as part of are strategic plan,” Rhodes said.

Lanski confirmed that employees are being consulted as the board members at Brooks look toward long-term goals for the hospital in Dunkirk.

Chautauqua County Executive Vincent W. Horrigan attended the news conference and confirmed that there are people working on the sale of Lake Shore Hospital.

“There are a lot of changes happening,” Horrigan said. “This move gives the TLC Lake Shore board some flexibility going forward.”

Horrigan said that he has been in touch with leaders of the TLC Lake Shore board and that he anticipates they will make announcements in the near future.