Lockport leaders, community feel blindsided by announced closure of Eastern Niagara Hospital

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Eastern Niagara Hospital in the City of Lockport has been struggling for years, and come June 17 — patients will have to look elsewhere for care and employees new jobs.

City of Lockport Common Council President Paul Beakman is enraged that Eastern Niagara Hospital will shut down in late spring.

“Not only unthinkable, absolutely and outrage and shameful,” Beakman told News 4. “This is the world we live in today.”

The struggling hospital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019.

Hospital leaders said with the high number of Medicaid, Medicare and uninsured patients, Eastern Niagara couldn’t rely on insurance and patient billing to keep the lights on.

Beakman and city hall leaders say the hospital administrators haven’t told them anything.

“This really was a lifeline for the residents of the City of Lockport and all of eastern Niagara County,” Beakman said. “This is just horrible.”

Catholic Health broke ground on a new hospital in Lockport in November of 2021.

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We’re told that hospital will not be ready by June and is expected to open this Fall.

This could leave residents without access to a nearby hospital for months.

City of Lockport Mayor Michelle Roman tells us she learned of the June closure when an employee reached showed her a hospital memo.

“They had promised me that this would stay operating until the new one was operational itself, obviously that isn’t happening,” said City of Lockport Mayor Michelle Roman. “I feel that they were negligent in not contacting us and not making an exit plan for this process.”

Roman says the closure will affect all of Niagara County.

That includes those in need of a rape kit administered by a sexual assault nurse examiner.

“We will not have a single S.A.N.E. certified nurse in the County of Niagara,” added Roman. “We will have to wait for traveling nurses from Erie County.”

Eastern Niagara Hospital files for Chapter 11

Roman told News 4 she sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul urging her to help provide emergency services for Lockport after the hospital closes and before the new Catholic Health facility opens.

The mayor also said she’s meeting with hospital administration and the heads of Lockport’s emergency services on Monday.

Almost 300 employees will be laid off because of the closure.

News 4 reached out to the union that represents hospital employees and the hospital itself for comment. Both declined to go on camera to give a comment Friday.

Statement from Catholic Health:

“Catholic Health does not own or operate Eastern Niagara Hospital (ENH). We are excited construction is progressing on our new Lockport Memorial Hospital, which is expected to open this fall. Our health system will continue to provide care to residents throughout Niagara County at our other facilities as well as take over operations of ENH’s Urgent Care and Ambulatory Surgery Center on Transit Road immediately following the hospital’s closure. We have held several hiring events for staff at ENH and nearly 120 have already accepted positions within our health system, including the new Lockport Memorial l Hospital. With today’s announcement, we expect many more will join our healthcare team.”

Catholic Health

Statement from Eastern Niagara Hospital:

Eastern Niagara Hospital announces that it plans to close on June 17, 2023. Eastern
Niagara Hospital operates an Article 28 hospital located at 521 East Avenue, Lockport as well as an ambulatory center at 5875 S. Transit Road, Lockport.

The Ambulatory Center at 5875 S. Transit Road will also close on June 17 and reopen immediately under Catholic Health management. Catholic Health previously purchased the 5875 S. Transit ambulatory health care center and will provide urgent care, imaging, occupational medicine and ambulatory surgery services to the community.

Eastern Niagara intends to continue providing health care services at both locations until June 17. After ENH closes, residents in the eastern Niagara County area who require emergency medical services are encouraged to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department for care.

These hospitals include: Mount St. Mary’s Hospital (Lewiston); Medina Memorial Hospital/Orleans Community Health (Medina); Millard Fillmore Suburban (Amherst); DeGraff Medical Park Emergency Department (N. Tonawanda); Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center (Niagara Falls) or Kenmore Mercy (Kenmore). Residents also await the opening of the new hospital in Lockport. Urgent care services will continue to be available in Lockport at Urgent Care, 5875 S. Transit Road, and WellNow at 5801 S. Transit Rd. ENH Reflections Chemical Dependency Program will close on April 1, due to a staffing shortage.

Patients in need of substance use services should contact Clearview Treatment Center (716-298-2115), ECMC (716-898-3471), First Step Crisis Center (716-285-3421), GCASA (585-815-5248), or Recovery Center of Niagara (716-265-3700).

ENH patients may request copies of their medical records by visiting and completing an Authorization Release Form prior to August 1, 2023, or by calling 716-514-5800 ext. 3728.

Eastern Niagara Hospital

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Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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