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Lakeside Hospital farewell draws 100 to Crooked Door

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 April 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBION Michelle Toenniessen said she needed closure. On Friday, she worked her last shift as a nurse at Lakeside Memorial Hospital in Brockport, which is closing after six decades and laying off 200 employees.

She and Dawn Amico, another nurse at Lakeside, put a notice on Facebook they would be at the Crooked Door Tavern in Albion on Friday evening to reflect on Lakeside’s closing. Toenniessen thought maybe a dozen of her co-workers would show up.

About 100 Lakeside employees came with heavy hearts, including CEO Jim Cummings.

“It was very cathartic – We all needed it,” Toenniessen said. “It’s been very sad for the employees and community. Everybody tried so hard to keep it open.”

Toenniessen of Albion worked at Lakeside for 24 years. She loved her job.

“There’s a different atmosphere in a small community hospital,” she said. “I knew all of my co-workers by name and I knew most of my patients and their families. We had the opportunity to get very involved with our patients and to know them.”

Toenniessen and her co-workers were hopeful the hospital would stay open in a reduced form. Lakeside officials had sought permission from the state Department of Health to keep open the emergency room and five in-patient beds, which would have been a drop from 61 beds.

The organization also sought a $5 million life-line from the state, but the money was denied. On Monday, Lakeside officials announced the hospital would close on Friday.

“It was a big shock,” Toenniessen said.

Lakeside is the second small-town hospital she has worked at and watched close. She spent her first three years as a nurse at Arnold Gregory Memorial Hospital in Albion.

Toenniessen has accepted a job at Beikirch Care Center nursing home, which is owned by Lakeside. The organization will decide soon whether it seek a buyer for that facility and an urgent care center in Spencerport. Toenniessen will work as a nurse on the rehab floor at Beikirch.

“It’s a big change, but I have a job and I’m thankful for that,” she said.