Lakeside will keep ER, cut hospital beds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 March 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Lakeside Health System officials met with about 40 people on March 5 in Albion, detailing the Brockport hospital’s recent financial losses, which are forcing a reduction in 56 inpatient hospital beds. Lakeside is working with the state to keep the emergency room open.

ALBION – Lakeside Memorial Hospital in Brockport, a popular choice for many Orleans County residents for health care, has reversed its intention to close its emergency room after hearing many concerns from the community and the state Department of Health.

Lakeside announced in mid-February it planned to close the ER and all 61 inpatient hospital beds. In a revised plan to the state DOH, Lakeside will keep the ER and five of the 61 hospital beds. Lakeside would like to have the changes in place by May 1, interim CEO Jim Cummings told about 40 people during a March 5 meeting at Hoag Library in Albion.

“We’re happy to put out this new and improved message,” Cummings told the crowd at Albion. “We credit the communities for voicing their concerns.”

Lakeside has suffered steep losses in recent years, mainly due to a decrease in inpatient care, Cummings said. About five years ago, Lakeside averaged 35 inpatient beds a day, compared to the current 22. Losses at the hospital are threatening the viability of the entire Lakeside system, which includes diagnostic services, and the 120-bed Beikirch Care Center nursing home.

Cummings said he expects to see more small hospitals reduce inpatient beds and possibly close their ERs. Lakeside and Medina both recently closed their birthing wings to cut costs.

Lakeside Health System Jim Cummings and Leon Gossin

Photo by Tom Rivers – Lakeside Health System Interim CEO Jim Cummings, left, and Leon Gossin, senior director of finance, discuss a plan to cut inpatient hospital beds at the Brockport hospital during a March 5 meeting at Hoag Library in Albion.

“The community hospitals are all losing a great deal of money,” Cummings said. “The state doesn’t have enough money to prop up all of these hospitals.”

The restructured Lakeside will be stronger financially, and should ensure the organization will continue for years to come, he said.

But it will be a different Lakeside. Cummings said he expects patients will still be able to access many services as the hospital shifts to an outpatient diagnostic and treatment center.

“There is a crisis in this country in the cost of healthcare and this outpatient model that is developing is less expensive,” Cummings said.

The move to keep the ER will save many Orleans ambulances from longer trips into the city, occupying those rigs for two to three hours.

Several of the residents at the Albion meeting, including Ron Ebbs and Cheryl Mowatt, told Cummings their families were treated well by Lakeside. They praised the care at the hospital.

Cummings said he regrets the changes at the hospital will result in job cuts of many dedicated employees.

“We have a staff that is second to none,” he said.