The Definitive Blog

2013-06-26 – URMC To Acquire Lakeside Hospital

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“This is the most surreal thing I’ve ever been involved in. To walk through a hospital that was bustling and happening and is now empty,” said Leon Gossin.

It’s been this way for nearly months. Since April 26. That’s the day Lakeside Hospital closed its doors.

“We had patients right up until six o’clock that evening,” Gossin said.

Finance director Leon Gossin was here that day, and back again on this day.

“I am pleased to announce that we are entering into an agreement,” said Nancy Plews, board chair of Lakeside Health System.

Plews led a board of directors which, faced with $25 million in debt, voted to shut the hospital down.

“It’s just been so heartbreaking for all of the community,” Plews said.

Tuesday, she announced a deal whereby the University of Rochester Medical Center will purchase, and reopen parts of the hospital.

“Obviously they’ve put a lot of thought into what they want to put out here, so I’m very grateful they’re able to move so quickly,” said Plews.

When it opens, the hospital will be known as “Strong West.”

“We were here when the hospital just had one little section in the front there,” said Don Cuthbert.

For 23 years, Cuthbert volunteered here. He heard the news this morning.

“Lakeside has been here so long, it’s just a nice place. Everybody made us feel comfortable here.”

The plan is to open an urgent care center first, and later, re-open an emergency department that still has the names listed of those who worked the final shift.

URMC officials say the closing and reopening both represent a sign of the times.

“I think throughout NYS you’re going to see smaller rural hospitals undergo these transitions,” said URMC CEO Brad Berk.

When the announcement was made there was hope, if not confidence, that this hospital would reopen in some form. Consider the words of a former employee, written inside on the hospital’s last day:

“Never got around to cleaning it,” Gossin said.

Soon, empty spaces will be full again. Thirty people will be hired to work in the urgent care center; a total of 90 when the state gives expected approval to re-open the E.D.

“We’re heading towards reopening which is a wonderful thing for the community and the patients so we’re all very happy.”

And happy to lose that surreal feeling of a place which helped so many, abandoned.

“To see it with people again, doing what it’s supposed to be doing, will be wonderful,” said Gossin.

July 9, 2013