Gabryszak Fights to Keep St. Joseph Hospital Open
Introduces legislation to remove the hospital from The Berger Commission list
March 1, 2007

Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak (D-Cheektowaga) introduced legislation to prevent the closure of St. Joseph Hospital by exempting it from the recommendations of the Berger Commission (A.5382). Senator Dale Volker (R-Depew) introduced a companion bill in the Senate (S.2942).

“We are very grateful to Assemblyman Gabryszak and Senator Volker for their efforts on behalf of St. Joseph Hospital,” said Joseph McDonald, President and CEO of the Catholic Health System. “Their reaction to the Berger Commission recommendations and subsequent legislation is exactly how our patients, associates, physicians and community feel – St. Joseph Hospital should never have been included on the closing list in the first place.”

“We think the introduction of this legislation a step in the right direction and gives our state leaders the opportunity to debate this issue and see that St. Joseph Hospital is worth preserving,” said James Millard, President of St. Joseph Hospital. “We applaud these efforts and will work with our local legislative delegation to see that our voice is heard in Albany.”

Assemblyman Gabryszak said, “St. Joseph is financially stable, having four straight years of profitability. This is not a hospital in dire straits, but a growing facility that just added a state of the art emergency department. Closing this hospital just doesn’t make sense.”

The loss of St. Joseph Hospital would have significant impact on the Western New York economy. The hospital employs more than 800 people and has an annual payroll of $30 million. Its annual economic impact on the community has been estimated at $124 million.

“If the hospital closes, there will be hundreds of unemployed workers in Erie County. This could devastate a region that is already struggling to create and retain jobs,” Gabryszak said.

Furthermore, the hospital serves an extremely vulnerable population – the elderly. Almost 70% of the facility’s patients are on Medicare. Shifting the hospital’s elderly patients to other facilities would cost more than $7 million, due to higher payments at more expensive academic and teaching hospitals.

“We need to ensure that the growing senior population surrounding the hospital has continued access to these vital services close to home,” Gabryszak said.

The Berger Commission ignored the growing population in the eastern suburbs of Erie County. For example, Lancaster’s population has grown 4.4% since the U.S. Census in 2000. This is a remarkable growth given the region’s overall decline.

Assemblyman Gabryszak said, “Closing St. Joseph Hospital would be devastating for Cheektowaga and Lancaster because we’re a growing community with a vulnerable population. The hospital is financially stable and plays an important role in the local economy. I will continue to fight against the ill-advised recommendations of the Berger Commission.”

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