Brooks-TLC Is ‘Biggest Issue’ In County, Green Says

Norman Green speaks on the importance of Brooks-TLC Hospital’s future in the north county on Wednesday. P-J photo by Gregory Bacon

MAYVILLE — Calling it a countywide issue, Chautauqua County officials are going on the record, urging the state to help fund a new Brooks-TLC Hospital System in the northern end of the county.

At Wednesday’s county Legislature meeting, lawmakers approved a motion urging New York state approval for a new Brooks-TLC facility in Fredonia.

During public comment, Norman Green of Dewittville urged lawmakers to pass the motion. “Brooks Hospital is the biggest issue in Chautauqua County,” he said.

Green was formerly the chairman of the Chautauqua County Democratic Party and ran for county executive. This was his first appearance at the legislature meeting since running for office. “We spend millions of dollars on economic development. We need Brooks Hospital,” he said.

Green also called on the elected officials in the room to consider doing more. “According to the media, a plan has not been brought forward to make it so that it can operate in the future without hemorrhaging millions of dollars. There’s nobody else that can assist in this thing. It’s not a Dunkirk-Fredonia problem. It’s not a Brocton problem. It’s not a Silver Creek problem. It goes way beyond those borders. Only the county of Chautauqua can be the ones to assist,” he said.

Green acknowledged County Executive PJ Wendel has been involved but he wants to see others involved as well. “We need to redouble our efforts and we need to give consideration to … a financial aspect,” he said.

Green admitted that local officials will cringe at the idea of supporting Brooks-TLC Hospital financially, but said it’s something that should be explored. “If we lose the hospital, if we don’t figure out how to help them, how to stop hemorrhaging millions of dollars after the new hospital is built, the state has made it clear, they’re not going to release the money,” he said.

Back in 2016, the state budget included an allocation of a $57 million Essential Health Care Provider Support grant for a new medical complex for Brooks Hospital. The 2017 state budget included another $17 million statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program grant.

Wendel, Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas, state Sen. George Borrello and Assemblyman Andy Goodell previously put together a task force consisting of local health-care experts, which looked at the financial data and unanimously recommended proceeding with the proposed new hospital building and adjoining medical office complex.

During Wednesday night’s discussion among lawmakers, many vocalized their support for the hospital. “I think it’s very important, not only for the future of Dunkirk-Fredonia and Northern Chautauqua County, but for the whole county,” said Legislator Kevin Muldowney, R-Dunkirk. “It’s an economic development motivator. If we do want to recruit and continue to recruit business into Chautauqua County, we have to have a viable, state-of-the-art hospital.”

Muldowney also said he agrees with Green, that this is not just a concern for Dunkirk or Fredonia. “This is a regional issue. We’ve got to stop thinking parochial and really start thinking regional,” he said.

Legislator Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan, agreed. “Brooks Hospital really is essential to the health of northern Chautauqua County,” he said.

Legislator Elisabeth Rankin, R-Jamestown, continued to call on state officials to fund the hospital. “It’s important. it’s a job creator. Everybody needs a place to go when you’re sick so we would like to, as a body, ask the governor to release the funds,” she said.

The motion was passed unanimously. Motions do not carry any legal authority but are designed to show the position of a governing body. A copy of the motion will be sent to Borrello, Goodell and Gov. Kathy Hochul.


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