What a shocker! I had just finished drafting the following column. Then, within hours, I heard the devastating news report that "plans to replace Tri-County Hospital have been canceled."
Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York made the announcement official. Many folks in this area are deeply shocked. As a result, the content presented in the foregoing From My Perspective column may be considered by some to now be moot and irrelevant. But, to the contrary. The points made in this column are distinctly significant, uniquely cogent and poignantly relevant.
"Gateway to the Southern Tier" is a classic statement. This is an illustrative statement of fact! Indeed, much of our geographical region serves as that gateway. What magnificent area in which to live, work, be educated and enjoy. An imperative element to the area is the need for appropriate and available hospital care. And, in a health care emergency, distance is of the essence; timing is critical!
All of us recall the catastrophic flood which occurred in the Gowanda area four years ago, Aug. 9 and 10, 2009. It was a tragic event, and Tri-County Hospital (TLC Health-Gowanda Campus), along with hundreds of the residents and places of business were seriously affected. The closure, and later the demise of this hospital campus has seriously impacted a broad spectrum of the population.
We commend the Board of Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York and the administration and personnel, for moving so expeditiously in 2009 with a plan of remedial restoration. Specifically, the Gowanda Urgent Care Center has been a vital and genuinely responsive professional service for the people. Indeed, during the hours it is open, the Center provides highly efficient, most competent, and genuinely thoughtful urgent care for those in need. The geographical region is highly appreciative of that service. But we need remedial restoration furthered by constructive transformation.
People of all ages that live, work and travel through an area such as ours, expect and depend on quality health care and its availability, facilities and services. We call on federal, state, regional and local officials and those in authority to move expeditiously with the next logical phase ... that of moving from remediable restoration to constructive transformation, with the continued planning, construction and staffing of the new hospital facility on the designated Perrysburg site. And, we haven't even mentioned the positive impact it will have on the local economy. That, too, would be a vital plus.
There was an earlier generation of citizens who recognized the need and moved forward with the development and construction of the original Tri-County Hospital on Memorial Drive. By so doing, they planned for the well being of future generations of its citizens. They were wise indeed! They scrimped and saved, sacrificed and worked to bring to this area a fine health care facility.
Patients and their families came from Gowanda, Perrysburg, Collins, North Collins, Dayton, South Dayton, Cattaraugus, Cherry Creek, Leon, Otto, East Otto, Forestville, and a host of other nearby communities including of course, a sizable portion of the geographical Amish Trail community. Indeed, a dependent population of people from these areas and beyond, was then, as IS NOW, most in need of accessible, viable, hospital, health care and services.
Truly, the Gowanda region is a geographical plus. A local hospital facility is an essential necessity for this area. In a critical health emergency, timing is strategic! Let it be said that our current generation of leadership recognizes its mission as did the generations of the past. Let it be said, that our leaders of today are resilient, thoughtful , and dynamic as those of the past and provide well for the health care needs of those whom now and will in the future live, work and travel the shinning hill sides and valley of Gowanda and surrounding communities.
Based upon the strength of the local history, we are confident that the present generation and its leadership will move dynamically to meet the challenges of the present! THEY, along with all of US, must respond with constructive determination. For you see, it is the pressing needs of the people that must serve as the ultimate priority, which is that of moving from minimal restoration to comprehensive constructive transformation. As a people, we can do no less!
Dr. Robert L. Heichberger is professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Fredonia and distinguished professor at Capella University in Minneapolis, MN. All of the past columns can be viewed on www.fromourperspective.net/ Send comments to: Rheich@aol.com