Senator Volker Statement On Hospital Closings

Dale M. Volker

November 28, 2006

(Depew, NY) I would like to first thank the members of the Hospital Closure Commission for their significant insight, energies and recommendations for improving our state’s health care system. We must remember that today’s announcement is strictly a recommendation by the commission and that the State Legislature, working with the Governor, will have the final say as to the eventual outcome.

As with any state commission recommendation, I will seriously review and analyze their views and proposals. I firmly believe that we all want what is best for our health care system to ensure its viability and continue in providing essential medical services that our residents depend on. Our priority must continue to be the accessibility and affordability of health care services, while maintaining cutting edge and innovative medical research to address the myriad diseases affecting our residents.

Although, the Health Closure Commission has recommended St. Joseph’s and Millard Fillmore Gates for closure, I have concerns with their recommendations. For one, these two facilities have been cornerstones of their respective communities and provide lifesaving medical services to thousands of our citizens. Additionally, from an economic perspective, they are some of the largest employers in the region and have a tremendous economic ripple effect that infuses millions of dollars into our regional economy. We must be cognizant of the negative financial impact these closures could cause to our region’s economy.

Additionally, these two facilities have not stood still waiting for the Commission’s report. For example, over the past several years the Catholic Health Care System have taken proactive actions and has reduced the number of beds within its system and instituted cost-containment measures to remain viable and ensure that its mission to provide medical services remain seamless, affordable and accessible. The Catholic Health Care System should be commended by the State of New York--not penalized for doing the responsible actions necessary to remain a premier health care system.

The recommendation from the Hospital Closure Committee is just that--a recommendation. We must look closely and act responsibly on these recommendations.