DUNKIRK, N.Y. (WKBW) — It’s been almost seven years since Brooks Memorial Hospital was awarded money from New York State for a new campus, and healthcare workers are calling on the state to take action.

The state promised funds for a new $71 million micro-hospital in Fredonia — but has yet to release the money.

Healthcare workers are hosting a community rally on Thursday in front of the hospital, hoping to inspire movement in this project from the state.

“We’re willing to go and do whatever we need to do to push this as far as we need to push it,” Cheryl Marino, an administrative organizer with United Healthcare Workers East, said. “There is just no reason and no excuse, quite frankly, why these funds have not been released when they were already promised, and the grants were already there.”

Al Palmatier, a registered nurse at Books Memorial, said the current hospital is in need of a lot of work.

“There’s a lot of issues that the public might not know about this building,” Palmatier said. “It’s kind of outdated. There’s a lot of asbestos that needs to be remediated. You can’t fix some of the problems that we have in this hospital. We need a new facility.”

Along with a new-and-improved physical building, many said a new hospital could bring fresh healthcare opportunities to residents of northern Chautauqua County.

“Our hope is that not only are we able to serve the community locally through added technology improvements … but also attract new providers, new professionals who want to be a part of this facility as well,” Ken Morris, President and CEO of Brooks Memorial, said. “We’re going to see more providers that want to be in the area and be a part of this. I see more connection with some of the Buffalo specialists too.”

Palmatier, who has been working at the hospital for 23 years, agrees that a new facility will help bring new professionals.

“It would attract younger doctors. We would be able to offer more services, different types of surgeries. We’re limited in what we can do right now,” Palmatier said.

A major issue with the hospital workers and leaders brought up was its lack of proximity to other hospitals.

“By not having a state-of-the-art facility, or offering services you may need, such as maternity, you are having to then go much father,” Marino said.

In other words, if the current Brooks Hospital is unable to provide for a patient due to lack of equipment or service — patients are transferred to a different hospital in Buffalo, Jamestown, or Erie — all of which are around 45 minutes away.

“It’s 45 minutes to an hour lost of your time,” Palmatier said. “You don’t have that kind of time when you’re having a stroke.”

7 News reached out to New York State, asking if they had an update about the release of funds.

A spokesperson for Governor Kathy Hochul said:

” … The Department of Health continues to work closely with local stakeholders, Brooks Memorial Hospital leadership and other healthcare providers in Chautauqua County.”

The community rally will be this Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. outside of the hospital.


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