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Community members hear plans for Strong West
More than 100 people packed the LGI classroom at Oliver Middle School in Brockport Tuesday, April 22 as Strong West held a community forum to discuss the future of UR Medicine’s Strong West and to field questions from residents.
Strong officials announced that the freestanding Emergency Department planned for Strong West has received conditional approval from the NY State Department of Health and they expect it to be open in mid-July along with the new Ambulatory Surgical Center.
Mike Kamali, MD, Strong emergency medicine chair, said Strong “is working diligently to get (the ED) up and running.”
“We will have bumps in the road,” Kamali said, “but we know emergency medicine. We want to be a part of this community, it’s very important to get this right. The NY Department of Health has been very careful. I think that’s the right thing to do.”
“We are very comfortable with discussions with the state,” Strong Memorial Hospital chief operating officer Kathy Parrinello said. “The State Department of Health has been very helpful.”
The ED at Strong West will have ten beds and a doctor on staff 24/7, Dr. Kamali said. Two nurses, including an LPN, will be on duty at all times and during busy times such as evenings, an additional nurse will be on duty. “It is our intent to always have a bed available,” Dr. Kamali said.
Peter Robinson, UR Medical Center vice president and chief operating officer, thanked the community and its leaders for their support in the work of developing the Strong West facility at the former Lakeside Hospital in Brockport.
“The closing of Lakeside was a traumatic event,” Robinson noted. He said Strong has been able to move forward with its plans “because of the support of the community.”
Ironically, it was exactly one year ago to the day (April 22, 2013) that former Lakeside Hospital officials held a neighborhood meeting to announce closure plans for Lakeside. The hospital closed its doors later that week on April 26, 2013.
The mood this year is much different than just one year ago. At the April 22 Strong West forum, Brockport Mayor Margaret Blackman said, “It was one of the happiest days in the lives of residents when it was announced Strong had taken over Lakeside.”
Strong Memorial chief operating officer Kathy Parrinello said a number of former Lakeside staff members who live in Brockport are now working at Strong West. “We are anxious to hire folks who live in the Brockport/Sweden area,” she said.
Officials noted there is now a staff of 62 “very highly skilled professionals” working at Strong West.
Parrinello also provided figures on the number of people cared for at Strong West over the past six months:
•Over 12,000 patients treated in urgent care
•6,500 patients received imaging services
•4,200 people came to Strong West for lab tests
•1,500 people received Orthopaedic care.
Following their presentations, officials answered questions from the audience. One person asked about the possibility of in-patient beds. Strong officials said that would require an entirely new state approval and that the state currently feels our region has sufficient hospital beds.
A Village of Holley resident said she had a medical emergency in mid-March during the blizzard and that it took 45 minutes for her and her husband to get to the hospital.
“I don’t want to go to Strong,” she said. “I want a hospital right here.”
Strong Memorial COO Parrinello said it isn’t financially possible to keep a hospital open in Brockport but that “robust outpatient care often can meet that need.”
Another member of the audience asked about outpatient mental health care.
Parrinello responded that Strong is aware of the need for behavioral health services and has begun to provide some of those services at Oak Orchard Health.
She said Strong would be, “… eager to plan for that,” at Strong West.
Others asked about which ambulance service Strong West would use for transports from the future freestanding ED.
Dr. Kamali said Strong has a relationship now with Rural Metro and Monroe Ambulance, but that Strong West has a “great relationship with Brockport Ambulance. It serves a vital, vital need in the community. We have been talking to them regularly.”
Peter Robinson noted that using Brockport Ambulance for transports might not be in the best interest of the Brockport community because it would take an ambulance out of service during the time of the transport.
He concluded the meeting by saying that, “… we will have a few parties,” in the near future to celebrate the openings of the ASC and freestanding ED at Strong West.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the community,” he said. “We are delighted to be here. We are delighted to be a part of Brockport.”
Later that evening, members of the Sweden Town Board during their regular meeting, commented on the Strong West community forum.
“It was a great turnout,” Supervisor Rob Carges said. “Peoples’ questions got answered.”
“They had all the right answers I wanted to hear,” Council Member Bob Muesebeck said and Council Member Don Roberts called the figures presented by COO Parrinello regarding the number of people cared for at Strong West over the past six months, “… astonishing in a small community.”