LOCKPORT — Mayor Michelle Roman has asked agents of Catholic Health to agree to either staff Eastern Niagara Hospital after June 17, or work with her to secure a waiver from the state health department allowing ENH’s urgent care facility to take patients brought in by ambulance.

Roman and Jonathan Schultz, director of emergency services for Niagara County, met with ENH representatives on Monday, and found no workarounds for the hospital’s planned June 17 closure and the consequent loss of an emergency room for eastern Niagara County.

“We care about our community and we’re trying to intercede or facilitate a solution,” Roman said Tuesday.

ENH’s successor, Catholic Health’s Lockport Memorial Hospital, a campus of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, remains under construction and is not expected to open until mid September.

ENH is closing due to a lack of operating funds, according to community relations director Patricia Brandt. In January, the hospital, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, got an $8.9 million grant from the state health department to fund operations until June 17.

ENH and Catholic Health entered a limited management agreement in 2020 that has the larger health system assisting ENH in areas such as information technology, human resources and purchasing, according to Catholic Health spokesperson Joanne Cavanaugh. The management agreement was struck at the same time Catholic Health announced its plan to build and run the new Lockport Memorial Hospital. At the time, Catholic Health executives said, the closing of ENH and the opening of the new hospital — in early 2023 — would be in concert.

Since then, the new hospital’s opening date was pushed back a few times, first to the spring of 2023, and then the summer / late summer of 2023. Cavanaugh declined to say exactly why that is.

In its March 17 announcement of its closing date, ENH issued a release advising that after June 17, until the new Lockport hospital is open, eastern Niagara County residents needing emergency medical care should call 9-1-1 or go to one of the next-closest hospitals in Lewiston, Medina, Amherst, North Tonawanda, Niagara Falls or Kenmore.

ENH Express Care and the hospital’s Ambulatory Surgery Center, on South Transit Road, were purchased by Catholic Health and will remain open.

C.J. Urlaub, president of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and Catholic Health’s senior vice president of strategic partnerships, integration and care delivery in Niagara County, is scheduled to address the Newfane town board tonight, during its monthly business meeting. A Facebook post by the Town of Newfane indicates that Urlaub and Carolyn Moore, Mount St. Mary’s public relations director, will “provide an overview of the new hospital” in Lockport, and “All are welcome to attend.” The board meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the town hall on Main Street.

Meanwhile, Marc Shurtz, CEO of Orleans Community Health, told the Union-Sun & Journal that, after June 17, Medina Memorial Hospital stands ready to take in patients that would have been treated at ENH.

Shurtz, who resides in Lockport, said Medina Memorial is the next-closest hospital for eastern Niagara residents, and its staff will “do everything we can to make sure we’re continuing to provide the best possible care.”

US&J correspondent Virginia Kropf contributed to this report.

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