The Chautauqua County Legislature is urging New York State to release funds to help get a new Brooks Memorial Hospital constructed.
The Legislature unanimously passed a motion requesting Governor Kathy Hochul release the $74 million toward the project.
Former Democratic Board of Election Commissioner and County Democratic Committee Chair Norm Green spoke at privilege of the floor, calling the project the biggest issue in Chautauqua County, “This isn’t a Dunkirk problem. It’s not a Fredonia problem. It’s not a Brocton problem. It’s not a Silver Creek problem. It goes way beyond those borders and only the County of Chautauqua can be the ones who assist. So I hope tonight, after you pass this motion, that the work won’t stop.”
Green brought up the idea that the County should even consider taking over the hospital.
Legislator Kevin Muldowney said he agreed with Green’s comments, which is a rare thing, and that it’s vital the legislature presents a united front in asking governor to release the funds issued in 2016, “It’s an economic development motivator. If we do want to recruit and continue to recruit businesses into Chautauqua County, we have to have a viable, state of the art hospital. And this is a regional issue. Stop thinking parochial and start thinking regional.”
Muldowney said access to a hospital is also important for north county residents from a safety standpoint.
County Executive PJ Wendel said in his monthly interview with WRFA that his biggest fear is that the state will release the funds for the construction of the hospital, and then the money will run out, “The model has some questions, as far as their sustainability financially. And my biggest concern is that they get the funding and the monies run out and the hospital isn’t finished. You know, prior to this large sum of money that Governor (Andrew) Cuomo first put aside from Brooks, and now Governor (Kathy) Hochul has it as well, they were supporting Brooks quite substantially, the Department of Health, with funding for two years prior to that.”
Wendel said the state required that the hospital have a sustainable financial model moving forward, which he doesn’t believe has been presented.
He said the blue ribbon task force he formed with Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas, State Senator George Borrello, Assemblyman Andy Goodell, and numerous health experts have worked with Brooks Hospital officials on moving forward with the proposed new hospital building.
Wendel added the hospital board is aware of the guidelines set by New York State and that they shoulder the responsibility in getting a completed plan to them.