Following the approval of by the New York State Department of Health through the Certificate of Need Process, and filings with the New York State Attorney General and the New York Secretary of State, the formal merger of Brooks Memorial Hospital, Dunkirk, and TLC Health Network, Irving, NY, has been finalized. The new merged organization will be known as Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Inc.
“We are pleased to report that the merger of Brooks Memorial Hospital and TLC Health Network is complete,” said Christopher Lanski, Board Chair of Brooks Memorial Hospital. Lanski will serve as Board Chair of the new organization. “The merger is another step in our transition to preserve and enhance access to quality healthcare service for Southern Erie and Chautauqua counties.”
James Wild, MD, Board Chair of TLC Health Network said, “As volunteer board members, our primary obligation is to ensure that the community has access to health care services. We have supported the merger and the creation of the Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Inc., in order to protect our mission of care to the region and the patients we have pledged to serve.”
Brooks Memorial Hospital and TLC Health Network have been operating under a management agreement with Kaleida Health, Buffalo, to oversee operations under a unified single board of directors and a unified leadership and management team.
“The recent emergence of TLC from bankruptcy was a critical event in clearing the way for Brooks Memorial Hospital and TLC Health Network to take the next step — the merger of the two hospitals,” said Mary LaRowe, President and CEO of Brooks Memorial Hospital and TLC Health Network.
LaRowe will serve as President and CEO of the Brooks-TLC Hospital System. She has been serving as president and CEO of Brooks Memorial and TLC Health Network under a management agreement between the hospitals and Kaleida Health.
The current management team at Brooks and TLC will join LaRowe in leading the new organization including: Jodi Witherell, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) and Vice President of Quality; Wendy L. Luce, Vice President of Behavioral Health and Chemical Dependency Services: and Jeff Morgan, Vice President of Finance. The search for a new Vice President for Operations will soon be finalized.
“With the merger now complete, the Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Inc. will now move forward in the process of formally affiliating with Kaleida Health,” LaRowe said.
“These are extremely challenging times for rural hospitals,” LaRowe explained. “Sadly, across the nation we are seeing more and more rural hospitals close due to inability to cope with the impact of reduced reimbursement for services. This will not be the case for Southern Erie and Chautauqua counties. We are excited about the future of healthcare in our region,.”
She explained that both the merger of Brooks Memorial Hospital and TLC Health Network and the affiliation with Kaleida Health are a response to the rapidly changing healthcare environment. “The merger will better position us for success in meeting the healthcare needs of our communities for years to come,” she said.
“It is incumbent on those entrusted with operating our hospitals that we do so smartly, utilizing resources wisely to deliver care. We are fortunate to have the support of a wonderful staff and great physician partners in achieving success in meeting our mission of service,” LaRowe said.
“Within the context of the merger, the Kaleida Health affiliation, a new hospital to replace Brooks Memorial Hospital and the future development of the TLC campus as a center of excellence for ambulatory services, we are extremely optimistic for the future of patient care in Southern Erie and Chautauqua Counties under the Brooks -TLC Hospital System.”
“As always, we thank the patients we serve and the community for their support of our efforts,”she said.
Brooks joined Chautauqua County Executive, George Borrello, and community health partners on the lawn of UPMC Chautauqua WCA in a show of support to raise awareness of colorectal cancer.
As part of March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, men and women are urged to get screened for colorectal cancer. Call 1-866-422-CANCER (2262) to see if you are eligible for low cost, no cost colorectal screenings.
Participants learn fun exercises in a supportive environment at First United Methodist Church of Fredonia, 25 Church St., Fredonia NY. Cost is only $13 for each day attended or $130 for all 10 classes. No physician referral is required.
For more information or to register, visit www.brookshospital.org/upcoming-eventsclasses or call 363-3092.
In collaboration with 1199 SEIU, NYSNA and the 1199 SEIU Training Fund, Brooks Memorial Hospital recently completed a Patient Centered Care (PCC) training initiative. The custom training program was designed to incorporate interdisciplinary teams with process improvement to ultimately enhance the patient experience.
Photo: Using interactive health care role-play scenarios, Brooks’ management team gains a deeper understanding of the changing health care environment, and its impact on staff and patient satisfaction.
Late last year, Brooks’ staff participated in a parallel training series to learn similar tools aimed at empowering all levels of the health care team to contribute to improvements and innovations.
On a typical January Monday one year ago, 53-year old Linda Nieldbalski, vice president, business development officer at M&T Bank, headed to meet a client for a morning appointment. Shortly after that meeting, Linda felt an unusual sensation penetrating into her back and jaw, along with a feeling in her chest she describes as acid reflux.
Presuming these symptoms were related to a hot flash, or possibly the flu, Linda headed back home to rest for the remainder of the day. Upon her arrival, however, Eric Niedbalski noticed his wife didn’t look well, and insisted they head to the Brooks Hospital emergency department. Eric’s resolve proved to be the decision of a lifetime, as moments after arriving at the hospital, Linda collapsed into cardiac arrest.
Michael Klein, DO, emergency department physician at Brooks Memorial Hospital, remembers that day clearly. “Linda was in bed #5 suffering a massive heart attack. Her heart quivered with ventricular fibrillation, which caused her blood pressure to plummet. I’ll be honest, it didn’t look good.”
Forty-five minutes into CPR, shocks to the heart with a defibrillator, and multiple medication administrations, Dr. Klein approached Eric with words a husband never wants to hear. Linda wasn’t expected to make it.
An unusual twist and turn of events
Those who know Linda’s moxie will not be surprised to hear that this day was far from being her last. Despite the bleak prognosis - she stabilized and joined in the conversation between her doctor and husband. Once again, however, she went into cardiac arrest.
With the heart, soul, and will of a tiger, again Linda stabilized, attempted to get out of bed, and proceeded to speak with her nurses. Then again, she went into cardiac arrest.
This cycle went on for three and a half hours and seventy-seven defibrillation shocks to the heart.
“I’ve never seen anything like it”, shares ED nurse Constance Minnich, RN. Colleague, Phoebe Long, RN concurred. In all their combined years in emergency medicine, Constance, Phoebe and teammate Sara Couchman, RN say this was definitely a first.
"Patients in cardiac arrest from ventricular fibrillation are almost without exception, unconscious. Linda would have periods where she was in ventricular fibrillation but still be awake. This was astounding for us to see”, Dr. Klein added.
Josh Newark, EMT-Paramedic with Alstar EMS, added, “I had just finished dropping off another patient by ambulance, witnessed all the activity, and figured I better stick around,” Newark said. Josh and his partner Liz Adkins - EMT, later transported Linda to Buffalo General Medical Center where dedicated heart specialists offer state-of-the-art technology for advanced cardiac surgery. The Dunkirk-Buffalo trip is one that Alstar makes regularly to facilitate coordinated care between Brooks Memorial Hospital, and specialized facilities within the Kaleida Health system.
Linda was transferred to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester where she was a candidate for a heart transplant. For two grueling weeks, Linda was on life support and later placed in a medically induced coma. Upon waking, she learned that her legs had been amputated just above the knees due to the loss of blood flow to her organs related to the heart attack. Thankfully, Linda kept her own heart and her hips, but not before two additional surgical revisions to her legs.
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Our community relations team is committed to keeping you informed about all the great news at our hospital and welcome you to join us at educational, awareness, and fundraising events in our community. For more information or for media inquiries, please contact us below or call (716) 363-3313.