What does the closing of the emergency department at Lakeside mean for you?

Posted at: 02/14/2013 11:55 PM
Updated at: 02/14/2013 11:57 PM
By: Lynette Adams

What does the closing of the emergency department at Lakeside Hospital mean for the surrounding community and students at the College at Brockport if they have an emergency?

News10NBC has heard fear and concern from people who have relied on Lakeside Hospital, but also from the emergency responders. They worry that as well staffed and proficient as they can operate, there's no controlling things like distance, weather, and traffic. And the greatest fear is that patients will suffer.

Lucas Vandervort, Brockport Volunteer Ambulance, said, "It's going to be a big challenge for us. We use Lakeside for about 70 to 75 percent of our transport."

Lucas Vandervort is not looking forward to how that is going to change come spring. Vandervort is the chief of the Brockport Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Right now, an ambulance ride to Lakeside is easily five minutes or less. When Lakeside closes its emergency department, that commute is going to be a lot longer. It's almost 25 miles to Medina Memorial Hospital. It's almost 21 miles to Strong and 14.6 miles to the closest emergency department at Unity Hospital in Greece.

"It's just going to be more difficult for us," says Vandervort. "I think it's going to mean some staffing changes, some operational changes. That's because it may take triple the amount of time to transport patients and get back in service."

Vandervort says he is most concerned about the people he serves.

"It may have impact on patient care as well," says Vandervort. "Seeing as it's going to take 30 minutes, or 40 minutes to get patients to city hospitals."

Hospital spokesperson Natalie Ciao says Unity is prepared for whatever the changes at Lakeside could mean.

"I think we will see more patients to our emergency department," explains Ciao. "We are ready and willing to handle that. If we see our volume start to rise and increase, we will probably obviously make some changes and maybe at that point bring on additional staff and resources."

Ciao says, right now, there are no plans to make any changes at the hospital.

News10NBC spoke to some Brockport residents Thursday evening to see what they thought about the closing of Lakeside. Many say they are very concerned. Amy Stucko's daughter is a first year student at the College at Brockport and basketball player. She never thought the local hospital would close it's emergency department and worries what might happen if her daughter needs help.

Stucko says, "It's the only one in the area and the drive to Rochester is so much further, so it is a worry."

College at Brockport students say they are also concerned.

Freshman Marissa Pangrazio says, "I actually work for campus police on student patrol and we often hear calls about alcohol related issues. There are ambulances on campus at least two or three times a month dealing with issues with students with whatever it may be. It could cause issues because who knows what college students could be getting into."

News10NBC wanted to know if the further travel distances would cost you more. We're told that travel cost are the smallest part of the ambulance bill. The fee is about $15 per mile and you can estimate the increased cost.