The Ritz Herald
New York State Capitol, Albany, NY. © Matt H. Wade

New York State Releases Funds for New Modern Brooks Memorial Hospital

Joint statement from 1199SEIU & NYSNA regarding the long-awaited release of $75 million in state funds to construct a new modern Brooks Memorial Hospital in Northern Chautauqua County

Published on June 03, 2024

Union members working at the outdated Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk continued to provide the best care under challenging conditions. Today, following a 7-year-long wait, New York State has finally released the necessary funds to build a new modern Brooks Memorial Hospital to serve the residents of Northern Chautauqua County.

The governor’s announcement today provides renewed hope of keeping access to quality care locally. Thanks to Governor Kathy Hochul, thousands of residents will have a new modern facility to receive healthcare in their community for many years to come.

“It’s a huge win for the residents of Northern Chautauqua County to maintain access to healthcare close to home,” said Tara Walrod, a Radiologic Technologist and 1199SEIU member at Brooks.

The Build Brooks Now campaign to push for the release of funding was a grassroots community effort. There are many people to thank, including New York State Senator George Borrello, New York State Assemblyman Andy Goodell, Chautauqua County Legislators, Dunkirk Mayor Kate Wdowiasz, Fredonia Mayor Michael Ferguson, Dunkirk Central Labor Council, WNY Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, Chautauqua County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Council, The Seneca Nation, and Susan Parker.

“The community has waited seven long years to hear the news that funds would be released to build a new state-of-the-art facility,” said Cheryl Marino, 1199SEIU Organizer. “It has been a long journey.

Hospital workers came together to lobby elected officials, organize rallies, and hold face-to-face conversations with residents in this community to ensure that this day would happen. The future of this community is bright with the state’s release of $75 million dollars in funding desperately needed to build the new Brooks Memorial Hospital. This rural community will benefit from continued quality care and a dedicated healthcare workforce. We have preserved union jobs and maintained local access to essential health care services,” said Marino.

“The release of funds to build a new Brooks not only ensures a building that will stand for many years to come but ensures high-quality care for the communities in Chautauqua county – care that all of the healthcare professionals at Brooks have been trained to provide,” said Heather Luce, RN, a nurse and NYSNA member at Brooks. “Rural healthcare should not be valued less than healthcare anywhere else, and this funding ensures that the people and families that our state relies on for agriculture and industry can live here, thrive here, and have access to quality healthcare here,” said Luce.

In October of last year, hospital workers organized a huge public rally at the hospital’s entrance, and in March, the community came together for a forum to urge the New York State Department of Health to disperse funding.

On background:

The new facility’s plans would cost approximately $71 million. Brooks-TLC was awarded a $57 million grant from the Essential Healthcare Provider Support Program (EHCPSP) to build a new modern hospital and to convert TLC Lakeshore into an Ambulatory Destination Center specializing in chemical dependency. In addition, the 2017 New York state budget also included a $17 million Healthcare Facility Transformation grant to help build a modern hospital.

Health and Wellness Reporter