Community members claim lack of health care since Sheehan closing

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The State Department of Health listened to public concerns surrounding the closing of Sheehan Health Network at a forum Thursday evening held at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The hospital closed May 31st after the board claimed it was not financially feasible to continue operations.

Casimiro Rodriguez, who lives near the former hospital, claims so much funding has been pumped into the center that it would be disappointing to keep it closed.

"There’s been large money and investment into Sheehan Memorial. A lot of it is high tech. a lot of it is reconstructed, remodeled," said Rodriguez.

Patients have had to seek care at other facilities. The Health Department says before the closing, it made sure patients had alternatives for health care. But, many at the meeting claim the surrounding area is low income with limited access to other health providers.

"I don’t have a direct doctor to prescribe my medications. Right now, I may have to go to the emergency room in order to get some of my prescriptions," said former patient Providencia Carrion.

"Ninety percent of the people in that community will rely on public transportation, so it would be a challenge for them to get across town to doctors appointments, to different clinics and things of that nature," said Buffalo resident Kenneth Pryor.

The 150 employees laid off due to the closing also say they’ve been struggling to find new employment.

"Really everywhere in the inner city is not hiring or they're already overpopulated so you’re looking to travel out to Niagara Falls or travel to Orchard Park or wherever just to get a job," said Erika Davis, former Sheehan Health Network employee.

A Buffalo based group says it attempted to take over the building but the Sheehan board rejected the proposal. The organization's officials say they will continue to push their plan but in the meantime, residents will still lack access to quality health care.

"So now no longer will there be continuity of care, but actually there'll be a break there perhaps maybe two, maybe three years, who knows depending on how quickly we can get these licenses in place," said Ralph Hernandez, Greater Buffalo United Accountable Health Care Network member.

No one from Sheehan Health was present at the meeting for comment. The Health Department recorded remarks at the meeting and will submit those to the public 60 days from the meeting.

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