Nurses, physicians call for administrative changes and greater transparency at Eastern Niagara Hospital

Nurses and physicians at Lockport, N.Y.-based Eastern Niagara Hospital are making demands to replace hospital CEO Clare Haar and much of the board of directors due to poor hospital performance, according to a report from The Buffalo News.

The workers are part of a group called Save ENH.

Sandra Harmon, a retired Buffalo, N.Y.-based Kaleida Health nurse who has taken a key role in Save ENH, said the group aims to protect the future of the hospital, according to the report. Members have been gathering petition signatures since this spring to try to get rid of the CEO.

"The committee, which consists of healthcare professionals and community members, have over 6,000 signatures who want Clare Haar removed," Ms. Harmon told The Buffalo News. She said the signers also want the board to "work in the best interest of the hospital community inclusive or surrounding rural areas or resign."

But ENH Board Chairman George V.C. Muscato told the publication that the board "has no intention of replacing Clare Haar," and that the hospital is unionized and employees need to communicate through the unions.

Specifically, the Save ENH group pointed to negative reports from the state health department as reason to remove Ms. Haar and certain board members. For example, the group highlighted the hospital's rank as 187th of 192 New York hospitals in "timely and effective care," and its 61 percent patient satisfaction rate, according to the report. They also point to the fact that federal Medicare officials have penalized ENH financially three years in a row for failing to improve readmission rates.

However, Carolyn Moore, hospital spokeswoman, counters that the 22.08 percent Medicare readmission rate, which placed Eastern Niagara in the middle of the pack in New York, is a subset of all patients. The hospital's readmission rate for all patients is only 9.55 percent, according to Ms. Moore.

Eastern Niagara exceeded all other Niagara County hospitals except Lewiston, N.Y.-based Mount St. Mary's Hospital in patient satisfaction rates, according to the report. Ms. Moore added that the hospital beat or tied the state satisfaction average in eight of 11 categories used to compile the data,.

Still, workers claim that change needs to occur for the hospital to survive in the future and that the hospital needs to be more transparent.

The sentiment was shared by Lockport Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey, who wrote a letter to Mr. Muscato in July, asking for a meeting. "I do want the board to consider improved transparency," Mayor McCaffrey wrote, according to the report. She requested a copy of the hospital board's by-laws, which have never been disclosed. The mayor said refusal to disclose information "creates distrust in the community," according to the report. She also called for more openness with employees and the public, including a community forum.

Mayor McCaffrey said she secured a meeting with Mr. Muscato and the hospital CEO, but did not receive a copy of the by-laws. According to the report, the mayor said, "I'm hopeful their communication with the group that is interested in giving them some information would begin."


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