The concern is real, people are disquieted and a bit apprehensive, and some action is needed. A major concern of Gowanda area residents, employers and employees, students, visitors and others in this region is the lack of a readily accessible emergency room facility. This is a troubling consternation of the citizens who live and work in this broad productive and beautiful geographical area.

"Gateway to the Southern Tier" is a classic term used to describe this region. Indeed, much of our geographical area serves as that gateway. What a magnificent area in which to live, work, be educated, and enjoy. And yet, a serious concern is an imperative within regional health care: the lack of appropriate and available emergency room treatment. In a life threatening emergency, proximity to treatment is of the essence; timing is critical!

The following is just one example, among others, of an emergency situation one could cite. Not many years ago, before the demise of our Tri-County Hospital in Gowanda, my wife Elaine was in immediate need of emergency health care. It was about 1:00 AM when she experienced considerable physical discomfort. It was apparent, emergency care was a dire necessity. Within minutes of the onset of the illness, she was in the emergency room at Tri-County Hospital. The highly competent medical staff diagnosed that she was having a heart attack. A treatment protocol was immediately administered. Twelve hours later, she was transferred to a Buffalo hospital for surgery. The personnel in cardiology at the Buffalo hospital were amazed that there was neither massive nor extensive heart damage. There was one explanation they said: “your wife must have received immediate and effective treatment at the onset of the attack". We were thankful and thankful too, that there was an emergency room with highly competent personnel available in our local home area.

All of us recall the catastrophic flood which occurred in the Gowanda area seven years ago, August 9 and 10, 2009. It was a tragic event, and Tri-County Hospital (TLC Health-Gowanda Campus), along with hundreds of the residents and places of business were seriously affected. The closure, and later the demise of this hospital along with its emergency room have seriously impacted a broad spectrum of the local population.

People of all ages that live, study, and work (approximately 20,000) in this region expect and depend on quality emergency care and its availability, facilities, and services. It is true; the Gowanda Urgent Care Center is a vital and genuinely responsive professional service for the people. Indeed, during the hours it is open, the Center provides highly efficient, most competent, and genuinely thoughtful urgent care for those in need. But, it is not an emergency room. What we need is to upgrade the Urgent Care Center to include a free standing emergency room facility receiving ambulance and other emergency admissions.

In dire need for such a facility are the citizens and visitors from Gowanda, Perrysburg, Collins, Collins Center, North Collins, Dayton, and South Dayton. Also, Cattaraugus, Cherry Creek, Leon, Otto, East Otto, Forestville, the Nation, and a host of other nearby communities including a sizable portion of the geographical Amish Trail community. Also, it must also be noted, this area includes three sizable State operated correctional facilities. There is no question; an emergency room facility is of the highest priority.

The now demised TLC emergency room facility we knew at Tri-County Hospital was very heavily utilized by a broad spectrum of the region. It was known for its dynamic effectiveness, excellence in efficiency, and genuine patient responsiveness. Its demise has seriously impacted a broad populated region and left a serious devoid of emergency care proximate to the people. We call on our health care decision makers, our Legislators, and those in authority to be responsive to the needs of this regional population. The restoration of the Gowanda area emergency room must be and should of eminent priority. We often speak about American Exceptionalism, and this restoration is an example of what Exceptionalism is all about. We can do no less!