Thursday, February 24, 2022

Including Video Segments Produced by DN's Mark Gutman:
Crowd demands answers over Dr. Mason’s termination from WCCHS

Castile resident Diane Yount
 speaks to the Wyoming County
 Community Health System's 
Board of Managers on 
Tuesday evening.

A half an hour before Wyoming County Community Health System conducted its monthly Board of Managers meeting, the lobby outside the meeting room was swarmed with citizens angry at last month’s decision to terminate Dr. Paul Mason’s contract prematurely.

About 100 people were waiting Tuesday evening, wanting to speak and looking for answers. Even when the board tried to limit the amount of people who would be able enter the room due to limited seating, the crowd refused and pushed their way in. While some sat in seats, the majority stood, some spilling out into the halls, and others resting against the room’s window ledges.

There they listened and questioned for an hour and a half. The meeting would go on for an additional 30 minutes after the crowd left before convening for an executive session which lasted an hour.

The answer they got to why Dr. Mason’s contract was terminated wasn’t the one they wanted.

“The only way you’ll ever hear the causes we have is if it goes to court and becomes public record,” said President Rich Kosmerl.

Mason — a highly popular orthopedic surgeon — had been with the WCCHS since 2014 and went full-time with the facility three years later. He has been cited by many as a key figure in turning the hospital’s once-poor reputation around, and replacing it with one of excellence.

The crowd included patients, doctors and staff.





Nancy Pump of Arcade said Dr. Mason operated on her two years ago when she couldn’t even walk because of her hip. She said Dr. Mason, James O’May and Becky Noon were the best people she ever had.


“You should be ashamed of your yourselves,” she said. “Look at yourselves in the mirror and seen what you have done to this county. This hospital worked like crazy to build itself up. I haven’t stepped foot in Springville hospital since this one became what it was. But guess what? I’m not coming back.”

Dr. Dale Deahn, a family physician from Arcade, has been working with the hospital for two and a half years. Since hearing about Dr. Mason’s termination, he said, he became concerned for the quality of orthopedic care for patients.

Deahn said he avoided making referrals to Warsaw for years, but Mason completely changed that opinion.

“He came to Warsaw with the attitude he loved the people here,” Deahn said, before choking up. “He put his heart and soul, and all his efforts into this program.”

Deahn said Dr. Mason’s presence was the reason he decided to align himself with Warsaw. As chief medical officer, Mason not only recruited Deahn but other qualified medical physicians.

Dr. Farkad Balaya, chief of OB/GYN services at WCCHS, came to Wyoming County to help out with surgery. Like Deahn, he was recruited by Mason.

He said they need to know why the board of directors is making decisions — that it can’t be behind closed doors.

“I’ve been working here as the only OB/GYN covering the hospital since Sept. 16, 24/7,” he said. “I was promised I was going to get help. Until now I don’t have help. “I was promised January,” he continued. “I was promised February. I was promised March. I don’t see that happening.”

Carrie Vangrol, a nurse practitioner and independent provider in Warsaw, passed around a list made in 2015 of providers who came to the hospital. Quite a few had an ‘X’ on them.

“Dr. (Lauren) Loss is gone,” Vangrol said. “My understanding is she was given an offer she couldn’t refuse. They wanted her to be on duty 24/7. They wanted her to be here within an hour of a call. Unacceptable. And a pay cut. A lot of the doctors have been bullied out, let go or just expendable.”

Vangrol said the administration at the hospital has to change — that right now the hospital is dying, which resulted in a murmur of agreement from the crowd.

Karin Rice, a registered operating room nurse at the hospital, started the online petition to bring Mason back to WCCHS. The petition had reached 2,500 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

Rice said she seriously believes the termination of the Buffalo Bone and Joint contract, Dr. Mason’s practice, is a serious and grave mistake which will be impossible for the WCCHS to rebound from.

“For the past two years I have spent hours of my personal time, along with my fellow colleagues — some of which whom just spoke earlier — trying to understand the decisions made by this board and administration,” she said. “I am well aware of the volatile health care environment, financial pressures and political burdens at the state level which has been forced upon us since the beginning of 2020. I have spent 40-plus hours a week living it.”

Rice said while some of these pressures have been heightened since the pandemic, many have always existed for rural hospitals. In her own research, she found out orthopedic care ranked as the third most lucrative speciality behind invasive cardiovascular surgery and neurosurgery. In a recent letter to The Daily News, Donald T. Eichenauer retired WCCHS CEO, said healthcare industry publications regularly identify orthopaedics as one of the top two or three financially positive practices that a hospital should build around to be successful.

WCCHS offers neither invasive cardiovascular surgery or neurosurgery.

The questions the crowd had focused on Why was Dr. Mason’s contract terminated. Was it political? A vendetta? Financial? Why did four other board members leave? Where is Dr. Mason now?

What answers they received, they weren’t happy with.

Kosmerl said he couldn’t talk about the reason he was let go due to state, federal and local laws. What the public did learn was it wasn’t for financial reasons, and the process started with now dead CEO Joseph McTernan a couple years ago. Last month the board voted 7-2 to follow McTernan’s decision and end Dr. Mason’s contract three years early.

As for current orthopedic care, the hospital brought in a spine surgeon for six weeks. Currently he is not qualified to see follow-ups for a hip or knee surgery, nor will he do any in the future.

A part-time orthopedic doctor will be brought in March for two weeks out of the month. What the public currently knows about him is he’s from Florida, according to the president, and not much else.

The hospital is also recruiting a full-time orthopedic physician.

In the meantime, the hospital has been recommending three orthopedic surgeons in Buffalo.

The public demanded for the hospital to renegotiate with Dr. Mason for a new contract. Kosmerl said while there is a chance for Dr. Mason to get reinstated, it’s unlikely. He said he wasn’t even sure if Dr. Mason would want to return to which the public cried out he did.

Even after publicly arguing for the majority of the meeting, the board of directors took no further action regarding Dr. Mason.

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SILVER LAKE EXPERIENCE (SLE) - Registration now Open for this August 4-6, 2022's SLE. See: SilverLakeExperience.org

W. PETE MAIRS

W. PETE MAIRS
Walter D. “Pete” Mairs, 81, died peacefully on July 23, 2021. Born in Avon, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 1939, Pete was a longtime resident of Geneva, N.Y., and these past many years in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as his beloved Silver Lake. Pete is survived by his wife, Linda Bergstrom Mairs, a loving and true companion; children, Mimi C. Mairs, Jonathan B. Mairs; sisters, June Huff, Helen Dole; brother, Thomas Mairs; stepchildren, Daniel Brinkworth, Jennie Ramsey; sister-in-law, Anne Bergstrom, eight beautiful grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A service and celebration of life is planned for the fall when all can share the joy of Pete’s life together. Arrangements by Stephenson – Dougherty Funeral Home, Avon, N.Y.

Editor's Note: It was a privilege knowing and working with Pete Mairs during his presidency of the Silver Lake Institute. He was a kind and gentle man, but also firm in his leadership. I served as Treasurer and Chaplain of SLI during those years and I could always depend on Pete's presence in the worship service. He was a man of faith and a gem of a human being. May he rest in God's care.

GERALD C. SAHRLE

GERALD C. SAHRLE
Gerald C. Sahrle, 80, of Perry, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Wayland, N.Y., to the late Charles A. and Helen I. (Blowers) Sahrle. Gerry was a line foreman for 32 1/2 years for NYSE&G, working out of the Perry and Hamburg locations, and was a Town of Perry Councilman. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Constellation Lodge -404 in Perry. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and woodworker. He is survived by his wife, Valary A. (Conley) Sahrle; 1 son, Gerald (Pamela) Sahrle II of Silver Springs; 2 sisters, Millie Edmond of Greece, Bonnie Fink of Winston-Salem, N.C., 3 brothers, Ronald (Linda) Sahrle of Dansville, Robert (Susan) Sahrle of Springwater, Kenneth Sahrle of Dansville; 5 grandchildren, Bradley Musscarella, Stone and Winston Sahrle, Conley and Cooper Gayton; along with many nieces, nephews and friends. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Sahrle, who passed away in 2012. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Gerry will be laid to rest in West Perry Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Perry Center Fire Department, P.O. Box 204, Perry, NY 14530. For more information, please call (585) 237-2626 or to leave a message of condolence, visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 North Main Street, Perry, NY 14530.

Editor's Note: Gerald and Valarie could always be seen in the family pew with Pamela, Stone and Winston at Perry First United Methodist Church and continue to be loved. Gerry will be sorely missed. Both were supporters of the Arts at the Silver Lake Institute and Valarie was active in painting and participating in the Annual Show in August. Valarie's presence was always valued and appreciated.

KATHARINE E. PRACZKAJLO ("Kathy P.")

KATHARINE E. PRACZKAJLO ("Kathy P.")
"Kathy P." passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Editor's Note: "Kathy P." as she was better known to us at Silver Lake was an annual summer visitor for most of the last number of years at the invitation of Silver Laker Julia Hoffner. She stayed at the Hoffner Cottage, and became known as both the fun visitor with the vivacious smile to the neighbors at the intersection of Haven Ave. and the Ames Walkway. Kathy P. and Julie could be seen walking and talking between the cottage and the Hoffner boathouse where they could be close to the water. She was also occasionally seen at the Saturday morning breakfasts at Stoody Hall. Her stay was anywhere between 4 days and a week where she had the opportunity to develop a love for Silver Lake. She was not yet eligible for retirement when late last week she developed "a cold" and had to remain home from her job. She did not update her condition over the weekend so the local police made a wellness visit and found her deceased on Monday. She was one of those many people who found Silver Lake and friendship for brief respites where she also found new strength and energy to return to work. She is being particularly mourned by those in the Haven/Ames neighborhood. She will be memorialized next summer at the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Epworth Hall.

BRENDA J. PADDOCK

BRENDA J. PADDOCK
Brenda Joan Paddock, 82, of Perry, born April 15, 1939, now resides in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brenda met Jesus as her Savior in 1965. She met him in person on Nov. 14, 2021. She had a beautiful homecoming with music, singing and praying, leading her into Glory. Her last words were “I am well, I am well.”

Brenda’s greatest loves were her family and friends. Brenda had five children with her husband Roger: Don and Daelene Paddock of Florida, Jody and Tim Von Sanden of Pavilion, Bradley and Jeanie Paddock of Warsaw, Jennifer and Paul Guy of Massachusetts, and Nathan and Jill Paddock of Perry.

Brenda dearly loved her grandchildren: Jessica Morillo, Nikki and Clint O’Brien, Luke Paddock, Paul Paddock, Ian and Brooklyn Paddock, Joe and Louana Paddock, Burke and Megan Paddock, Aaron Paddock, Ellen Paddock, Andrew Paddock, Rachael Paddock, Abigail Paddock, Erik and Cassandra Von Sanden, Jacquelyn and Michael Jones, Tim Von Sanden, Brandon and Brandee Paddock, Jamey and Laura Paddock, Peter and Kara Guy, Candy and Jay Waitkevich, Marlo and Ryan Bolger and Jenna and Rory Peterson.

Brenda was blessed and loved her great grandchildren: Chloe, Olivia and Nicholas Von Sanden, Joshua and Jaxon Morillo, Jameson and Cassandra O’Brien, Atlas Paddock, Noah and Ezra Jones, Colton, Brantley and Charlotte Guy, Cameron Waitkevich, Amelia Bolger and Brennen Leonard.

Brenda is also survived by her brother and sister in laws; Frank and Emma Paddock, Viva and Jim Phillips-Richardson and Kurt and Lynn Paddock.

Brenda first started working as a secretary at Perry Central School. She then assisted her husband building Paddock’s Breeding Service. Roger and Brenda together built and ran the Sandsabarn teenage nightclub. Brenda was owner and operator of Serendipity Travel. Brenda’s pleasures included playing organ and piano. She played at a number of area churches along with performing for her loved ones. UPDATED -- Brenda also played with conviction at both indoor and outdoor services at the Silver Lake Institute where her grandson, Luke, sang at Epworth Hall on several occasions and was appreciated by all who heard his inspiring voice.

Brenda was preceded in death by her parents Noble and Freda Buckland, her husband Roger and son Bradley.

A Committal service at West Perry Cemetery will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a Celebration of Life at LaGrange Baptist Church at 4 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made in Brenda’s honor to the LaGrange Baptist Church 7092 LaGrange Rd. Perry, NY 14530 or to the First Congregational Church P.O. Box 156 Perry, NY 14530. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 N. Main St., Perry, N.Y. 14530. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com.

AUGUST 4-7, 2022

AUGUST 4-7, 2022
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