NilsBy Jann Wiswall

Access to top-quality primary healthcare services within a short distance from home is getting easier for those living in Ellicottville and surrounding areas.

Springville’s Bertrand Chaffee Hospital (BCH) will be expanding its Primary Care Center when Catholic Health — a major non-profit healthcare system in Buffalo — transitions its patients from Springville Primary Care Center (SPCC) to BCH by the end of November.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to expand primary care services at the local level where they are needed most, while affiliating more closely with Catholic Health,” said BCH CEO Nils Gunnersen.

SPCC will continue to operate its Community Based Outpatient Clinic for the Veterans Administration. All other patients will be able to transfer their care seamlessly to BCH. To ensure continuity of that care, SPCC’s nurse practitioner and two physician assistants also will make the transition to BCH, as will patients’ medical records. Of course, patients who choose a primary care provider outside of BCH may have their records transferred accordingly.

And there’s more great news for BCH and patients in the region. It was recently announced that Edwin Heidelberger, M.D., Ph.D., is returning to BCH to serve as its vice president of Medical Affairs after five years working with the State Department of Health. Dr. Heidelberger, a Springville resident for almost 20 years who has served on Bertrand Chaffee’s Board of Directors, also will be seeing pediatric and adult patients at the new primary care center.

“As soon as word got out that Dr. Heidelberger was coming back, our phones didn’t stop ringing,” said Gunnersen. “He is a highly respected physician and another key to making the Primary Care Center a success.”

BCH and Catholic Health have had an affiliation agreement since 2009, which has allowed them to collaborate on programs and services that benefit patients throughout southern Erie and northern Cattaraugus Counties.

BCH offers preventive primary care for children and adults, ongoing outpatient care for patients with acute or chronic conditions, inpatient acute and critical care, complete diagnostic and imaging services, outpatient surgical services for urologic, orthopedic, podiatric, endoscopic and gynecologic procedures, and many patient education programs. The hospital also operates an emergency room, the Jennie B. Richmond Nursing Home and the only cardiology center in the entire service area.

While the hospital is small compared to most, it has a big impact not only on the health of patients, but also on the community’s economic health.

“Hospitals are big economic drivers in all communities,” said Gunnersen. “BCH is one of Springville’s top three employers, with more than 330 staff members. We have some 130,000 patient visits every year. When you consider salaries, equipment and supplies, vendor services, prescription purchases, etc., we estimate we provide some $30 million in economic benefit to the area.”

“At a time when small hospitals in rural areas all over the country are closing, our board of directors has worked diligently to ensure that this hospital will be here for the long term. Our patients deserve to have access to quality healthcare right here in their community, and the community deserves the benefits derived from having a healthy hospital in town,” Gunnersen added.

BCH is located at 222-224 East Main St. in Springville. For more information, visit or call (716) 592-2871.