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What Does Future Hold for Children's Hospital?

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – What will the future hold for Children's Hospital in Buffalo? That's the question on many minds now that Kaleida Health confirmed it is considering recommendations to move Children's from Bryant Street.

Walking through a main hallway of Children's Hospital Wednesday, it was business as usual for nurses, doctors and staff providing quality care for young patients. But the chairman of Kaleida Health's board of directors, Gerald Lippes, says the health system can no longer conduct business as usual. He revealed a set of recommendations issued by The Hunter Group, a national heath care consulting firm. One of the recommendations suggests that Children's be relocated to Millard Fillmore Gates Circle or Buffalo General at the High Street Medical Campus. Lippes says Kaleida lost $35 million last year and now needs to achieve sufficient financial surpluses by consolidating.

Lippes says Kaleida can no longer sustain a free-standing facility. He says there's been a decline in the number of women in their child bearing years and a decrease in the number of babies born in Buffalo. But Lippes stressed the board has not made a final decision.

Lippes says the new hospital location would still feature services for children and women. Kaleida calls the recommendation to move Children's as "right sizing." But some Children's physicians say it is clearly "down sizing." Dr. Bradley Furhman, Chief of Pediatrics of Intensive Care at Childrens, is against the move. Dr. Furhman says there are also concerns that moving Childrens will create recruitment problems.

But Gerald Lippes says Childrens has trouble filling hospital beds. With medical advances, he says, physicians are able to treat many children on an "outpatient basis." Lippes also indicated care for adults is more profitable for the system.

Dr. Furhman says children have special health needs and should not be placed within an adult hospital. He says there is no question Kaleida is "financial strapped" but says moving Children's should not be the solution.

Kaleida says the Hunter Group "seriously" considered closing either High Street or Gates Circle. But Kaleida says the only option that would achieve the balance of financial stability it seeks is too relocate Childrens. Kaleida's board of directors is expected to take final action on these recommendations by mid-March. If the move is approved, it would occur over the next three years.