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Sheehan and Grace Manor Study Collaboration

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Two Buffalo health care organizations are moving ahead with plans to merge operations.

Officials for Sheehan Memorial Hospital and the Grace Manor Nursing Facility Tuesday outlined their vision for the proposed collaboration.

The ink is still wet on the plan for the proposed marriage of these two independent health facilities.

Right now, officials say the goal is to find ways they can become more dependent on one another - and stronger as a result.

Sheila Kee is Chief Financial Officer for the financially troubled Sheehan Memorial Hospital. Under mounds of debt, Sheehan filed for bankruptcy last year.

But Kee said the idea for a collaboration was in the works nearly a year before that. And she said that certainly long before the state formed its right-sizing commission on health care.

"We're doing this voluntarily. We're not being told by the right-sizing commission to do this. This is good for the community. It's good for both organizations," said Kee. "And, hopefully, the right-sizing commission will view this as an exciting opportunity as a demonstration of what they are seeking."

Kee said they will make decisions based primarily on how best to improve health care for their predominantly African-American patients.

Recommendations for shared services and savings will be outlined in a feasibility study, which is due to be complete September 1.

June Hoeflich is Chair of the boards of both Sheehan and Grace Manor. She said the collaboration could take many forms.

"It could be anything from service agreement, sharing management. It could end up into a full asset merger. We don't know," said Hoeflich. "But we do know that we have to take this time to do this feasibility study, to see what will work for both organizations, to ensure that there is continued health care to the community."

Some of the preliminary strategies call for sharing laboratory and dietary services, as well as financial and marketing expertise.

Long-term, officials envision expanding specialty services, perhaps adding dental care and assisted living.

But they said Buffalo's East Side residents should not look for a return of the emergency room at Sheehan Memorial. They said that adding limited urgent care services in the future is more likely.