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Buffalo hospitals await word of their fate

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The State Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century will issue its long-anticipated report Tuesday on which hospitals in New York will be closed, merged or consolidated.

The Buffalo area will not be spared from hospital closings. But which ones are on the list won't be known until the state commission's report is made public. Ten days ago, officials of the Catholic Health System came out strongly against the pending recommendations, promising a fight if one of their hospitals is recommended for closing. Then, on Friday, the Community Action Organization held a rally to save the Erie County Medical Center.

Still, officials in the healthcare industry admit change is needed to "right-size" both services and facilities.

The commission's report could also have an impact on UB's School of Medicine, which has long operated without its own hospital. UB President John Simpson says the university is prepared to do its part in a changing healthcare environment.

Whatever happens, the process of closing hospitals will be extremely expensive. And the human toll will be great as well. Hospitals are one of this region's largest employers, and the loss of jobs would be difficult for the local economy to absorb.

Bruce Boissonault of the Niagara Health Quality Coalition says doing nothing doesn't make sense as healthcare costs continue to spiral ever higher.

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