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Hospital Merger Talks Stall

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – County and hospital officials met in Albany this week for one final push to resolve the hotly contested hospital consolidation plan. But hopes for that appear dim since a court hearing on the matter is still on for Thursday.

The county and the Erie County Medical Center both have lawsuits blocking the merger with Kaleida as it is currently outlined in the draft law. They say the merger would leave ECMC and taxpayers vulnerable.

Still, the parties met with the western new york delegation this week trying to hammer out a compromise. On Wednesday, county administration spokesman Grant Loomis sounded optimistic about the prospects.

But it appears that optimism was premature.

As of late Wednesday, New York State Supreme Justice John Curran was still scheduled to hear arguments in the county's article 78 proceeding.

County Executive Chris Collins argues that, according to the Berger Commission mandates, either ECMC or Buffalo General hospital should be closed if an agreement is not reached.

A Kaleida spokesman said no agreement is close at hand. An ECMC spokesman said they are still willing to negotiate.

The deadline for a law to be passed outlining the merger - also opening the door to millions in state and federal funding - is June 30.

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