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Hospital Closure Threat Over

By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-724588.mp3

Buffalo, NY – A state supreme court judge Wednesday dismissed the legal proceeding that brought the Erie County Medical Center and Kaleida to the brink before an agreement to merge was finally reached. Approval from the state health commissioner is now the last piece of a complicated merger puzzle.

The threat of hospital closure is now past. Justice John Curran Wednesday dismissed the county's Article 78 proceeding. That action sought the closure of ECMC or Kaleida if an agreement wasn't reached.

But the judge said the county's historic agreement on Monday makes that action moot. The county agreed. All that remains is the blessing of the state health commissioner.

That approval had been hoped for before Wednesday's hearing. Western New York Health System Board Chairman Robert Gioia said there are merely some details to be worked out.

According to officials, the main sticking point is working out the percentages needed for a veto of the physician steering committee so that they reconcile with the representation of each board. ECMC will have fewer members appointed to the joint board. But ECMC vice chairman Sam Shapiro said that is a detail, not a concern.

Kaleida Chief Executive Officer James Kaskie said he also is not concerned about the deal faltering before it is finalized. He said there is a new spirit of cooperation.

With an agreement in process, officials say the June 30 is also no longer an issue. That means that once approved, the merger will allow the joint board to proceed with plans, including the new heart vascular center.

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