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Kaleida Health to become “active parent” to Eastern Niagara Health System

The Lockport and Newfane-based hospitals of the Eastern Niagara Health System will soon join the Kaleida Health family.

Since April of 2016, Kaleida Health and the Eastern Niagara Health System have maintained a loose affiliation. But in spite of it being what Kaleida Health CEO Jody Lomeo calls a “good relationship,” the reality of challenges faced by smaller community hospitals like Eastern Niagara’s is still present.

“To the credit of the board of Eastern Niagara, they have desired a more integrated relationship so that they can leverage our system to the benefits of the patients and the community,” said Lomeo.

That relationship will come in the form of an “active parent” partnership model. Eastern Niagara will remain its own legal entity, while Kaleida assumes responsibility and authority. It’s not the first model of its kind for Kaleida. A similar approach was taken with its partnership with Olean-based Upper Allegheny Health System, which was finalized in July.

Kaleida wants to focus first on hospital quality at Eastern Niagara, which Lomeo said will lead to improved finances. They’ll also look at the ability to recruit doctors – something that has proved challenging for Eastern Niagara when competing with other regional institutions like Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Williamsville.

“Now that they’re part of a system, we’re able to utilize all of our resources, all of our manpower to better how we deliver care and better the access to care from Eastern Niagara,” said Lomeo.

Through Kaleida’s one-system strategy, competition with hospitals like Millard Fillmore Suburban and DeGraff Memorial in Tonawanda are expected to be replaced by collaboration on a regional level. For the residents of Western New York’s Northtowns and Niagara County, Lomeo said its good news.

“The fact that it will be delivered in the community, and that now that community has seamless access to all of our sites and all of our programs – I think it’s a huge win.”

Within the next 30 days, Kaleida will submit a Certificate of Need to the New York State Department of Health. Lomeo expects the deal to be finalized by mid-2018.

In the meantime, Kaleida officials will be working to engage the staff at Eastern Niagara, establish new financial and marketing plans, and conduct a community needs assessment. They’ll also be working to establish a new plan for system-wide quality, and find a replacement for current Eastern Niagara CEO Clare Haar. Haar will stay on to help during the transition. No changes are currently planned for other staff.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.