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Niagara Falls Memorial announces historic plan for cardiac services

by jmaloni


Fri, Oct 23rd 2015 04:55 pm

Will join Catholic Health, ECMC and Kaleida Health to jointly operate cardiac catheterization laboratory

In an effort to address the pressing need for cardiac catheterization services in Niagara County, four Western New York health systems today announced a unique community collaboration to make this lifesaving care readily accessible to residents throughout the Niagara region.

It is believed to be the first time in New York that four distinct health systems have agreed to tackle an issue of such importance in such a collaborative manner.

The four - Catholic Health, Kaleida Health, Erie County Medical Center Corp. and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center - are seeking state approval to open a cardiac catheterization laboratory ("cath lab") at The Heart Center of Niagara on Memorial's downtown Niagara Falls campus.

The plan is detailed in separate certificate of need proposals submitted to the state today by Kaleida Health, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Catholic Health and Erie County Medical Center. It calls for ECMC to decertify one of its existing cardiac cath labs and transfer the license to the joint venture. That transfer and the establishment of the cath lab in Niagara are subject to New York State Department of Health approval.

"This plan effectively and collaboratively addresses the longstanding question of who should provide cardiac catheterization and interventional coronary care services to Niagara County residents," Memorial President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo said. "It will also eliminate glaring local disparities in the heart care available to African-Americans, Native Americans, residents of low-income households, people challenged by mental health issues and those who are developmentally or intellectually disabled."

Kaleida Health, Niagara Falls Memorial and Mount St. Mary's Hospital and Health Center in Lewiston, which became a Catholic Health site in July, had all filed separate cath lab applications with the state Health Department during the past several years. In reviewing those applications, the state asked the parties to work toward a community solution that would address the need for cardiac catheterization services in Niagara County in a more collaborative manner.

"This is a great opportunity for us to bring cardiac care directly to the community," said Jody Lomeo, president and CEO of Kaleida Health. "There is a demonstrated need and, together, we can leverage our collective strengths and address the disparities that exist today in Niagara County."

"We essentially all wanted the same thing - to make cardiac catheterization services more convenient and accessible for the residents of Niagara County, and to do it in the most cost effective way possible," said Catholic Health President and CEO Joe McDonald. "We had some good discussions over the last few months between our organizations and the pieces began to fall into place. We hope to receive state approval in the next few months so we can move forward with our plans."

Richard Cleland, CEO of ECMC, noted the cath lab also will fulfill a critical component of delivery system reform incentive program efforts by Kaleida, ECMC, Memorial and Catholic Health to improve the region's cardiovascular health.

"ECMC is proud to be a collaborating partner in the Niagara Falls Cardiac Catheterization Lab," Cleland said. "The cardiac services provided in this lab are crucial as ECMC works with the state of New York through Millennium Collaborative Care to create a population health and prevention system that reduces health care disparities throughout Western New York."

Kaleida Health, Niagara Falls Memorial, Catholic Health and ECMC will actively participate in the cath lab's operation. They will appoint members to a clinical committee to manage the day-to-day operations of the cath lab and a management committee to oversee financial operations. The group will recruit a medical director for the program and other physicians from the partner hospitals.

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure for diagnosing and treating cardiovascular conditions in which a long, thin tube called a catheter is inserted in an artery or vein in a patient's groin, neck or arm and threaded through the blood vessels to the heart. The proposed Niagara County cath lab will host such procedures as cardiac angiography, stent placement and balloon angioplasty.

The Niagara cath lab will maintain 24/7/365 capabilities to perform emergency and scheduled elective procedures and interventions.

The projected cost for constructing and equipping the new 4,145-square-foot facility is $2.2 million and will be borne by all the partners. Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has applied for $1.1 million in state funding to offset that cost.

Currently, about 1,900 Niagara County residents undergo cardiac angiography and other cardiac catheterization procedures in Erie County each year, The Niagara cath lab is projected to serve 925 patients in its first year of operation. That number is expected to increase to 1,100 patients in the second and third years of operation as the result of education and outreach efforts to historically underserved populations such as African-Americans, Native Americans, mental health patients and people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

"We hope to be open within nine months of receiving New York State Department of Health approval, which will allow us to complete the planned facility renovations and recruit and train the required staff," Ruffolo continued. "The day it opens will be the day we start to see lives saved in Niagara County because of the ready availability of this specialized care."

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