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ECMC Opens Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Facility on ECMC Health Campus consolidates services

BUFFALO, NY - Jan. 16, 2014 - Erie County Medical Center Corp. today dedicated a new psychiatric emergency room and outpatient mental health and drug dependency treatment center, thereby completing the $25 million Regional Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at ECMC.

The center of excellence, under the auspices of Great Lakes Health System of Western New York, is a physician-driven collaboration between ECMC and Kaleida Health. It is a state-of-the-art, comprehensive psychiatric emergency program (CPEP), with a new outpatient treatment center and new inpatient beds in the main building to serve mental health patients in the eight counties of Western New York. 

Funding for the new center came from a $15 million grant from the Healthcare Efficiency and Affordability Law of New York and ECMC contributed $10 million.

"The Behavioral Health Center for Excellence is a collaborative effort that will result in better and more efficient care for patients with mental illness and their families," said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. "I applaud the hard work of the many healthcare professionals who came together for the good of the region to create a comprehensive continuum of mental health and substance abuse services for some of Western New York's most vulnerable residents," the governor added. "This modern integrated model of care is the approach needed to help New Yorkers find recovery and resiliency in a safe and nurturing environment.  I am pleased that the state was able to dedicate $15 million to allow this project to happen."

The behavioral health center of excellence is the third major addition to the ECMC campus in the last three years, joining the Regional Center of Excellence for Transplantation & Kidney Care and the Terrace View Long-Term Care Facility.

"ECMC has undergone a transformation, both inwardly and outwardly, in the last few years as we worked with New York State, Great Lakes and Kaleida to re-organize and consolidate our respective specialties to the benefit of our patients and Erie County's health-care infrastructure," said Jody L. Lomeo, ECMC's CEO. "This region's health-care offerings are now more efficient, more effective and thoroughly modernized."

The consolidated behavioral health model combines ECMC's and Buffalo General Medical Center's behavioral health programs to create a single, 162-bed inpatient psychiatric program in a 36,000-square-foot building to the east of the main ECMC hospital building. It incorporates ECMC's current 18 detoxification beds and 20 inpatient chemical dependency rehabilitation beds.

The new center expands ECMC's current emergency behavioral health facilities from 6,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet. "The consolidation of ECMC and Kaleida's behavioral health programs is just one more example of how collaboration in our community can raise the level of care for our entire region," said Robert Gioia, chairman of the Great Lakes Health board of directors. "I congratulate ECMC on another successful initiative to provide the very best care to the patients of Western New York."

Mental health care in Western New York, as statewide, is fragmented and costly to the state's Medicaid payment system. In the last 20 years, the Buffalo Psychiatric Center went from 1,200 beds to 160 and the Gowanda Psychiatric and West Seneca Developmental centers closed.

Other inpatient facilities downsized or closed in recent years and while non-profit outpatient services exist, there is a lack of coordination among community providers. Psychiatrists are also in short supply throughout the region.

This combination of factors created a crisis for mental health patients and their families in Western New York. Mentally ill and chemically dependent patients in crisis are, many times, forced to find care in crowded hospital emergency rooms, which leads to more costly episodic inpatient care and unsafe conditions for clinical staff.

"The partnership between Kaleida Health and ECMC has led to better-defined, higher quality and less-duplicative services for the patients we serve," said Kaleida President and CEO James Kaskie. "Whether it's cardiac and stroke care at the Gates Vascular Institute, or behavioral health and transplant at ECMC, the community wins from these consolidations. It is taking what we have, which is very good, and making it better."

The integrated model will combine the current outpatient volumes of 44,000 annual visits in 2013 at ECMC and Kaleida's 69,000 annual visits with services provided onsite at ECMC and at its community-based locations.

ECMC now has 126 licensed adult inpatient psychiatric beds; 18 geriatric-psychiatric beds; 16 adolescent beds; and two forensic beds. A 10-bed intensive care unit will open in June, bringing total beds to 172. It had 4,609 total psychiatric and chemical dependency discharges in 2013. Buffalo General Medical Center had 91 licensed inpatient beds with 2,307 annual discharges in 2011.

In August, Dr. Michael R. Cummings, a UB assistant professor of clinical psychiatry, became the interim Executive Director for Behavioral Health Integration at ECMC. The position oversees the behavioral health, substance abuse and dependency treatment programs at the medical center and its affiliated clinics.

ABOUT ERIE COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER (ECMC) CORPORATION:  The ECMC Corporation includes an advanced academic medical center (ECMC) with 550 inpatient beds, on- and off-campus health centers, more than 30 outpatient specialty care services and Terrace View, a 390-bed long-term care facility.  ECMC is the regional center for trauma, burn care, behavioral health services, transplantation, and rehabilitation and is a major teaching facility for the University at Buffalo.  Most ECMC physicians, dentists and pharmacists are dedicated faculty members of the university and/or members of a private practice plan.  More Western New York residents are choosing ECMC for exceptional patient care and patient experiences-the difference between healthcare and true careTM. 




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