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CEO Young also announces plan to build $91.7 million heart and vascular care center

Buffalo, NY (April 4, 2007) -  Erie County Medical Center CEO Michael A. Young today announced that in 2006 audited financial results show the hospital had a $7.5 million profit after paying all expenses.

This is the hospital's first such operating profit in memory and represents a $36 million improvement in operating margin in two years. The reversal of recent trends has been driven largely by more patients choosing and using the hospital and a focus on operating efficiencies and cost savings.

Operating revenues increased by $66 million, or 24 percent, over the past two years as costs were contained and more patients selected ECMC for services they knew were excellent here. From 2005 to 2006 revenues increased 16 percent, or $47 million, to total $338 million.

In 2006, Erie County contributed $20 million to the hospital's operation. In recognition of that support, the hospital returned to Erie County taxpayers $3 million of the operating profit and invested the remainder in improvements at ECMC. Erie County leaders deserve credit for establishing a new corporation in 2004 so ECMC could strive for such improvements. The county and hospital end their operating subsidy in 2008.

These financial results clearly demonstrate ECMC's turnaround and dynamic responses to the needs of the region's patients and taxpayers.

Young also announced today that in keeping with the wishes of New York's Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, ECMC will move ahead with its plans for a $91.7 million "comprehensive heart and vascular" care facility. The hospital's corporation will finance half and it will seek soon-to-be-available state funds for the remainder.

"This is not just a building, it's a whole new level of cardiac care," Young said at a morning news conference.

This facility, to be built on ECMC's 67-acre campus and be part of the hospital's 2010 care initiatives, would have 56 beds and four multi-platform operating rooms that will minimize the need to move patients, while providing state-of-the-art care. The cardiac care center has been in the planning stages since before the Dec. 1, 2006 release of the Berger Commission report and state health officials are well aware of the plan. At another highly-rated hospital Young led, he aggregated women's and children's services in one location and orthopedic services in another. They were each placed in new free-standing facilities leading to the creation of nationally ranked health care, which is what he's proposing here for cardiac care.

Already home to the state's best trauma center, ECMC's cardiac care center would be a logical, 24/7 extension of that unit, seamlessly performing heart care procedures in one place on a national model and level of excellence. With the Berger Commission ordering three hospitals in Buffalo-Niagara to close and two in Niagara County to merge, there is going to be a major need for expanded and much-improved cardiac care in this region, a fact that the commission notes in its December report.

"ECMC has demonstrated that it's always focused on the patient first," Young said. "That focus is regardless of ability to pay, regardless of what time - 1 a.m. on a Saturday, 11 p.m. on Sunday - that someone has an acute cardiac need for our services."

"We have built those services based on what the community needs, not necessarily what's best for the hospital," he added.

"ECMC has a unique set of clinical services that the state Department of Health recognizes and respects," Young explained. "This hospital has also, with these dramatic financial turnaround results, demonstrated that its historical challenges have been met."

People have heard so much about excess hospital beds in this region, the immediate question has to be, ‘Why add more?' Young said. He gave five reasons:

·         The Berger Commission recognizes the regional need for such a facility.

·         State money to help build this facility will be available soon and Western New York patients and taxpayers deserve their fair share, as well as the ability to leverage that money in a way that will markedly improve the region's health-care outcomes.

·         ECMC's patient volumes have grown consistently over the last two years, requiring it to expand to safely meet patient demand.

·         ECMC's trauma center provides the expertise and around-the-clock training and mindset to provide the best-possible cardiac care.

·         Clinical demographic data show that Western New Yorkers have too much cardiovascular and diabetes afflictions and congestive heart failure and coronary death rates are too high

"According to the region's health insurers, some 550 Western New Yorkers went out of town for this sort of cardiac care last year, taking with them an estimated $18 million worth of Medicare reimbursements," Young said. "We need to repair those ‘broken hearts' but also revitalize them by demonstrating to our patients that they can get superior care at home, near their families and loved ones."

Young added that ECMC remains committed to negotiations to create a new health care entity for Buffalo Niagara, as ordered by the Berger Commission and enforced by the state Health Department. ECMC is moving to do what is best for Western New York patients and taxpayers because state monies are available in the near term and it's ‘use it or lose it' money, Young said.

"We don't want to lose these monies to downstate while we're talking about ‘new entities,' up here," Young said. "The community needs to get a plan established for providing national model cardiac care with a coordinated and aggregated method. ECMC is providing community leadership by offering that plan."

"ECMC is now far stronger financially and clinically than it was five years ago," Young added. "Our door remains wide open to reaching a compromise that will lead to a more efficient and excellent health care system for Buffalo-Niagara. We want to enhance the region's ability to help the patients who rely on the health care system - all the patients."

The planned 85,000-square-foot cardiac care center would employ 100 additional, high-paying professionals with full benefits. It will also continue to cement ECMC's commitment to an underserved inner-city. neighborhood with significant investment in jobs - including construction work - and services.

"If we don't put forward a plan for high-end cardiac care, we're going to lose the key state funding to do it," Young concluded. "We can do it right, and we can do it together. Buffalo needs to do it now."
 

ABOUT THE ERIE COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER:

Erie County Medical Center is known for its best-in-the-state, life-saving Level I trauma center; also excellent heart, kidney, burn, psychiatric and orthopedic programs; a superior physician and nursing staff.
 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Thomas Quatroche
Erie County Medical Center
(716) 898-5503
TQuatroc@ecmc.edu

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4/4/2007

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