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Future Looks Bright For Women & Children's Hospital | Health

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Future Looks Bright For Women & Children's Hospital
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BY RICH KELLMAN

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Families and neighbors and businesses around Women and Children's Hospital have long said the hospital is more than just bricks and mortar.

Pediatrician Dr. Steven Lana sees it as a testimonial to the power of change. "It is incredible, how many things can change and would not have been anticipated," he says.

They could not have seen it back in early 2002. Politicians and celebritiies mothers and fathers and children, and doctors themselves rallied against change. Against closing the hospital on Bryant Street and making it part of the still unrealized Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus on high street. "They sure better find money to keep Children's Hospital," Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills told the crowd.

"It's the most important thing in Buffalo," said a man with a small boy in his arms.

Passion like that collided with the bottom-line thinking of parent company Kaleida Health. Kaleida board chairman Gerald Lippes told a news conference in early 2002, "We can't be governed by passion. We have to make reasoned decisions."

Ultimately back then, passion won out. But so did reason. "We were heavily in debt" says Lana. "Where's the money going to come from?"

The uproar brought political support, and that brought State and private money.

"The big difference," says Lana, "was leadership."

Leadership came in the person of William Mcguire. He was brought in as Kaleida CEO in early 2002. "The emphasis is more on common ground rather than continuing to dispute differences," he told reporters.

McGuire listened to the crowd, he paid attention to the doctors. "They are superb at what they do. We need them, the community needs them, it would be a shame if they left the community."

He talked with employees, he talked with residents, he talked with merchants. "He changed the landscape," says Lana.

So today ... children's is still on Bryant Street. But time doesn't stand still. The medical campus, once just a dream, is moving ahead. And residents recently objected, again. this time, to hospital plans to transfer its outpatient services from the hospital to residentialy properties across Hodge Street.

Dr. Michael Caty heads a physicians steering committee to re-think the expansion. "We have significant development on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus," he points out. A global heart vascular institute is under construction, UB is looking to move its medical school to the campus, and Lana says, "Now Kaleida has a track record, and there are relationships of trust, and there is financial stability."

Given all that, the hospital now plans to re-locate the outpatient surgery center to the medical campus at Main and High Streets, near Buffalo General Hospital. "It's just a floor that does surgery," says Caty.

But it was impossible eight years ago. Today, it's an opportunity today, and there may be more tomorrow. We asked Caty, "Do you expect to see the entire hospital moved to the Medical Campus?

Caty measures his words carefully. "We have a vision for a new women's and children's hospital to be co-located on that campus."

A vision and not a plan. The plan is for just the ambulatory surgery center. The entire facility could be shifted to the campus in maybe ten years, maybe longer.

"The handwriting's on the wall," says nearby restaurant owner Joe Jacobbi. "It just makes sense to have everything in one spot."

Resident Ellen Malone feels it's all but inevitable."This being landlocked hurts them."

"The only certainty is change," says Steven Lana. "If circumstances change, you have to be willing to revisit things and make decisions that are more appropriate for those different circumstances." And that, he says, can turn a dream into reality. "I want to see shovels in the ground," he says. 
Those shovels for the ambulatority surgery center are expected to be in the ground at the Medical Campus by sometime in March.

Produced and reported by Rich Kellman

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