June 21, 2008

ECMC Should Remain a Public Unit, Poll Finds

By Henry L. Davis, The Buffalo News, N.Y.

Jun. 21--Erie County Medical Center on Friday issued the results of a survey it commissioned in which most of the 600 respondents said they believe the hospital should remain a public facility.

The survey also asked people if they believe ECMC should be closed and its services moved to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Sixty-two percent disagreed, although there is no proposal to close ECMC and move its services elsewhere.

Kaleida Health spokesman Michael Hughes said the parties agree that ECMC should remain a viable public facility, and questioned what the medical center was trying to accomplish with the survey conducted by Eric Mower and Associates.

The survey coincides with the drafting of competing bills in the State Legislature to consolidate ECMC with Kaleida Health in hopes of improving hospital care and doctor-training in Buffalo.

The Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century ordered ECMC and Kaleida to form a unified, nonpublic entity that includes UB, an effort that has turned into a contentious forced marriage. It imposed a deadline of June 30, although the legislative session is scheduled to end Tuesday.

Asked about their greatest concern for the future of health care, most respondents picked having access to the best doctors and hospitals that provide care even to those unable to pay. Most of those surveyed believe ECMC cares for the most uninsured patients in the area, when Kaleida Health does not.

ECMC officials said the results verify the public's understanding of ECMC's services and improved financial performance in recent years.

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