I am awarding the 2008 Signature Bridge Debacle Trophy to ECMC for its stunning refusal to even come to the table to discuss and plan out the Berger Commission’s mandate-now-law to merge the Kaleida and ECMC hospital systems. ECMC has decided to take the matter to court, a tactic guaranteed to stall the merger for many years to come, and fatten the pockets of the current ECMC management team for many years to come as well. Oh, the egos.
As Bob Gioia, chairman of the board of directors in charge of the merger, stated today: “In my almost 30 years of public service, I have never experienced behavior like this, and I’m saddened for this community.” ECMC, which has the same share of seats on the board as Kaleida, walked out of a recent board meeting and, to my knowledge, has not returned.
The Signature Bridge is the embodiment of long-delayed and overdue promises to improve (or at least the appearance to improve) quality of life in Western New York. The closing of Main Street to vehicular traffic, the removal of the elevated portion of the I-190 and the Skyway, construction of Bass Pro and now the stalled hospital merger plan join it in infamy.
Excepting perhaps for the possible reopening of Main Street, the hospital merger has by far the most impact, addressing a problem that has cost taxpayer money and reduced the quality of health care for many years – too many beds, too much distribution and overlap of services, and too much overhead in the local health industry. The cost of infrastructure just to support the roughly one-third of all beds that are routinely empty is money that either cannot be spent on health care for the occupants of those beds that are filled, or is a tax on our insurance premiums and our real estate.
ECMC is supposed to be a health care provider. It is, instead, a JOBS provider, with health care taking the back seat.