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ECMC CAPITAL SPENDING PLANS WIN PRAISE FROM LAWMAKERS

Erie County legislators gave positive reviews Thursday to nearly $6 million in equipment and renovations planned this year by Erie County Medical Center.

The spending, totaling $5,936,312, is included in the medical center's capital budget and will mostly be used for work at the medical center.

Some of the funding will go for equipment purchases at the Erie County Home in Alden, Paul Warda, the medical center's chief financial officer, said during a meeting of the Legislature's Finance and Management Committee.

The capital spending includes:

$500,000 to renovate a patient unit that hasn't been refurbished since 1978.

$1.17 million to purchase point-of-care devices that will enable nurses to track patients' records from the bedside -- without piles of paperwork.

$1.5 million to replace an obsolete body-scanning unit with a unit that will cut the scanning time from 20 minutes per patient to five minutes.

$350,000 to replace outdated endoscopic surgery equipment.

Warda said the projects will be spread out over the year and are all "pay-as-you-go" projects, rather than bonded ones.

Legislator Lynn M. Marinelli, D-Town of Tonawanda, said the list of projects is the most forthcoming explanation of capital improvements that she has ever seen from the medical center.

"It's wonderful, and it gives us a good way to check up on these things," Marinelli said. "It's easy to follow, and we can keep track of the taxpayers' dollars better this way."

Warda said he will come before the Legislature throughout the year to update legislators on progress of the various projects.

Committee Chairwoman Crystal D. Peoples, D-Buffalo, said Warda will be asked to return to the Finance and Management Committee throughout the year to continue discussions of needed improvements and equipment upgrades at the medical center.

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