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Hospital, Catholic Health sign collaboration pact

Mount St. Mary's Hospital and the Catholic Health System formalized their ongoing collaboration in an agreement signed this week.

The collaborative services agreement allows Mount St. Mary's to continue using equipment and services at the Catholic Health System hospitals in Erie County, Judith A. Maness, president and chief executive officer of Mount St. Mary's, said Friday.

That 175-bed hospital, although a Catholic institution, is not part of Catholic Health. It is owned by Ascension Health, a nationwide group of Catholic health facilities.

"Patients who are living in Niagara County typically could use Mount St. Mary's, but if there's a service we don't offer, for example a robot that's used for surgery, the patient could be redirected to Sisters Hospital [in Buffalo]," Maness said.

"We sometimes on our own could not afford some of the more advanced technologies," she said. For example, a surgical robot costs about $1.8 million.

"It wouldn't be reasonable for us to spend $2 million on a piece of equipment you use once in a while when it can be centrally located and used all the time," Maness said.

"By creating partnerships that help patients access specialty services that didn't exist or were geographically out of reach, we are improving the health of our community while controlling the cost of care," said Joseph McDonald, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Health.

Catholic Health previously signed similar agreements with Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville and Cuba Memorial Hospital in Cuba.

"Our goal is to work with community hospitals, like Mount St. Mary's, to help strengthen their ability to care for patients locally, rather than simply transfer patients out of the community unnecessarily," McDonald said.

As a result of the cooperation that already existed, Mount St. Mary's has access to Catholic Health's electronic medical records system and can negotiate better rates with insurance companies, Maness said.

Catholic Health and Mount St. Mary's also have jointly requested a permit, or "certificate of need," from the state Health Department to build a $7.9 million cardiac catheterization lab at Mount St. Mary's, allowing angioplasties to be performed at the Lewiston hospital.

Many of its physicians are members of the 900-member Catholic Health Partners.