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PHYSICIANS PUSHING CGF TO CREATE MATERNITY CENTER

Buffalo obstetricians and gynecologists want to hold the CGF Health System to its promise of creating a medical center where infants and pregnant women can receive care in the same location.

The Buffalo Gynecologic and Obstetric Society has unanimously passed a resolution criticizing CGF's decision to stop delivering babies in Buffalo General Hospital by the end of the year and temporarily concentrate downtown maternity services in Children's Hospital.

The physicians say medical services for pregnant women and infants are best provided in the same hospital, not in two institutions miles apart.

"Ideally, you want these services in one place. That's the way it is done in most major cities in the country," said Dr. Kenneth R. Kahn, president of the society.

The society, with about 135 members, represents most of the obstetricians and gynecologists in the community. Kahn said the resolution aims to keep pressure on CGF to fulfill its stated goal of finding a better solution.

"We're fearful that, over time, the status quo will be maintained," he said. "We want people to know that, in our opinion, this is a stop-gap measure."

Unlike many large cities, Buffalo does not have one major university-affiliated medical center where new doctors are trained and many of the most sophisticated services are offered. Instead, doctor-training and key medical services developed among a handful of independent hospitals.

Children's became the regional center providing intensive care for newborns. But, unlike most children's hospitals, it did not routinely take care of adult women. Pregnant women with serious problems have been transferred and cared for elsewhere.

Hospital mergers, however, are changing the region's medical system. This year, Buffalo General, Children's and Millard Fillmore Gates and Suburban hospitals banded together to form CGF.

CGF officials said consolidating downtown maternity services, a move they expected would save $1.7 million a year, makes sense. But no plan was perfect.

Placing maternity services in Children's would satisfy pediatricians but not the gynecologists and obstetricians who care for pregnant women.

Children's will use a staff of subspecialists in medicine and pediatrics to care for routine adult medical problems. But Kahn said Children's lacks surgeons and anesthesiologists specifically trained in adult care.

"Adults are not big kids. Their medical needs are different," said Kahn, a member of University Gynecologists and Obstetricians.

Consolidating services in Buffalo General would bring infant and women's services under one roof. But it would mean abandoning a new intensive care unit at Children's and recreating it elsewhere at great expense.

Pediatricians also oppose incorporating Children's into Buffalo General, preferring a separate facility, Kahn said. But such a consolidation would have come while the state designation of Children's as a regional perinatal center was up for renewal, and CGF officials said they did not want to risk losing the designation while services were transferred to another hospital.

"We had to weigh where best to provide services for now," said Dr. Andras J. Vari, CGF vice president of medical affairs. "Reasonable people can disagree with what we've done. There is a difference of opinion on this."

He said CGF has set a two-year deadline for planning a unified medical center for women and infants. He said a separate facility adjacent to Buffalo General on High Street has been discussed, but no firm proposals have been made.

The Gynecologic and Obstetric Society decided against favoring a site for women's and infant health care because many of its members work in hospitals in the Catholic Health System. Instead, its resolution stresses the need for transferring maternity and gynecology services from Children's to a general hospital.

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