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WE MUST UPGRADE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL NOW

Kaleida Health should put on permanent hold any further consideration of closing Children's Hospital on Bryant Street and constructing a new pediatric hospital on High Street in eight to 10 years. The timing for this proposal could not be worse.

John Friedlander, chief executive officer of Kaleida, urges a new High Street facility. In the Dec. 16 News, he correctly points out that there is an arms race in pediatric services and if we do not get into it, we will be out of luck.

He sees hospitals in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Rochester stealing what should be our patients and expresses a real sense of urgency to prevent this highly regarded hospital from further languishing. I am a member of the board of Women and Children's Health Research Foundation of Children's Hospital. There is a real crisis -- but the answer is not to open a new hospital in the future.

Instead, Kaleida must upgrade the current facility now to keep it within the ranks of one of the best children's hospitals in the world. This will require a substantial monetary commitment by Kaleida.

Virtually all hospitals nationwide are experiencing the same type of cash crunch as Kaleida.

It is unrealistic to think that Kaleida will devote significant new funds to the Bryant Street facility if, at the same time, it is anticipating its demise. It simply won't happen.

What is more likely to happen is further uncertainty and instability at the hospital by holding back on needed enhancements. This will augment the flight from Buffalo of doctors and key staff personnel to more stable environments.

The choice is clear: Keep Children's competitive now or let it continue to languish and basically start from scratch with a new facility in eight to 10 years.

Wouldn't it be a shame if, after permitting Children's prestige to continue to languish, Kaleida finds that it simply cannot raise the megabucks necessary to build the new facility?

ALLAN R. LIPMAN

Williamsville

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