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COMMITTEE IS DEDICATED TO SAVING CHILDREN'S

As an official of the Children's Hospital Steering Committee, I believe the First Sunday article "Saving Children's Hospital" contained several inaccurate statements and was not balanced.

Our group of 26 volunteers - which includes Children's Hospital physicians, community physicians who use the hospital, parents and other children's advocates - was commissioned last September by the Kaleida Health Board. We recognize the importance of Children's to this community, and are committed to saving the hospital. The board has charged us with the following:

To determine the feasibility of a new Children's Hospital that is free-standing - not built within Buffalo General - and is a full-service facility designed to provide children and families with a full spectrum of care including inpatient, outpatient, rehabilitation and other specialty services. Children, families, doctors and other health professionals are and will be involved throughout the design process.

To fully explore and determine the best possible reuse of the Bryant Street campus.

To oversee the planning and implementation of critical improvements that are required now in the neonatal intensive care unit and emergency department at Children's.

To fulfill our vision of a unified setting on High Street as part of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where gynecologists, obstetricians and pediatric and adult specialists can capitalize on the latest technology to deliver the highest quality care to women, infants and children.

As an integral part of a nationally recognized medical center, the new Children's Health Center will be able to retain and attract outstanding physicians, clinicians and researchers. It is important to note that many Children's and community pediatricians favor construction of a new hospital, because they recognize the limitations of the aging, outdated facilities. The many disconnected buildings make it difficult to coordinate care.

Western New York's OB/GYN physicians also support the relocation and cite the importance of convenient access to both pediatric and adult services during pregnancy and delivery. Further, many other pediatricians favor the committee's deliberate fact-based process of creating a new vision, developing options and determining the feasibility of those options, regardless of the outcome. It would have been interesting to have heard from these groups in the story.

The Steering Committee is acting very deliberately to assess, plan and ensure Children's viability and mission for the future of our community. We have a 24-month work plan that addresses every issue that has been identified, and we will tackle any new issues, subject to our mission, that arise.

Our biggest challenge will be to obtain the necessary funding, but that challenge is the same whether we renovate the existing hospital or build a new one. We invite anyone interested in this project to log onto the hospital's Web site at www.chob.edu and/or attend community meetings, which will be an important component of our ongoing communication efforts.

At this very preliminary stage of planning, there appears to be sufficient space to build a new, free-standing, full-service hospital on High. As we continue, this concept will be examined and refined. What is most important now is to ascertain from our health care professionals and our patients what services should be included at the new site, and how our professionals want to deliver health care.

We can take advantage of a new beginning and apply state-of-the-art processes, practices and technologies in a customized environment. We respectfully request everyone's support, including The News', to do what is best for the entire community.

ANN BADDING is chairwoman of the Children's Hospital Steering Committee.

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