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BREAST CENTER WILL BENEFIT REGION

I would like to respond to The News editorial that suggested the creation of a Breast Center at Children's Hospital is an unneeded duplication of services. My new association with Kaleida Health is not a duplication of services but rather an integration of a private practice into a partnership with a hospital system.

I have been a partner in a private practice of breast care that has grown to attract patients from outside of Western New York.

While I have worked in both hospital systems, I concentrated my practice at Sisters Hospital because I was chief of surgery there for the past 15 years. It became obvious to me that there was a need to improve the services we provide to women with proven or suspected breast cancer.

I approached Kaleida officials with the concept and they were willing to give me the opportunity to develop the program.

Although it is true that there are too many beds in Western New York, breast care is not a high-tech service requiring expensive equipment and prolonged hospital stays. A high percentage of breast cancer care does not even require hospital admission.

Quality breast care needs to be provided in both hospital systems as well as in Erie County Medical Center and Roswell Park. Merging my private practice with a hospital system will help ensure comprehensive care by a team of private practitioners and hospital-based specialists.

The merger should facilitate a collaboration with Roswell Park so that patients can be entered into clinical trials. Interacting with Roswell Park and the new Bioinformatics Center is a great opportunity for clinical research.

The Catholic Health System will continue to provide quality breast care. The opportunity given me by Kaleida, however, is exactly what this community needs more of -- a collaboration among private practitioners, academics and research facilities.

With this particular project, the real benefactors will be the women of this community. If this also helps us preserve a freestanding Children's Hospital, then it is an added benefit and deserves our support.

KENNETH H. ECKHERT JR., M.D.

Breast Health Associates
Williamsville

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