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I cannot possibly be the only person who recalls the full-page ad prepared by the Giambra camp that appeared in The News on Oct. 31, 1999. In comparing both county executive candidates, Joel Giambra strongly supported Erie County Medical Center, promising not to privatize it. He can say what he wants about a public benefit corporation not being privatization, but it is.

Justifying the formation of a public benefit corporation based upon Roswell Park and the Westchester Medical Center is like comparing apples and oranges. Roswell Park is a research facility that provides one very specific service to a very specific patient population. Westchester County cannot be compared to Erie County, and the hospital itself is twice the size of ECMC and houses both the cancer institute for that county and its pediatric facility.

Compared with the financial difficulties being faced by other hospital systems in Western New York, ECMC is doing much better financially than anyone else.

The other hospital systems have the ability to enter into the very business ventures that are being glamorized for ECMC, should it become a public benefit corporation. If other hospitals are already doing that which ECMC presently cannot do, why are they having problems? Why have only 50 percent of public hospitals in the country taken this route if it is the only answer to financial problems? Why is the Nassau Medical Center a disaster?

It is time for the community to stop acting as if it does not know or care that ECMC is there for all of us. ECMC is the only thing between the working poor, the desperately ill and the street. The immuno-compromised, the addicted, the mentally ill, the elderly, the abused, crime victims, accident victims are all taken care of.

Let's demand that the tobacco settlement money be used on the hospital and that all options be truly explored rather than rushing into something as drastic as a public benefit corporation, which has the potential of destroying ECMC and this community.


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