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Maziarz urges state audit of ECMC

New York State should audit Erie County Medical Center's finances to make sure the hospital is a financially stable merger partner, State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, said Thursday.

Maziarz said ECMC's plans for a suburban surgery center, concerns over the future of School 84 and its proposal to build a center for heart procedures could complicate merger negotiations between the medical center and Kaleida Health.

The state's Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century -- also known as the Berger Commission -- made a Kaleida-ECMC consolidation a key recommendation in a package that became law at the end of 2006.

"These things will do nothing but drive up costs for the new entity. Are they real plans, negotiating ploys, or both?" Maziarz asked.

Michael A. Young, chief executive officer of ECMC, described the public medical center as "an open book" as far as an audit is concerned but urged that any examination be expanded to include all hospitals in Erie and Niagara counties, with performance criteria added.

"That way, all our patients can get a baseline for how hospitals in this region function and how they might improve, ECMC included," he said.

Young said that decisions behind the projects cited by Maziarz were made before the commission recommendations and that ECMC, despite some reports, does not have a role in whether a new School 84 is built at the ECMC campus. Moreover, he said, plans for the surgery center were put on hold during merger talks.

e-mail: hdavis@buffnews.com

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