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ECMC, Kaleida oversight group adopts Great Lakes Health name

The group overseeing the consolidation of Kaleida Health and Erie County Medical Center has a new name -- Great Lakes Health System of Western New York.

It is hoped that the new name -- and a new logo -- will eventually replace the current hospitals' names, although the existing names will continue to be used for the time being, officials said.

"Great Lakes Health reflects a sense of newness and a vision that's tied to the community but bigger than Buffalo. It's clean and easy to say, and doesn't sound made up," said James Kaskie, chief executive officer of Kaleida Health and Great Lakes Health.

A state commission ordered ECMC and Kaleida Health to form a unified, nonpublic governance structure that included the University at Buffalo.

In an arrangement completed in June, the hospitals will remain separate. But the unified governing board -- with representatives from ECMC, UB, Kaleida Health and the community -- has authority over major decisions.

Up to this point, the new governing group has referred to itself as NewCo or Western New York Health System.

The plan is to fully merge the hospitals. However, a true merger requires new labor agreements at ECMC and state legislation to remove the public-benefit corporation that controls ECMC, a legal action needed to allow the facility to merge with a private hospital.

If a merger is accomplished, officials said, Great Lakes Health will serve as the name of the unified organization.

"For now, the work of the Great Lakes Health board is to plot the road map to build a health system," Kaskie said.

The parent board brought in Stand Advertising of Getzville to help identify a new name and test market it with physicians and consumers. Rejected finalists included Health One and Generation Health. Others that didn't make the final cut included Lake Erie Health and Unity Health, an official said.

Kaskie and others said the process of finding a new name also helped repair damaged relations between officials at ECMC and Kaleida Health after months of acrimonious consolidation talks.

"Both organizations are working very well together and have begun to build a very productive relationship," Jody Lomeo, interim chief executive officer of the medical center, said in a statement.

In other matters, the newly named Great Lakes Health and its professional committee of doctor and nurse representatives have moved forward with an examination of how best to integrate four medical services: intensive care, organ transplantation, psychiatry and orthopedics.

It is also expected that a construction manager will be named within the next few weeks for a proposed $150 million center for heart and vascular care on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus next to Buffalo General Hospital. Officials said they hope to start construction in the spring of 2009.

e-mail: hdavis@buffnews.com

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