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BlueCross BlueShield donates $1 million for new ECMC emergency room

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York announced a $1 million donation today for Erie County Medical Center’s project to build a new emergency department/trauma center on its Grider Street campus.

David W. Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the health insurer, said the contribution was made on behalf of the company's members, and focused on the need to expand behavioral health and detoxification services.

"We were particularly impressed with ECMC’s commitment to expand and enhance care pathways as part of their planned trauma center/emergency department expansion,” Anderson said in a prepared statement. “The opioid epidemic, as well as an increased awareness of the need for timely and responsive care for depression and other mental health diagnoses, aligns well with ECMC’s plans, and the focus and mission of BlueCross BlueShield.”

A capital campaign so far has raised more than $9 million toward the project’s $55 million cost. It includes three other $1 million donations – from the Russell J. Salvatore Foundation, the John R. Oishei Foundation, and the Seneca Diabetes Foundation – as well as a $600,000 donation from KeyBank.

Plans call for a 54,000-square-foot facility on the west side of the Medical Center with 54 treatment stations – including four dedicated trauma rooms, two behavioral health safe rooms, two isolation rooms and four medical resuscitation rooms. That’s compared to the current 26,000 square feet, 32 emergency stations and four trauma rooms. The exiting facilities will be relocated into the new facility when it opens, the hospital said.

ECMC recorded 69,290 visits to the emergency department in 2016, roughly double the number since the last significant emergency room renovation in the late 1990s, according to the hospital.

Total visits in 2016 included 12,247 patients routed to the hospital’s regional Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program. ECMC also operates the region’s adult Level 1 trauma center.

The new facility will stand on ground level near the current emergency department’s ambulance ramp. Site work is under way in preparation for construction later this year. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

ECMC  President and CEO Thomas J. Quatroche Jr. said its behavioral health and detoxification services  "often are connected directly to the hospital’s planned expansion of our Trauma Center/Emergency Department.

"The design of the new ED will create dedicated space for these patients, separate and apart from the medical treatment area,” he said.

ECMC noted that it is the only Buffalo-area hospital that offers a psychiatrist in the emergency room and chemical-dependency evaluations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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