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2020 Commission Supports Modernization Plans at Three Monroe County Hospitals, With 140 Additional Beds

More than 750 current beds would be in new or renovated rooms; Unity and

Lakeside urged to combine in serving West-side patients

ROCHESTER, N.Y., June 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The state should support plans for three Monroe County hospitals to modernize and approve an additional 140 beds -- more than 50 of which could be available this year to address "Code Red" overcrowding -- according to a commission convened by Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency.

The Community Health System 2020 Commission recommendations would mean that more than 750 other hospital beds would be in new or renovated hospital rooms, as part of a comprehensive plan to ensure a high-performance health system for the six-county Greater Rochester community.

The University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester General Hospital, and Unity Hospital, each submitted Certificate of Need requests to the state health department within the past nine months. The CON applications requested approval to expand facilities and add a total of 278 additional beds.

FLHSA created the 2020 Commission -- a group of 18 community leaders with expertise in health care -- to help assess the proposals from a community perspective and develop its recommendations to the state.

The state department of health, which must give approval before any hospital expansion can proceed, has scheduled a review meeting for Oct. 2 to review recommendations on all three proposals. In a letter informing the three Rochester CON applicants that their proposals would be reviewed together, Neil Benjamin -- director of health facility planning for DOH -- said, "Our review and assessment of bed need and community health needs will be informed by the Finger Lakes Health System Agency's 2020 Commission."

After five months of reviewing the proposals with hospital system leaders and meeting with other stakeholders, the Commission today voted to recommend:

-- The addition of 140 newly licensed or recertified hospital beds across the three hospitals, which will be fully in place by the year 2012.

-- Modernization at all three hospital facilities -- including the PRISM project at Strong, a new tower with patient rooms at RGH, and a large-scale renovation at Unity Hospital. Collectively more than 750 current beds will be in new or renovated rooms.

-- A strategy to better serve West-side Monroe County patients through formal affiliation between Unity and Lakeside hospitals.

-- Maintaining a multi-county delivery system by encouraging links between Monroe County hospitals and community hospitals in outlying counties.

-- New programs and collaborations to reduce Code Red and disparities in care between different populations.

"Through the 2020 Commission, our community is making well-informed recommendations to modernize our three largest hospitals," said Stephen B. Ashley, 2020 Commission chair, and Chairman and CEO of The Ashley Group.

Commission Vice Chair Leonard E. Redon, who is vice president of western operations for Paychex Inc., said the vote should not be seen as a finding of fault with any of the hospital requests. "From the perspective of each institution, all three of these proposals make a great deal of sense," Redon said. "Viewed through a community lens, they would add more hospital capacity than we need at this point. The Commission's proposal allows each hospital to grow and modernize at a pace that makes sense for the institutions and the community, with space to add capacity later if needed."

Fran Weisberg, Executive Director of FLHSA, said the community is fortunate to have so many knowledgeable and experienced community leaders willing to devote their time to the 2020 Commission. "With the support of our expert analysts, these commissioners have taken three separate proposals and created a comprehensive community solution," Weisberg said. "This was a unique opportunity because the state has never before reviewed multiple CON requests as a group. Our community has seized the opportunity through a process that was analytical, collaborative, and open to the public."

Weisberg said that state health department officials have been enthusiastic about the Commission process and may recommend it as a state-wide model. She also noted that the recommendation for 140 additional beds was in line with the earlier recommendations of FLHSA's Acute Bed Need Taskforce.

Community Investment

FLHSA's 2020 Commission is also promoting collaboration between the three major hospital systems and the NYSDOH, Excellus, Preferred Care, FLHSA, the Monroe County Medical Society, and other community-based health organizations to work together to develop and maintain a sustainable multi-county health services delivery system and join forces on programs to address health disparities in the community.

Assessment and Results

The Commission's proposal projects that the health improvement initiatives can decrease unnecessary visits to emergency rooms by 15 percent, decrease hospital admissions that could be managed through outpatient visits by 25 percent, and decrease by 20 percent low-acuity admissions by out-of-county residents in Monroe County Hospitals that could be served in outlying community hospitals.

According to Marc Voyvodich, chairman and CEO of Stroudwater Associates, the national health care consulting firm employed by the Commission, these initiatives are attainable. "These requirements are not pie-in-the-sky ideas; they are very realistic goals that can be achieved. We have seen other communities across the country achieve great success at improving quality and efficiency of the health system through similar initiatives."

The Commission proposes continual monitoring of bed need and recommended system improvements. If the system improvements are taking place and demand for hospital space is higher than projected today, each of the three Monroe County hospital systems will be positioned to quickly add beds as needed.

The Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency is charged by the 2020 Commission with convening stakeholders and developing objectives, plans, and measurement strategies to assess the community investment recommendations.

Next Steps

Under FLHSA's statutory authority, the state DOH will consider the 2020 Commission's findings as it reviews the batched CON applications from Rochester General Hospital, Strong Memorial Hospital and Unity Hospital.

The 2020 Commission's recommendations will be included in a final report that will be developed over the summer. The report will be sent to New York State Department of Health on September 1, 2008. The Project Review Committee of the State Hospital Review and Planning Council (SHRPC) will review the CON applications at its September 18, 2008 meeting, and the state DOH will present its findings to the State Hospital Review and Planning Council on October 2, 2008.


FLHSA ( is an independent, regional health planning organization that promotes healthier communities by bringing stakeholders together to solve community health problems, educating people about how to make better healthcare decisions and enabling people to participate in a less-restrictive healthcare environment. The agency serves the nine counties of Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates.

SOURCE Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency
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