Mount St. Mary's, Niagara Falls Memorial Agree to Collaborate on Certain Services

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 2, 2007) – Mount St. Mary's Hospital and Health Center and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center have agreed to work together on some shared services, thereby complying with the mandates of the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, also known as the Berger Commission.

While maintaining their independent identities, the two hospitals have agreed to collaborate on some services, including joint recruitment of specialty physicians, infection control efforts, development of electronic medical records, and the creation of a jointly owned ambulatory care center.

"These two hospitals are to be commended for responding in a constructive manner to the Berger Commission mandates," said state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "Duplication of medical services has wasted limited resources in Niagara County and created competition between the two hospitals. However, based on the charge they were given by the Commission, they are working collaboratively toward the Commission's goal to build a stronger, fairer, more affordable health care system that meets the need of the community."

The Commission recommendations, which became law in January, required that Mount St. Mary's and Niagara Falls Memorial participate in discussions supervised by the Commissioner of Health to explore the creation of a single unified governance structure to end the medical arms race in Niagara County that is expending resources on duplicative services.

State Health Department staff actively supervised the discussions during the past nine months. At the Department's suggestion, the hospitals also retained a mediator to help determine whether the barriers to single unified governance structure could be overcome. The talks concluded that irreconcilable differences in women's health services and corporate control made a unified governance structure impossible.

The Commissioner has determined that these discussions were made in good faith. If the Commissioner had determined that either facility had failed to participate in discussions in good faith, the Commission gave him the authority to close that facility and expand the other to accommodate the patient volume of the closed facility.