Saturday, April 30, 2011

"The changes we're facing . . . '

Earlier this week the Post-Standard published a letter to the editor from three nurses who work in the ICU at Community General Hospital.

Their letter noted that, among the public comments on Upstate's acquisition of Community, many have been by representatives of a labor union.

Most employees, said the writers, "understand that. . . the changes we’re facing are in the best interest of our patients, the community and the employees."

Despite some unanswered questions, they acknowledged "the management teams of both CGH and Upstate . . . have shown a good faith effort in keeping everybody informed."

These nurses have worked at Community between eight and 21 years, each. I thank them for taking the time to voice their opinion.

Monday, April 25, 2011

From the Board Chairman

This letter from Steven Infanti, Sr., appears today in the Post-Standard.

Much has been written about Upstate Medical University’s planned acquisition of Community General Hospital. This combination will have significant benefits for our community and our region.

Health care is changing — not gradually, but rapidly. Cost pressures, changes in physician practices and progressive changes in Medicare and Medicaid all make it increasingly difficult for smaller, stand-alone hospitals to continue their services.

However, there also exist opportunities for doctors and hospitals to work together in new ways and in new structures to improve health care services and quality.

As part of Upstate, Community General Hospital will be in a larger, better positioned health care system. Upstate has a regional mission, one that becomes more important as health care reforms are realized. Today, Upstate is operating at essentially full capacity, and it needs to expand.

Community General Hospital has available capacity, and it brings to the table a strong reputation, a history of service and a 42-acre health care campus in which our community has already invested.

Upstate’s acquisition of Community General will make the best use of existing health care resources and will provide a cost-effective means for Upstate to grow clinical services and develop its teaching role.

Together the combination will be more than the sum of its parts.

● It solves two problems with one cost-effective stroke. Upstate’s capacity limitations will be solved and increased patient volume at Community General will improve overall financial performance.

● The cost of services at Community General’s campus will be spread over a larger base of operations. This will, over time, achieve efficiencies not possible as a stand-alone hospital.

● Community General’s 1,100 employees will be maintained substantially intact, preserving jobs and providing Upstate with a skilled workforce, already in place.

● Changes in Upstate’s medical staff bylaws accommodate the private medical practices that depend upon, and support, Community General Hospital. And Upstate’s stronger clinical platform will broaden specialty services for patients using the Community General campus.

● The Community General campus will maintain a broad complement of services, including emergency, acute care and outpatient care, continuing access for residents of its primary service area.

● This transaction is right for patients, for doctors and for employees. Most importantly, it is right for residents in and around Central New York.

Community’s board of directors has carefully planned this strategic affiliation. We have used independent consultants, and we have spent countless hours in study and consideration, including the examination of different scenarios about how best to serve the community.

Having analyzed the facts, we feel, unanimously, that the combination of Community General Hospital with Upstate Medical University is the right decision for Syracuse and Central New York.

-- Steven J. Infanti Sr. is chair of Community General Hospital’s board of directors.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our new name will honor our past

When employees of General Hospital of Greater Syracuse joined the then-new Community Hospital in November 1964, the new hospital changed its name. It became Community-General Hospital of Greater Syracuse.

The name is used today without a hyphen, but the link to General Hospital was important for many. It recognized their association with a caring institution that served the community for 69 years.

Leonard Markert, Sr., a long-time community leader and a past director of Community General Hospital, once spoke earnestly to me about the linkage. "Don't forget," he said, "where we come from."

Upstate has talked about Community General's tradition of caring, even as our campus becomes part of SUNY Upstate University Hospital -- a single hospital with two campuses, as described in the Certificate of Need application.

Upstate has considered several versions of the Community General name. As we anticipate the closing of this transaction on or about July 1, the name "Upstate University Hospital at Community General" recognizes the new role of this campus, as well as "where we come from."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

95% have applied

I am pleased to report that Upstate has received applications from more than 95% of those eligible to apply.

Thank you, all!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

78% have applied so far

In the first 11 days of sign-up, 78% of Community General Hospital employees have made applications to SUNY Upstate Medical University.

The applications are a necessary step for employees to continue their jobs at the Community General hospital campus once Upstate completes its acquisition of Community in mid-year.

Benefit infomation sessions continue at Community for the next two weeks.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Upstate-Community provides economic boost

Syracuse is poised to build on this robust eds and meds economy, with an opportunity to create a powerhouse academic medical center through Upstate Medical University acquiring Community General Hospital.

So writes Dr. Wlliam Eimicke in today's Post-Standard. You can read the full op-ed article here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"How excited I am . . . "

Yesterday, the Human Resources staff from Upstate University Hospital began a series of 24 meetings at Community General during April.

They are explaining the Upstate benefits and answering questions about working for Upstate. I attended the first two sessions yesterday and found the Upstate people friendly and very capable. My Community colleagues were engaged and asked good questions.

This morning, one of the employees who attended yesterday’s sessions wrote me:

My e-mail is to state just how excited I am for this new venture for me and to be part of such a large cutting edge Facility with many many opportunities for the staff at CGH.

I moved here . . . (from out-of-state) and worked in a hospital that was purchased four times. None of the owners were really interested in the hospital staff or took the time that Upstate has taken to keep the CGH staff informed.

I very much advocate for this venture and share my opinion as often as opportunity has risen . . .

The advantages Upstate brings to Community are becoming clearer day by day.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Setting the record straight

One day last week I came upon an employee reading intently a poster that displayed a recent newspaper article about the Community General Hospital pension plan.

She looked distressed, and I asked her about it.

She explained that she was very worried and didn’t know what to believe. She said she has read and has heard many things and was concerned.

I explained how, thanks to Upstate's efforts, New York State had changed the law so that, when Community's employees are offered positions with Upstate, they will be able to choose if they want to stay in the Community pension plan or switch to the state retirement plan. She was very relieved.

It's no wonder people are confused. Labor representatives have actively promoted errors and misinformation, and they have ascribed to me and to others the worst of motives.

That's why Community posted Setting the Record Straight last week.

My mother

My mother died on March 29. I have had to attend to a number of matters in addition to my responsibilities at Community. This exlains the absence of recent postings, desite so many things taking place at Community.

My mother, Elizabeth, was dear woman, much beloved by her family and all who knew her. I am grateful to all who took the time to remember her and to express their condolences. I was touched by your thoughtfulness.