Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Today's milestone for the community

At 4:48 p.m. today, Dr. John McCabe and I signed the final documents, completing the sale of Community General Hospital to SUNY Upstate Medical University, effective 12:01 a.m. tomorrow.

This is a milestone for health care in Central New York. This allows our hospital to continue its service to the community under the aegis of Upstate. This allows the physicians on the medical staff to continue serving their patients at the Community General campus. This keeps most employees in jobs and brings the significant potential of a larger hospital and the academic world.

This helps our hospital prepare for the many changes coming from health care reform, as well as from the challenging demographics and economy.

Achieving this milestone has taken the hard and conscientious work of many, including and especially Dr. David Smith, University's President, Dr. John McCabe, University Hospital's President, and their highly capable staffs.

Community General's board of directors has consistently kept in mind the best interests of patients and the community-at-large, as well as the hospital's stakeholders.

My thanks to Steve Infanti, our board chair, for the past nine years of his leadership (and for many more years, before that). I thank John Hession, Chet Amond, Jim Getman, and all our board members, including the physicians whose participation has been invaluable.

The State Health Department worked diligently to review Upstate's certificate of need application, including the detailed due diligence that was completed within the Department's otherwise demanding agenda from across the state. In fact, all divisions of government, including the Governor's staff, the State University of New York, the Department of Budget, the Attorney General, and the State Controller worked carefully and in a focused way to approve the complex transaction.

I would like to acknowledge the many elected officials who supported the Upstate-community combination, and I specifically reference State Senator John DeFrancisco, whose work was personal and unflagging on behalf of the acquisition. County Executive Joanie Mahoney also was very helpful.

Excellus, the area's largest health insurer, has worked for this moment for more than a dozen years by sponsoring community studies and by encouraging hospitals such as Community General to work toward a well-planned consolidation. My special thanks goes to David Klein, Chairman of the Lifetime Healthcare Companies (the parent company of Excellus) and to Chris Booth, CEO of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield of CNY.

I salute Community's employees who, despite worry, uncertainty, and distractions, always understood our hospital's unique role in the community and the importance of our continued caring. Finally, Community's management team deserves laurels for staying the course, for working hard in support of the combination, and for keeping the focus on patient services and quality throughout the complex process.

As I wrote recently to the board, there have been many instances of heroism and stamina in bringing the Upstate-Community combination to fruition. Too many, in fact, to recount, and so many, I do not know all of them.

In recent weeks many have expressed appreciation to me for Upstate's support and for the honorable way Upstate has worked with Community General and its employees. Such expressions have meant a lot to me, especially the kind words from individual employees and from patients and families.

To all who made this possible, thank you and congratulations. My best wishes to you, to Upstate, and to the community that is the ultimate beneficiary of this milestone.

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