Great Lakes Health Receives $15 Million for Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Care

Released: 6/18/2012

New facility on ECMC Health Campus consolidates services


Great Lakes Health today announced that New York’s Health Department approved a $15 million grant to help Erie County Medical Center and Kaleida Health consolidate mental health and drug dependency treatment in one, $25 million Regional Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at ECMC.

The new center, announced as a concept February 13, 2012, is a physician-driven collaboration between ECMC and Kaleida Health. It will create a state-of-the-art, comprehensive psychiatric emergency program and new inpatient facilities to serve mental health patients in the Western New York community. 

“The HEAL-NY grant will help us create a Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health on the ECMC Health Campus, create a new and improved facility for the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP), and continue our collaborative relationship for the good of our patients,” said Kaleida Health president and CEO James R. Kaskie. “Collaboration creates synergies and synergies get things done.  This is another tangible example of leveraging the talents, infrastructure, clinical expertise of both ECMC and Kaleida to benefit our community and the patients we serve.”

The consolidated model will combine the resources of the ECMC and Buffalo General Medical Center behavioral health programs and will create one, 180-bed inpatient psychiatric program. It will also continue ECMC’s current 22 detoxification beds and 20 inpatient chemical dependency rehabilitation beds.

The plan also calls for continuing ECMC’s and Kaleida Health’s Main Street outpatient clinics, along with clinics in Lancaster and North Buffalo. The state’s Healthcare Efficiency and Affordability Law-21 [HEAL-NY] funding significantly moves the project forward.

ECMC Corp. and Kaleida Health will fund the remaining $10 million. The new center, planned to open in March 2014, would expand ECMC’s current emergency behavioral health facilities from 6,500 square feet to 16,000 square feet.

“This center provides an opportunity to develop better quality, consolidated programs of emergency, outpatient, and inpatient services with one focus: the patients,” said ECMC CEO Jody L. Lomeo. “It will be state of the art, and will deliver the care the mentally ill in our community deserve. That care will improve by having all our collective expert physicians and staff in one place and this is another example of the success of Great Lakes Health.”

Mental health care in Western New York, like the rest of the state, is fragmented and costly to the state’s Medicaid payment system. In the last 20 years, the Buffalo Psychiatric Center went from 1,200 beds to 160, and the Gowanda Psychiatric and West Seneca Developmental centers closed.

Other inpatient facilities downsized or closed in recent years, and while outpatient services exist, there is a lack of coordination among community providers. Psychiatrists are also in short supply throughout the region.

This combination of factors created a crisis for mental health patients and their families in Western New York. Mentally ill and chemically dependent patients in crisis are, many times, forced to find care in crowded hospital emergency rooms, which leads to more costly episodic inpatient care and unsafe conditions for clinical staff.

Yogesh Bakhai, M.D., ECMC Clinical Director of Psychiatry, and Maria Cartegena, M.D., medical director, Buffalo General's Department of Inpatient Behavioral Health & Psychiatry, will lead this initiative.

“The region has needed a Center of Excellence in Behavioral Health for years,” said Dr. Bakhai. “Not only do we need to expand our facilities to meet the growing demand, we need to bring together the talents of the region to focus on creating a better model for our patients.”

“This project is solely about the needs of patients,” said Dr. Cartagena. “We recognize that creating exceptional quality care for our patients is not necessarily about a particular location, but about the dedication and expertise of the treatment team.  As a regional center for psychiatric care, ECMC has the facility and the room to expand our comprehensive services. Additionally, this would allow us to bring the expertise of our physicians and staff together with ECMC's experienced physicians and staff to create a true collaborative effort. The development of a center of excellence in psychiatry would most definitely improve the quality of care for behavioral health patients for generations to come.”

The integrated model will combine the current outpatient volumes of 44,300 annual visits at ECMC and Kaleida’s 68,829 annual visits with services provided onsite at ECMC and at their community-based locations.

Currently, ECMC has 132 licensed inpatient psychiatric beds with 2,297 annual discharges in 2011 and 57 inpatient rehabilitation/detoxification beds with 1,621 discharges in 2011. Buffalo General Medical Center has 91 licensed inpatient beds with 2,307 annual discharges.

This consolidation represents the third major initiative of Great Lakes Health System to merge the services of ECMC and Kaleida Health. The first created the Gates Vascular Institute on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in collaboration with the University at Buffalo with the second being the Regional Center of Excellence for Transplantation & Kidney Care on ECMC’s campus, both HEAL-funded initiatives to restructure and right size the region’s health care.