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URMC to buy Lakeside Hospital building, other assets

Rochester Business Journal
June 18, 2013

The University of Rochester Medical Center has struck a deal with Lakeside Health System and First Niagara Financial Group Inc., the bank holding Lakeside’s debt, to buy the recently closed Lakeside Hospital building and other Lakeside assets, URMC officials said Tuesday.

The former Brockport hospital, to be known as Strong West, is planned to operate initially as an urgent care center and physician offices under Strong Memorial Hospital’s license. The urgent care center will be supported by laboratory, radiology and pharmacy services.

Financial pressures forced Lakeside, which stated its total debt at some $25 million, to close its 61-bed hospital in April. A deal the health systems hoped to negotiate with the state Department of Health to keep the hospital’s emergency department open did not come to fruition.

A key issue, Lakeside chairwoman Nancy Plews said, was some $5 million the Brockport health system lacked to manage the transition

Strong West will be a model for new ways of health care delivery as more similarly stressed small, outlying community hospitals come under the wing of large health systems with many of the small hospitals converting to urgent care centers or freestanding emergency departments, URMC CEO Bradford Berk M.D. said.  

URMC hopes as soon as possible to set up a freestanding emergency department on the Lakeside campus, Berk said. No target date has been set but the medical center expects to provide emergency medical services in Brockport soon.

No state approvals are needed for URMC to run an urgent care center under Strong Memorial’s license but the state’s OK will be needed to convert the center to an emergency department. Berk said URMC expects to have an urgent care center operating in Brockport two to three months after the sale closes and hopes to have an emergency department there as soon as possible after that.      

No definite date is set to finalize the deal, Berk said. Details, including the price and whether URMC entirely will pay off the roughly $5.8 million Lakeside owes the bank are being worked out.

Under a deal struck between URMC and Lakeside some three years ago, URMC has been supplying services, including specialist clinics, to Lakeside. It plans to continue offering the outpatient urology, orthopedic and cardiology services it has been running at Lakeside and is in talks with several Brockport-area specialists about adding other specialists, Berk said.

Also planned to be included in the acquisition are Lakeside’s Spencerport urgent care center and primary care practices in Brockport and LeRoy. Vladimir Gaspar M.D. of LeRoy, Genesee County, and Didem Miraloglu M.D. of Brockport are slated to join URMC’s medical faculty group.  

URMC expects to hire approximately 30 staffers to man the urgent care center and could hire as many as 90 more if the state approves a plan to upgrade the facility to a freestanding emergency department, Berk said. Workers laid off in the Lakeside Hospital closing would be considered for positions.

Rochester General Health System and Unity Health System informally had scouted the Lakeside assets but had not made formal proposals, Plews said.

RGHS and Unity, both located on Monroe County’s west side, are in the early stages of planning a merger.
 
URMC would look for a way to maintain the foothold on the county’s west side it had gained with the Lakeside agreement inked three years ago, Steven Goldstein, Strong Memorial and Highland Hospital CEO, told the Rochester Business Journal in April.   

If URMC sets up an emergency department in Brockport, patients who do not specifically ask to be treated elsewhere would go to URMC’s Strong Memorial or Highland hospitals.

“We wish URMC the best as it re-institutes some clinical programs on the Lakeside Hospital campus to serve the Brockport community,” RGHS CEO Mark Clement said in a statement. “In the face of health care reform, mergers and acquisitions among health care providers will continue, as systems strive to address patients’ needs while making care more affordable.”

Local officials and SUNY College at Brockport praised the URMC acquisition as ensuring continuation of needed services they feared had been lost with the Brockport hospital’s demise.

“We in the village (as a resident), and at the village of Brockport were saddened by the loss to the community that cannot possibly be measured. From the obvious health care issues to the people displaced in the workplace, to our friends and neighbors, (the) emotional toll it has taken is indescribable,” Brockport Mayor Maria Castaneda said.

SUNY Brockport president John Halstead said, “I applaud the Lakeside board and URMC in coming together and creating a plan that invests in and supports the Brockport community.”

The college is anxious to see emergency department services restored, said Libby Caruso, director of its health services. Since Lakeside’s shutdown, students who need emergency treatment have been transported to the Unity Hospital emergency department in Greece by cab or ambulance, adding 15 to 20 minutes to the time needed to reach the Lakeside campus.
 
“We’ve developed a good relationship with Unity’s emergency department,” Caruso said.

Still, she added, the college would far prefer an emergency department closer to home.

Posted at 11 a.m.; updated at 3:20 p.m.(c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail service@rbj.net.


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