October 6, 2022

A WNY merger to reduce health disparities, a $34M project in Batavia and Kaleida board changes | Business Local

Combined firm would take aim at health disparities

Two Western New York nonprofit organizations that have partnered on past initiatives are joining forces – a combination that will look to leverage a network of community-based groups and health data to take a bite out of this area’s health inequities. 

Under an agreement announced June 9, the operations of Population Health Collaborative would come under the umbrella of HEALTHeLINK, a health information exchange for Western New York, said Dan Porreca, executive director of HEALTHeLINK.

Porreca said the two organizations complement one another. While HEALTHeLINK is a collaboration among hospitals, doctors and health plans in the eight counties to securely exchange clinical information, Population Health Collaborative plays the role of the convener and facilitator of a network of more than 300 community-based organizations in Western New York.

A main focus of the combined organization will be to improve health equity and outcomes in communities with the worst health outcomes.

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Essentially, HEALTHeLINK’s data would come together with Population Health Collaborative’s longtime ability to align community stakeholders and address complex health issues.

For instance, Porreca explained, HEALTHeLINK has the data to establish a baseline, which can then be compared to future data to see if a particular community program is actually working.

“I’m really excited about the potential,” Porreca said. “That’s what really gets my juices flowing.”

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“It’s kind of obvious that if doctors have better information, they can make better decisions.” – Dan Porreca, executive director of HEALTHeLINK

When Population Health Collaborative’s executive director left several months ago, Dr. Thomas Schenk stepped in as interim executive director.

Not long after, Porreca said he and Schenk – who had previously been on HEALTHeLINK’s board – started to talk about whether it made sense to pursue a new executive director at Population Health Collaborative or to explore a merger with its longtime partner. 

The two organizations already had a history for more than decade of partnering on initiatives related to diabetes care and population health, among others. In addition, Porreca noted, the two groups have shared a physician advisory committee for the last few years.

Both boards also thought it was a good idea to examine a potential combination, Porreca said, and that eventually led to the recent announcement.

The deal, which needs state approval, should not result in any cuts, Porreca noted. 

As it stands, HEALTHeLINK has annual revenue of a little more than $12 million, along with 65 employees. He noted Population Health Collaborative’s employees will join the payroll, putting the combined organization at about 70 workers. Population Health Collaborative also had about $1.1 million in revenue in 2020, according to its most recent annual filing with the IRS. 

Porreca said the combined organization will be based at HEALTHeLINK’s headquarters in Depew.

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What: United Memorial Medical Center has plans to continue growing in Batavia beyond its main hospital site at 127 North St. UMMC, part of Rochester Regional Health (RRH), on May 31 filed a construction application with the state Health Department to build an extension clinic at 8103 Oak Orchard Road in the Town of Batavia.

Tell me more: The proposed clinic, which would cost about $34 million to build, would be known as the RRH Batavia Destination Campus and, as such, would also contain extension clinics operated by Unity Hospital of Rochester and Rochester General Hospital, other facilities under the $3 billion health system’s umbrella. But UMMC will be the primary occupant of the proposed building, with plans to use 87,739 square feet across three floors. 

Why it matters: This project, which needs state approval, represents an expansion of RRH’s ambulatory network. According to state paperwork, the extension clinic would include nine procedure rooms – two would be used for ambulatory surgery in gastroenterology, while the other seven would be used for outpatient surgical procedures. 

Aside from fitting into the trend of more care moving out of the hospital and into outpatient settings, this project also comes on the heels of competitor UR Medicine opening a 21,455-square-foot medical campus at 7995 Call Parkway in the Town of Batavia on May 16. That facility – 0.3 miles from UMMC’s proposed clinic site – operates as an outpatient clinic under UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital.


Who: Gary Crosby, the former president and CEO of First Niagara Bank, has been elected chair of Kaleida Health’s board of directors, the health system announced June 7. Crosby, who retired from KeyBank’s board in May 2021, has been on Kaleida’s board since 2017.

Predecessor: Crosby succeeds Frank Curci, CEO of the parent company of Tops Markets and Price Chopper/Market 32, whose term as Kaleida board chair expired in May. Curci had been on the board since 2012 and served as chair since 2016. “He probably doesn’t get enough credit, but Frank really led the organization through a remarkable transformation this past decade,” Kaleida CEO Bob Nesselbush said.

Other changes? Tops President and Chief Operating Officer John Persons and Thomas Beauford Jr., president and CEO of the Buffalo Urban League, were elected to the board for the first time. 


Catch up on news tied to Buffalo Niagara’s economy

Former 43North-winning housing startup Whose Your Landlord has pledged to donate $19,000 to Black-led nonprofit community organizations across the country in honor of Juneteenth.

Community advocates who want to develop a farmers market, grocery store and youth jobs incubator on Buffalo’s East Side plan to share more details about the project Tuesday at a event to commemorate the 10 people killed in the Tops massacre last month.

A restaurateur is finalizing an agreement to open Newbury Salads at LECOM Harborcenter in space formerly occupied by the Healthy Scratch. He also has plans for locations in and around Buffalo General Medical Center.

The Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund has received nearly $3 million in donations. The committee for the fund soon wants public input on rules to distribute the money.

What will Buffalo do to memorialize the May 14 massacre at the Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue and the 10 lives that were lost? Mayor Byron Brown said he and Gov. Kathy Hochul will soon announce plans for a large memorial.

Edwards Vacuum wants to construct a warehouse addition in Wheatfield, while Lockport Schools Federal Credit Union hopes to build a new headquarters office in the City of Lockport, if the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency approves tax breaks next month.


Five reads from Buffalo Next:

1. Nursing homes can’t retain caregivers. Could career ladder programs be a solution?: Perhaps paid training programs, which help employees advance their careers, make more money and provide better care, can help chip away at the staffing crisis in the nursing home industry.

2. A new build for Tops on East Side would have taken ‘years’: Renovating the Jefferson Avenue store will allow Tops to reopen it by the end of July, while building a new store would take years. That timeline is a major reason behind the company’s decision to reopen, rather than rebuild, the location.

3. 43North aiming to attract high-growth companies to the region: Sam Eder moved to Buffalo from Austin, Texas, in January after his company Big Wheelbarrow won the 43North startup contest. Stipulating winning companies set up shop in Buffalo for at least a year is an important aspect of 43North’s mission.  

4. Rachel’s Mediterranean Grill expands beyond Buffalo home: Rachel’s has made it big in Western New York, and the family-owned business is now trying to expand the concept down the Thruway in New York and in larger markets such as Fort Worth, Texas.

5. Doctor recognized for providing aid in strife-torn regions: Dr. Aaron Epstein has been splitting his life between surgical shifts in Buffalo and leading the humanitarian aid group he founded in 2015. Now, he is in line for one of the nation’s top civilian awards.

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