Niagara Gazette


January 31, 2014

Memorial opens center aimed at coordinating mental and medical health care

Niagara Gazette — Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center Vice President Sanjay Chadha stood in the hospital’s new Wellness Connection Center on Thursday afternoon and smiled broadly.

“This,” he said exuberantly, “is our Super Bowl.”

With a who’s who of government officials doctors and patients looking on Chadha and others snipped a red ribbon to open the center, billed as “a revolutionary new coordinated care program that will integrate behavioral health, primary care, wellness services, and community and social support services under one roof.”

“This will be a model the community will watch,” said Arthur Wingerter, president of Univera Healthcare. 

Housed on the sixth floor of Memorial’s Schoellkopf Building, in a newly constructed $1.98 million facility, the outpatient program will enhance accessibility, improve patient care and reduce the cost of care by reducing emergency room visits and hospital admissions for those in need of both behavioral and primary health care.

“The Niagara Wellness Connection Center will afford patients convenient access to primary care, behavioral health treatment, addiction screening, health and wellness education, fitness activities, community support services and financial and health insurance counseling, all under one roof,” Memorial Vice President and COO Sheila Kee said. “(Today) we are celebrating a new model of care.” 

The integrated, patient-centered care model, which is new to Western New York, is expected to provide better outcomes for patients, while at the same time greatly reducing the cost of care.

“Focusing on the coordination of care is an incredible advance,” said Wingerter, whose company will provide a grant to help fund operations at the center. “It (will lead to) a reduction in revenue (to the medical center), as (an insurance) payor, I like that.”

The center should also address a significant community need. The Synthesis Project, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has found that more than 68 percent of adults diagnosed with a mental disorder also have companion medical issues.

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