Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 8, 2013

A NEW HOME FOR HEALTH

Niagara Gazette — Local officials and health care professionals gathered Friday at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to celebrate the hospital's designation as Niagara County's first state-designated "Health Home."

The Niagara Falls Memorial Health Home will be a collaborative effort of 46 medical services partners that will work together to monitor patients with multiple needs and provide them with support services.

The new network will focus on patients with multiple needs who struggle to navigate the healthcare system and, in many cases, find their way to costly emergency room care. 

"We must collaborate with community partners if many of these patients are to not only have their healthcare requirements met but receive the social support they need to avoid emergency services or hospitalization," said Memorial Medical Center's President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Ruffolo. "This is an entirely new approach, a groundbreaking process that changes the role of our hospital in a profound way." 

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D - Buffalo and Niagara Falls, was on hand to congratulate hospital staff for winning the designation from the New York State Department of Health.

Higgins, who was assigned to a committee that helped write President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, said the health home program addresses many of the issues with the American health care system he came across while working on that bill.

"You here, by this collaboration, are beginning that first step toward promoting innovation, collaboration and efficient and effective delivery of health care services," Higgins said. "It's an important first step that requires leadership and vision."

The health home designation is awarded to facilities who qualify for the state program, which promotes information sharing between the health care providers for Medicaid recipients in an effort to reduce costs by encouraging preventative medicine, avoiding duplicative services and promoting better overall health in those patients. The program aims to consider things like diet and housing conditions in an effort to make emergency room visits and hospital stays less frequent, according to press materials handed out by the hospital's public relations staff.

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