n What happened in 2006: A statewide commission, authorized by the state Legislature, voted to close hospitals and nursing homes and restructure others in an effort to cut health care costs across the state and eliminate unnecessary beds.

If the recommendations are not carried out in a timely manner, federal funding is jeopardized.

n What will happen in 2007: It will be up to the Spitzer administration, specifically his choice for commissioner of health, to carry out the plan laid out by the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, also known as the Berger Commission.

Niagara County plans to file a lawsuit to fight a recommendation to close Mount View Health Facility and build a new 100-bed assisted-living facility in its place. The county contends it is out $2.4 million because a purchase deal with Senior Associates of Williamsville for the property is now void in light of the commission’s plans.

In the western end of the county, Memorial Medical Center in Niagara Falls will be made to work with Mount St. Mary’s in Lewiston to reduce redundant services and combine certain programs. If the commission’s recommendations are upheld by the next governor and Legislature, both hospitals must negotiate in good faith or risk a shut-down. State approval for new programs at the hospitals will not be granted while they are in negotiations.

In North Tonawanda, DeGraff Memorial Hospital is slated to be transformed from an acute-care facility with a nursing home to a facility that only provides long-term care.

Why this matters: If the recommendations are enforced, two hospitals that once tried to merge will be forced to retread old ground. But it could lead to more cost-efficiency in the way health care is delivered in Niagara County.

In Lockport, the changes could mean county taxpayers would shoulder costs to close Mount View, if the state does not make funds available. Also, current residents would need to be placed in a different nursing home.

If the plan to close Mount View and build a new assisted-living facility is followed, much less nursing staff will be needed.

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