The Sheehan Memorial Hospital bankruptcy case needs to be settled stat.
Getting the deal done before the snow flies is critical to preventing the 145,000-square-foot Michigan Avenue building from deteriorating over the winter. The building recently received millions of dollars in upgrades from the state that must be maintained.
Carl L. Bucki, the chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, has the hospital, which recently filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, on his calendar this week. There is a process he must follow, but that does not mean it cannot go quickly.
How quickly is up to current management, which will make a proposal on selling the property and then present it to the judge for approval. Bucki must consider the creditors, former employees, competing bidders and environmental and community issues.
The process needs to be fair and satisfy as many creditors as possible, but it also needs to lead to proper reuse of the building at the edge of downtown.
The primary asset is the real estate, and health-related entities are working corroboratively on such a reuse that will serve the community.
UNYTS, the nonprofit organ, eye, tissue and community blood center, wants to consolidate its operations into one location downtown. UNYTS owns space at 110 Broadway in Buffalo and leases space at 90 Curtwright Drive in Amherst. The business formerly known as Upstate New York Transplant Services would like to move into one location with ample parking. Sheehan Memorial is its prime choice.
In addition, the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Health Network would like to maintain the hospital building as a state-licensed health center that concentrates on primary and specialty care and perhaps develop ambulatory surgery. The network would replicate what some of the group's doctors have already done in the inner city with their state-of-the-art and VIP approach to patient care. The concept is to provide total integrated health care.
And the McGuire Group, parent to McGuire Development, is a 2,000-employee health care company with seven long-term care facilities. The group trains about 300 certified nursing assistants and nurses a year at Delaware and Allen, and wants to expand. The group recruits heavily from Buffalo's East Side and the Sheehan Memorial site would be a more convenient location for students.
All three - UNYTS, McGuire and the health network - are talking and working together in their goal of repurposing the hospital into clinical reuse. It fits well with the history of the Sheehan Health Network, which had survived for 128 years while often treating the poorest and most underserved population in Buffalo's core.
Sheehan is one more old hospital building that needs a new mission to keep it from being a drag on the neighborhood.
Kaleida Health officials began planning for the reuse of Millard Fillmore Hospital even before the Gates Circle facility closed its doors. The board of directors has chosen Chason Affinity's $65 million proposal to create a school of veterinary medicine at the site.
Next up for Kaleida will be repurposing the Women & Children's Hospital campus as the hospital relocates to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Sheehan's fate is yet to be determined, but it is encouraging that organizations are stepping up to throw it a lifeline.