It’s going to start getting crowded up by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus soon, and that’s just fine. The latest to announce plans to move to the area – or just a stent’s throw from it, anyway – is the Catholic Health System, which plans to build a new $46 million headquarters next to the western end of the Kensington Expressway.
The building won’t include outpatient care beyond an employee health clinic, but by consolidating eight administrative offices into one, the system will improve its efficiency and reduce costs by about $1 million a year for the next quarter-century. That money will be reinvested into patient care, said Joseph McDonald, president and CEO of Catholic Health.
This is a win for everyone. It is of obvious benefit to Catholic Health, and not just for the cost savings. There will be an intangible benefit from consolidating its management offices downtown, and only blocks from the medical campus dominated by its rival, Kaleida Health, and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Just as important, downtown and the whole City of Buffalo will benefit from the continued infusion of workers into the area. Indeed, the injection of new blood into the city is one of the several success stories the city has seen lately, including the development of the medical campus and the leapfrogging growth of the city’s waterfront area.
The City of Buffalo helped to make this happen. In a wise move, Mayor Byron W. Brown allocated $3.8 million to the project, with the money coming from State Assembly funds provided it for development projects. This is a good one.
“This is the gateway to downtown as you exit the 33,” Brown said Thursday. “To have all of these jobs coming to downtown Buffalo builds critical mass, more people working in downtown, and more people working downtown will be there to support businesses that are located in downtown Buffalo, so it’s very good news.”
Construction is expected to move quickly, with ground-breaking at the end of this month, construction beginning by the end of this year and completion expected by summer of 2014. The new building will house the administrative and professional staff for Catholic Health and the affiliated Catholic Health Partners, and will also house a regional training center for health care-related education.
The need for that center is driven, in part, by the federal health reform law, which McDonald said will mean “there’s going to be a lot of need for us to create some retooling of expertise for clinicians, nurses and technicians ...” The center will be open for other facilities in the region to use, McDonald said, not just Catholic Health.
This development is testament to the leadership McDonald has brought to Catholic Health since his appointment 10 years ago. Last month, his contract was extended to 2020 by the system and its sponsors – the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. The stated goal was to allow him to complete the organization’s strategic plan. It was a smart move on behalf of the region’s second-largest hospital system.
More growth is coming to the area in the next few years. In addition to Kaleida’s construction of the new Gates Vascular Institute on the campus and the continuing development of the Hauptmann-Woodward Institute, the area will in the coming years see the arrival of the University at Buffalo Medical School and of the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, named in recognition of the local foundation’s $10 million donation.
It’s a new day in Buffalo, and especially for its health industry. It’s good to see Catholic Health taking a larger role in that.