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Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and Health Center in Lewiston will become an affiliate of the Catholic Health system, the two organizations announced today.

Officials said the 175-bed Lewiston community hospital will benefit by having access to Catholic Health’s administrative and corporate services, as well as its specialty medical services.

Plans call for enhancing primary and outpatient services, expanding home- and community-based services, improving hospital operational performance, and supporting physician recruitment, according to a statement from the organizations.

“Through this association, we will work closely with the physicians and staff at Mount St. Mary’s to improve access to care and strengthen healthcare services throughout the region,” said Joseph McDonald, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Health.

The move is not a surprise.

Nationwide, smaller hospitals have been turning to larger health systems for assistance to keep up with changes in the health care business, remain financially robust and preserve a full range of services in their communities. Such affiliations have become a necessity with the increasing cost and complexity of care, as well as the growing pressure to coordinate patient care, adopt electronic medical records, and accept payment based on quality.

Mount St. Mary’s is currently part of Ascension Health, the nation’s largest Catholic health system. Its Our Lady of Peace nursing home will remain part of Ascension’s senior services division.

But there still will be a connection to Ascension because Catholic Health also is a member of the larger national system. Catholic Health also is a member of CHE Trinity Health, another large Catholic hospital system, and the Diocese of Buffalo.

Mount St. Mary’s will join Catholic Health’s other affiliated hospitals: Mercy, Kenmore Mercy, and Sisters of Charity and its St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga.

Since 2012, Catholic Health and Mount St. Mary’s have worked together on certain issues in a less-formal way through a collaborative services agreement. Catholic Health has a similar arrangement with Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville.

Carmen Granto, board chairman of Mount St. Mary’s, characterized the affiliation as an opportunity for Mount St. Mary’s to further enhance care throughout Niagara County.

The affiliation will require corporate and religious approvals, officials said. Once it has been approved, a Certificate of Need application will be filed with the New York State Health Department. The approval process is expected to be completed later next year.

email: hdavis@buffnews.com