Full Circle of Heart Care Project

Memorial, Kaleida, ECMC announce joint effort to reduce cardiac care disparities in Niagara

Gates Vascular Institute to open, operate cardiac catheterization lab at The Heart Center of Niagara

Erie County Medical Center, Kaleida Health and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center today announced a three-point plan to bring lifesaving cardiac care closer to home for Niagara County residents while directly addressing disparities in the availability of that care to African Americans and people living in poverty.

Called the Full Circle of Heart Care project, the collaborative effort calls for ECMC to decertify its license for one of its three cardiac catheterization labs and transfer the license to Kaleida Health. Kaleida’s Gates Vascular Institute would then establish a cardiac catheterization lab at Memorial’s Heart Center of Niagara.

The Niagara Falls facility will be staffed and operated by Kaleida’s Gates Vascular Institute and perform coronary angiograms and interventional procedures such as cardiac stenting and angioplasty.  The transfer and establishment of the cardiac cath lab in Niagara is subject to New York State Department of Health approval.

“The lack of access to cardiac catheterization services, largely attributed to a lack of transportation, has created significant disparities in heart care for African-Americans and people from low income households in Niagara County,” said Memorial President & CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo.

Niagara County’s cardiovascular mortality rate is one of the highest in the state and among the highest in the country. Nearly one in three county residents dies from heart disease – and the death rate among African Americans is 23 percent higher than the county’s rate.

“The rate of cardiac catheterization care for whites is twice that for African Americans,” Ruffolo said.  “And while we know people from low-income households are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attack, the rate of cardiac catheterization for whites is nearly three times the rate for Medicaid beneficiaries. In other words, the people who need this care the most are getting it the least.”

Ruffolo noted that Niagara County is the second most populated county in Western New York.

“Despite that fact, the lack of a cardiac catheterization laboratory forces Niagara County residents to travel a considerable distance for that service. This lack of accessibility results in an excessive time lapse – typically 125 minutes – between onset of a heart attack and interventional treatment,” Ruffolo said.

Kaleida President & CEO Jody Lomeo said the three-way collaboration between health systems will benefit the entire region.

“We are proud to be part of this unprecedented collaboration to improve access to lifesaving cardiac care in an area where it is clearly lacking,” Lomeo said.  “This is all about bringing the Gates Vascular Institute – a top 15 program in the nation – right into the community and improving the quality of care for patients across the eight counties of Western New York.”

The Full Circle of Heart Care project is designed to meet the state’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program goal of fundamentally restructuring the health care delivery system by reinvesting in the Medicaid program with the primary goal of reducing avoidable hospital use by 25 percent over five years.

“ECMC is proud to be part of this three-way historic collaboration,” said Richard C. Cleland, President/Chief Operating Officer and Interim Chief Executive Officer of the

Erie County Medical Center Corporation. “We are pleased to transfer the license to this valuable resource so it can employed where most needed — driving improvement in the region’s health status without imposing burdensome long term costs to the healthcare system.”

Cleland noted that ECMC is lead applicant for Millenium Collaborative Care, a DSRIP Performing Provider System (PPS) that includes Kaleida and Niagara Falls Memorial.

“Our community through DSRIP will be addressing health disparities throughout Western New York.  This is a great start and an example of how DSRIP will make a differ