A new $25 million grant will give Kaleida Health a financial boost, helping to plug a hole in its budget as financial challenges continue to grow.

The funds come through the state’s Vital Access Provider Program, which helps fund operational costs for turnaround initiatives to help financially distressed New York state health care organizations.

The state has not yet released a full list of grantees in the new round of funding, but Kaleida confirmed the grant award, with CEO Don Boyd saying in a statement the funds are both welcome and needed “It’s no secret that our organization, hospitals here in Western New York and across the entire State have been battered by COVID-19,” he said. Kaleida has projected it will lose at least $100 million this year, and by midyear, the system had already lost $54 million, officials said.

The VAP program has been used by other area health systems over the past decade facing challenges:

  • Catholic Health received $18 million last year to help fund the cost of building a 10-bed hospital in Lockport to replace the bankrupt Eastern Niagara Hospital. The hospital, which will operate as a second campus of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, is slated to open next year.
  • Jones Memorial Hospital received $13 million in VAP funds to support operational improvements and start new programs. The 49-bed hospital, operating on a budget of about $50 million, serves a largely rural area in Allegany County.
  • Brooks Memorial Hospital and TLC Health Network received VAP funding to help cover costs associated with a 2017 merger that created Brooks-TLC Hospital System. That followed TLC’s emergence from a four-year bankruptcy period.

$8 million toward mental health services

Two more Western New York health care providers received federal funding to expand specialty mental health and substance use services. Endeavor Health Services and the Community Health Center of Buffalo received a combined $7.98 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics program.

Launched in 2017, the Certified Community program provides extra services including crisis intervention, targeted case management and peer support. Endeavor has received money to set up a clinic, as did Spectrum Health & Human Services and BestSelf Behavioral Health.
It’s the first time the Community Health Center of Buffalo has been funded in the program. The organization will use the four-year, $3.9 million grant award to improve access to behavioral health and crisis care at sites in Buffalo at 34 Benwood Ave. and in Niagara Falls at 2715 Highland Ave. The health center plans to hire 16 to 18 part-time and full-time workers to staff the sites, including licensed social workers, nurses, care managers, peers and outreach coordinators

Endeavor, which also received $3.9 million over four years, will fund a crisis stabilization center on the East Side, implement a DEI initiative and boost nurse-care management.

In other health care news:

  • Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is working on a $2.7 million imaging department expansion. The hospital will expand its Heart Center at the Niagara Falls campus at 571 Tenth St., adding a new 3T MRI contiguous to its CT scanner and nuclear medicine department, allowing for enhanced imaging for people coming to the hospital for stroke and heart problems.
    CEO Joseph Ruffolo said the new MRI, which replaces a 21-year-old machine, will make appointments more convenient for patients who must be transported by ambulance back and forth from the hospital’s outpatient imaging center at the Summit Healthplex on Williams Road. It should help boost the bottom line too, he said. With revenue of $125 million, the hospital had losses last year of $10 million.
    “We’re still struggling with revenue not recovering and, of course, with the labor costs that everyone’s going through in terms of affordability to recruit and retain nurses,” he said.
  • The University at Buffalo will receive $1 million from the National Science Foundation to develop an early warning system for future pandemics and public health work. The funds come through the first phase of the Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention Initiative. UB’s project will be led by Jennifer Surtees, associate professor of biochemistry in the Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at UB.
  • Erie County Medical Center is planning a $977,340 renovation for its Center for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery at 30 N. Union Road, Williamsville. The project will create an obesity medicine practice with room for surgery, primary care, chronic disease management and other ambulatory specialty services such as cardiology, pain management and gastroenterology. The clinic will move temporarily to 4600 Main St. in Williamsville during renovations.