The behavioral unit at Niagara Falls Memorial is important. Let's all agree on that. The hospital is threatening to close it because the county won't process Medicaid applications fast enough and the hospital can't continue to take the hit.
Legislator Renae Kimble wants the county to loan the hospital $3.5 million. I'm not sure how the rest of the county will feel about this, especially the other hospitals.
Before we go to far, I have some questions, some of which may be urban legends that can be dispelled:
1) NFMMC Chief Joe Ruffalo opened the Heart Center a few years ago to great fanfare. I've heard this is a white elephant that is losing money hand over fist. What is the truth about the heart center?
2) Rumor has it the hospital is down to a few days cash on hand. You're telling me the reason for all of this is a behavioral unit?
3) I've heard Ruffalo makes $500k. Isn't this a bit much for a small hospital in a poor town bleeding money? Has he caught his own lavish salary at least as a symbolic gesture?
4) Ruffalo got cut in for a very nice slice of casino revenues. Where has all that money gone?
5) Ruffalo is attacking the county for not working with him. The "county" in this case is Social Services Commissioner Tony Restiano. Tony and the whole Restiano clan are institutions in Niagara Falls, almost iconic status. It stretches the believability curve for me that Tony wouldn't already being doing everything WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF LEGALITY AND REASONABLENESS to be helping the hospital.
Bottom line for me: I think NFMCC is in big financial trouble and Ruffalo, who was once hailed as a white knight, is looking to blame anybody but the hospital for its troubles. I hope I'm wrong and that a workable solution can be found.
Because, as the first sentence says, the behavioral unit is important.