January 24, 2008

Bailing Out Niagara Falls Memorial

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.


Johnny Walker said...

What I find most comical about this is that Kimble and Virtuoso take every opportunity they can to pound the crap out of the same people they now are asking for a huge favor. Can they really be that stupid as to think the the current majority is going to loan NFMMC $3.50 let alone $3.5 million? You reap what you sow, Dennis. You treat people like they're nothing and that's what you're going to get in return-nothing!

fed up in da falls said...

I was worried about the sentiment expressed by Johnny. I hope maybe some people will look beyond that and try to help save the unit. As Hobbes points out there are a lot of questions about the way Memorial is run before any money will shift hands, but addressing those issues and helping save the unit can go hand in hand.

It's too bad that Kimble, Virtuoso and O'Connor have been so beligerent. People will tell you the Leg changed for the worse they day Dennis got elected because everything is personal and nasty.

I guess our only hope is Jason Murgia.

fat tony said...

Plainly put, I don't want my taxpayers going to fund Ruffalo's fat salary. Let him take a hit before he comes crying to joe taxpayer.

dark knight said...

I don't like the negative tone of this post. Sure, Memorial needs to prove its case, but why are we all so inclined to believe bumblin, stumbin Greg Lewis. I've never know him to be proactive...or really active at all. I wouldn't be surprised if he's the root cause of the problem.

We can't let these petty political battles interfere with much needed health care services. And this just isn't a Niagara Falls issue. On the news last night the Lockport Police Chief was talking about how he relies on NFMCC.

Let's get this thing settled.

Anonymous said...

Settle what? Dark Knight, please tell me what needs to be settled and how this settlement will impact the hospital. This is exactly the response Ruffolo wants. Deflect, create a fake issue, deflect, blame, create hysteria, blame.

Even if you believe that all the hospital's woes have been created by Medicaid reimbursement, then shouldn't he look to the people that actually have some control over the Medicaid program- yes, Senator Thompson and Assemblywoman DelMonte- and where are they by the way?

dark knight said...

I was looking beyond the rhetoric to say there must be something that can be done to save the psych units. I don't know what the fact and fiction is, but I do know the importance of the service.

Now, I'm not that naive to think that Ruffalo could be using all of this as a smokescreen to get the aid he needs. And as Hobbes said, I have faith in Restiano to do the right thing.

So, when I say settle this, I mean cut through the bullcrap.

Anonymous said...

Hobbes and hospital=blah blah blah

frank degeorge said...

I'm curious about the heart center too. It's all you heard about a few years ago, but I haven't heard boo about it since then. Should one assume that silence equates to a money pit.

sick & tired said...

During the quest to control the casino dollars, Ruffalo, along with NF School honcho Carmen Granto, each served as Senator Maziarz's allies in preventing the People of Niagara Falls, through their elected representatives, from controlling the bulk of casino money.

Maziarz's coalition was masterful in that he put together the City's largest public and private employers in a political pincer attack upon control of those funds. And don't think that the hospital unions didn't have a role also, influencing and allying with the Senate's labor committee Chair.

So while the apologists on this blog can blame certain Dems for their actions or inactions, the real political player in NF MMC is none other than the incredible Georgie M.

And if NFMMC is truly in financial trouble, its a fair question to ask who really got played in the casino deal, Ruffalo or Maziarz?

proud democrat said...

sick and tired....your last post makes the most sense. Poeple don`t be fooled. Medicaid is a problem for everyone. But its not the only problem that they have.