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OCT 07- OCT 14, 2014

New Golisano Center Will Benefit Special Needs Patients and Those Who Provide Them Specialized Care

October 07, 2014

Rendering of the soon to be built Golisano Center, part of the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center Complex.

"Carl" is 52 and was a frequent visitor to the emergency room due to his asthma flare-ups. Carl has a self-care deficit, limited social functioning and lacks self-direction.

Carl is one of an estimated 4,000 people living with a developmental disability in Niagara County. He lived with his biological mother for most of his adult life. After his mother's death, he was bounced from his primary residence to multiple boarding houses. Carl's physical appearance became disheveled, he emitted a foul odor, his hair was long and unruly; his skin was covered in dirt, he wore the same clothes each time he was seen; clothes much too large for his body and covered in stains.

Carl was evaluated and enrolled in the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center Health Home. Upon evaluation, the Health Home Care Manager identified that Carl was paying $475 a month for a single occupancy, very cramped bedroom in a debilitated building. He frequently was subjected to attacks by fellow boarders who took his money on a regular basis.

The Care Manager began coordinating services immediately to find a safer and more cost effective apartment for him. In addition, a representative payee was established to assist Carl with money management.

He was linked to primary care services and to behavioral health and wellness services. His medications for asthma were reordered and are now delivered to his new residence on a routine basis.

Since joining the Health Home, Carl has established a strong relationship with his Care Manager and he has not been back to the Emergency Room since. He has shown a significant improvement in hygiene and self-care, and is proud to show off his new haircut. He enjoys eating in a local soup kitchen and has begun socializing with the other diners. His quality of life has vastly improved thanks to the coordinated and dedicated efforts of the Health Home team, led by Director Vicki Landes, R.N., B.S.N.

Sadly, despite the great work that many community agencies provide, there are many "Carl's" in our midst. According to a recent report in USA Today, more than 56 million Americans have some form of disability. But, while there's considerable support for children with special needs, there is much less support for adults.

"This is a medically underserved population that has complex and unique care needs. Yet, only about half are believed to routinely receive the services they require," said Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center President & CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo.

In Niagara Falls, that's about to change.

Philanthropist and businessman Tom Golisano recently donated $3.5 million in support of the soon-to-be-built Golisano Center of Community Health. The $5 million Golisano Center, scheduled to open in early 2016, will be located adjacent to the ER1/Heart Center of Niagara building on Memorial's 10th Street campus.

The center will house a range of services and programs including primary care, mental health, health home care management, housing assistance, community outreach, satellite services, social services, health insurance enrollment and financial assistance counseling.

It will also be a valuable and groundbreaking educational resource for those who deliver care to special needs patients: doctors, nurses, social workers and others. The center's Learning Hub will offer internships and other workforce development opportunities in emerging career fields such as care coordination, navigation and management.

"Words we live by at the Golisano Foundation – which reflect our founder Tom Golisano's approach to business and philanthropy – are imagine the possibilities," said Foundation Director Ann Costello. "The Learning Hub will house the residency program and internships to train future students and clinicians in the disability field – and that's crucial to community based care."

Research will play an important role, as well. A Population Health Innovation Center will identify clusters of individuals suffering chronic diseases within specific geographical "hot spots" and serve as an incubator for the development of community-based strategies to address healthcare needs in those targeted areas.

And the New York State Department of Health has awarded a renewable $400,000 annual grant to Living Opportunities of DePaul, Inc., to fund a joint initiative with the medical center to provide supported housing for 40 people who receive care management services from Memorial's Health Home.

"This type of support is especially important for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as those we will provide care to at the Golisano Center for Community Health," Ruffolo said. "This grant will enable us to work with local landlords who meet DePaul's quality standards to place health home patients, including Golisano Center clients, in existing community housing."

"Housing is an acute problem in Niagara Falls and elsewhere in the county and we know patients in unstable housing situations are prone to over-utilize the emergency room and experience more inpatient admissions," Memorial Chief Operating Officer Sheila K. Kee said. "This joint initiative will lead to better health outcomes and reduced costs to the Medicaid system."

Rendering of the interior of the soon to be built Golisano Center.






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