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Interim Roswell Park medical director receives permanent job

Roswell Park Cancer Institute has named Dr. Anthony L. Picone as its medical director.

Picone has served as the cancer center's interim medical director for the past six months, replacing Dr. Judy Smith. A Roswell Park employee since April 2009, he is a cardiothoracic surgeon in the Department of Thoracic Surgery.

As medical director, Picone coordinates and plans strategic and tactical components of the cancer center's clinical services. He also advises Dr. Donald L. Trump, Roswell Park's president and CEO, and other top officials on administrative and clinical issues related to medical practices, the hospital said in a statement announcing Picone's appointment.

“A well-known and respected faculty member and a skilled clinician, Dr. Picone possesses great strength in practice development and working with community physicians. His combination of clinical, educational and research expertise is impressive and will be valuable in developing new mutually beneficial programs with our many regional partners,” Trump said in the statement.

Picone also holds various appointments at Kaleida Health, Erie County Medical Center, Sisters of Charity Hospital and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

---Stephen T. Watson



Local business today

When it opened 10 years ago, the Sonoma Grille brought some style Dining out for life LOCAL KIRKHAM dining life and flair to the Lord Amherst. An elegant, fine dining establishment with classy entertainment, it joined the competitive and growing  'white-tablecloth' dining scene. When Iskalo Development bought the Lord Amherst property two years ago, the restaurant run by Michael and Marilynn Militello stayed in business. But the nice run for the Sonoma is coming to an end. Iskalo has big plans for the site, with a new Hyatt and a renovated Lord Amherst. A completely redone restaurant will open, but it's not clear of the Militello's will be running it.

Solar power is fighting to stay viable as the natural gas boom pushes down utility costs. So when a large indusrial customer quadruples its solar commitment, it a cause for some celebration. Solar is clean, and Galanispays for itself over time. Sealing Devices is unveiling an array of solar panels at its Lancaster plant today that is four-times the size of the system they installed a few years ago.  Company President Terry Galanis Jr. said the panels will supply 25 percent of the company's power.


Who has been hired, honored or promoted lately?

-- Grove Potter


Hospice Buffalo restructuring expands pediatric program

A structural realignment will allow a Center for Hospice & Palliative Care program that provides home care for children to expand and serve more pediatric patients, center officials announced Tuesday.

The Essential Care for Children program since 1998 has been part of the center’s Home Care Buffalo, a certified home health agency that also cared for adult patients. As part of a certified home health agency, the pediatric program was required to follow a strict medical model, said Dr. Christopher Kerr, the center's interim CEO and chief medical officer.

By aligning the program under Supportive Medical Partners, the center’s palliative care physician and nurse case management practice, the program can serve the holistic needs of children with serious and terminal illnesses.

The five employees who have served the dozen or so children now in the program will continue to serve them under this realignment, which is expected to double the number of children served, Kerr said.
With the center ending Home Care Buffalo’s operations, its two adult patients were shifted to the care of another home health agency of their choice, officials said.

In another change, the center is partnering with Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo to establish an inpatient palliative care service, based at the hospital and led by a newly hired pediatric palliative care physician.

---Stephen T. Watson

Busy factories, for now

Factories in Western New York are humming. The most recent report from area purchasing managers shows that July was the best month in a year for local manufacturers. Graham And more impressive, the level of production was at a nine-year high.

But a dark cloud Durable looms on the national horizon. The orders for durable goods dropped 7.3 percent nationally, the steepest drop in almost a year. Those busy factories are filling previous orders. An uptick in orders is needed to keep the momentum.

-- Grove Potter   

Two area hospitals cited for low hip, knee replacement surgery costs

Two area hospitals are among the 10 cheapest facilities in the country for hip and knee replacement surgeries, according to an analysis by NerdWallet Health.

The personal finance website, now making a push into the topic of health transparency, sifted through Medicare data and demographic information to assess the price and expected quality of the procedures performed at 2,750 hospitals.

Medina Memorial Hospital, in Orleans County, was listed as the No. 2 cheapest hospital for hip or knee replacement surgeries, with an average price of $14,788, and Eastern Niagara Hospital, in Lockport, was No. 10 with an average cost of $16,992, NerdWallet Health found.

Nationally, the average price billed by a hospital for hip or knee replacement surgery was $52,063 in 2011, according to the site. However, Medicare negotiates a much lower reimbursement for the procedures, or an average of $14,567 that year for either one, and health insurers also negotiate their own reimbursement rates.

Five of the 10 most expensive hospitals for the two procedures are in California, with Monterey Park Hospital, in Monterey Park, leading the way with an average bill of $223,373.

In this area, the most expensive hospital for hip and knee replacement was the Kaleida Health system as a whole, at an average bill of $37,230, according to NetWallet Health, a price still well below the national average.

"We observed no meaningful correlation between the price a hospital charges for hip and knee surgery and the relative income or age of people living in the nearby community," the study's authors write. "Likewise, we did not find that hospital size or operating characteristics had any consistent influence on hospital charges."

However, NetWallet Health did find that outcomes generally were better at hospitals that performed at least 200 hip and knee replacements each year, with lower rates of infections, heart attacks, blood clots, pneumonia or death.

In Western New York, only Kaleida Health, with 479 such procedures, and Catholic Health's Kenmore Mercy Hospital, with 204, fit this bill, according to the study. Those figures are for the number of Medicare-reimbursed procedures only.

In a separate report, Kenmore Mercy was cited as the third-cheapest hospital in the country that performs 200 or more hip or knee replacements per year.

The survey also asked patients if they agreed with the statement, "I would definitely recommend this hospital." In this area, Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo scored highest, with 72 percent agreeing, while United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia scored lowest, with 64 percent agreement.

The NetWallet Health report follows an extensive release of data in May by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the Medicare program. The Buffalo News and other media outlets conducted their own analysis of this data.

---Stephen T. Watson

Weekend business...

Some interesting business stories from the weeekend...

With all the new buildings and renovations of corporate offices, Rich products  business writer Stephen T. Watson looked as what companies do with their old stuff - furnitire, decorations, and a WWI airplane, for instance.


Some very interesting companies have started up in Buffalo in recent years, few more so than Liazon. The firm is a pioneer in the insurance exchange trend that Obamacare is bringing to the nation. Ashok Subramanian, a Williamsville native, started the company with two others, Tim Godzich and Alan Cohen. His comments about why Buffalo is a perfect place to start a business are music to the folks promoting the region.

The General Motors plant in Tonawanda opened Gm tours its doors to the public again and drew thousands.

In the packed gymnasium of Holy Angles Academy on Hertle Avenue on Saturday, local developer Carl Paladino outbid other developers to buy the school. He's not saying what he will do with it, but he says he has a tenant and all it needs is some paint. Paladino Could it be a charter school?





Lots of people getting hired or promoted...

-- Grove Potter


UB engineer honored by peers in local chemical organization

A University at Buffalo professor of chemical and biological engineering is being honored by the local chapter of the American Chemical Society.

Mark T. Swihart, who is director of a nanotechnology research program at UB, is the recipient of the 2013 Jacob F. Schoellkopf Medal, which honors outstanding service and work in the areas of chemical engineering or chemistry by a Western New Yorker.

The society has presented the medal annually since 1931, making it the oldest award of its type in the country, according to the university.

Swihart, who has worked at UB since 1998, directs the school's Integrated Nanostructured Systems Materials initiative, which manages nanotechnology and nanoscience research on campus.

He receives most of his research funding from the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and industry. Swihart's work could lead to advances in optoelectronics such as light-emitting diodes and solar cells, and the research may have useful imaging applications in medicine, environmental research and other areas, according to UB.

---Stephen T. Watson

Best bets for financing a new car looked into which states had the lowest financing options available for a new car and created a top 10 list. New York did not make the cut, finishing instead in the middle of the pack.

The state with the lowest aggregate average loan rate on new cars was Michigan, at 3.03 percent. said credit unions "dominate" for the lowest rates offered in that state.

New York's rate was 3.51 percent. Meanwhile, seven states came in at 4.01 percent or higher, with Rhode Island the highest, at 5.11 percent. said its study looked at base rates offered by banks and credit unions on new car loan products, using a statewide average of rates to determine the rankings.

The study says car buyers who don't live in one of the top 10 states should not despair: "When it comes to affordable financing, there are always great options available on the local level, and it's up to the borrower to find them."

-- Matt Glynn




Rep. Collins leading roundtable on biotech industry

Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, is hosting a roundtable discussion this afternoon on the biotech sector's role in boosting the state economy while improving the delivery of health-care services.

Participants in today's roundtable were scheduled to include top officials from Greatbatch Inc., Polymer Conversions and Graphic Controls, as well as the president of the MedTech lobbying association and an executive vice president from the Advanced Medical Technology Association, or AdvaMed.

The discussion is taking place at 1:30 p.m. at Greatbatch's facility at 11900 Walden Ave., Alden.

---Stephen T. Watson


Independent Health partners with Tops Markets on nutrition benefit

Independent Health is teaming up with Tops Friendly Markets on a plan that offers an incentive to its members to eat fresh fruit and vegetables.

The carrier on Jan. 1 will launch a program for members who are employees of small businesses, or who buy individual coverage, that rewards people who buy fresh fruit for vegetables at Tops supermarkets.

For every $2 spent on this produce, Tops will credit $1 for use at a later time. Independent Health will issue the member a co-branded Tops gift card at the end of every quarter.The credits can be used to buy anything in the store except tobacco products, representatives of the two companies said today.

Members can earn up to $1,000 per family policy or $500 per single policy annually.

The nutrition benefit will be expanded to members who are employees of large companies some time in the spring, Independent Health officials said.

The program was announced this morning at a news conference in the Tops on Elmwood Avenue in North Buffalo.

--- Stephen T. Watson

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