Finger Lakes Health to merge with UR Medicine

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Finger Lakes Health and the University of Rochester’s UR Medicine will officially merge Aug. 1, officials of the two systems announced Thursday.

The merger will add two hospitals—Geneva General in Ontario County and Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in Yates County—to UR Medicine’s eight-hospital system. It will also add 1,300 workers to UR’s roughly 30,000-employee staff.

Current UR Medicine hospitals include Strong Memorial and Highland in Rochester, Jones Memorial in Allegany County,  Noyes Memorial in Livingston County, St. James in  Steuben County and F.F. Thompson in Canandaigua, Ontario County.

FLH and UR Medicine officials at the merger announcement. (Photo by Will Astor)

FLH started exploring an affiliation with a larger system some five years ago. After studying proposals from several possible partners, it chose UR Medicine, FLH CEO Jose Acevedo M.D. says. COVID put a merger between the systems—first explored in 2019 as the pandemic began to spread—on hold until now.

To gain final approval, the merger had to pass scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission and  state regulators. Officials including Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Joe Morelle and New York Attorney General Letitia James helped put the deal over the finish line, Acevedo says.

Three years ago while awaiting final approval, the two systems inked a management service agreement and have since forged key relationships connecting FLH hospitals and medical practices to specialists, Acevedo says.

In deciding to join a larger system, “having access to care locally was our top priority,” he explains.

Like many rural and small city hospitals, the 132-bed Geneva General and Soldiers and Sailors, a critical access facility with 25 acute-care beds, find it hard to recruit specialists like cardiologists and oncologists.

FLH currently does not have a maternity unit and even after officially merging with UR Medicine will not have population sufficient to justify adding a birthing unit. UR Medicine does have a midwifery program, however, which might be able to serve Yates County’s substantial Mennonite population, whose members prefer home-birth to hospital deliveries.

FLH’s operations have long included advanced services and features including specialty medical practices, a school of nursing and a nursing college, four skilled nursing facilities, and independent living apartments for seniors, Acevedo says.

Even so, he adds, affiliating with UR Medicine under the management service agreement has already added key services like in-patient and out-patient dialysis care, enhanced FLH’s own cardiology care and expanded FLH’s telemedicine offerings.

Still needed to fully integrate both facilities is a complete makeover of FLH’s electronic medical records systems. FLH currently uses four separate systems. It plans to install two new systems that will be compatible with UR Medicine’s EMR apparatus. UR Medical Center CEO Mark Taubman estimates the cost of the EMR makeover to run to $40 million or more.

Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

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