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NYS Health Experts Compare Coronavirus and Spanish Flu in Anticipation for New Wave of Infections

BY FADIA PATTERSON | CITY OF BUFFALO | May 25, 2020


After two waves of coronavirus devastated communities across the country, health officials say warmer temperatures will help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Boosting outcomes — and saving money — through ACO model

By Tracey Drury – Reporter, Buffalo Business First | May 22, 2020


The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization (GBUACO) remains the region’s only state-designated accountable care organization (ACO), overseeing care for about 30,000 patients across the region insured by government programs through Fidelis and YourCare Health Plan.

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Getting a COVID-19 antibody test

By: Hannah Buehler | May 3, 2020


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Antibody testing is ramping up in Western New York.

It’s a blood test, that tells if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or have been infected with the virus. If your test comes back that you have a high antibody count, you likely had COVID-19.

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The region will stay in limbo without more Covid-19 testing

Effort mostly targets patients with Medicaid

By Scott Scanlon/REFRESH EDITOR/BN | May 3, 2020


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week used results of early antibody testing across the state to estimate that 7.1% of those in Western New York have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.

That would leave about 1.4 million people in the eight-county region still vulnerable to the virus.

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Local doctor says people are taking advantage and getting tested for COVID-19

Shannon Smith/WIVB | April 27, 2020


BUFFALO, N.Y. — Dr. Raul Vazquez talks about how people are taking advantage and getting tested. G-Health Enterprises network has offered drive through testing for both types of tests, and have done nearly 400 of them in two weeks. Click below for more information.

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Mobile Vans to start Covid-19 testing in poor city neighborhoods

Buffalo News | April 27, 2020


BUFFALO, N.Y. (BN) — Nurses and other health providers spent Monday afternoon outside Urban Family Practice on Jefferson Avenue conducting blood tests on Medicaid patients to see if they’ve already had the new coronavirus and now have antibodies.

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$8M will fund fight against Covid-19 in Buffalo's most 'vulnerable communities'

By Caitlin Dewey| April 22, 2020


BUFFALO, N.Y. (BN) — A broad slate of Buffalo health care providers, faith leaders and community organizations will receive more than $8 million in state funds to battle Covid-19 among the city’s most vulnerable residents.

The wide-ranging plan – announced Wednesday by executives at Erie County Medical Center and the regional health care consortium Millennium Collaborative Care – aims to both expand testing in low-income, high-risk communities and increase medical services and social support for people who fall ill..

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GBUACO inks new deal with Fidelis Care

By Tracey Drury – Reporter, Buffalo Business First | SEPTEMBER 17, 2019


A Buffalo health care organization has signed a second contract to manage services for up an additional 12,000 Medicaid recipients in the region.

The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization runs the region’s only state-designated ACO, a model that rewards physicians and providers for cutting costs and improving care and outcomes for Medicaid recipients.

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Yes, this virus discriminates, because we still do

Dr. Raul Vazquez says Buffalo Niagara needs a community-based approach to fight the novel coronavirus and reach people who might not have primary care doctors. But experts like him have yet to be brought into the planning discussions.

By Rod Watson/BN | March 31, 2020


"This virus does not discriminate ... (it’s an) equal-opportunity virus that can affect anyone of any age, of any race, from any ZIP code."– Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

While the point he was making – that everyone should follow social distancing and other precautions – is certainly valid, the idea that the novel coronavirus is colorblind is no more true than is the notion that American society is colorblind.

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Western New York doctor starts drive-in testing clinic for patients

Dr. Raul Vazquez is using his practice to get more tests for people in vulnerable communities

Karys Belger/WGRZ | April 16, 2020


BUFFALO, N.Y. — Dr. Raul Vazquez has been advocating for weeks to get more COVID-19 tests for communities in Buffalo where there are high rates of underlying health conditions and lack of access to resources.

His practice recently began administering tests to try and close the gap.

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Buffalo doctor creates coronavirus testing site

Olivia Proia/WKBW | April 16, 2020


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It all started when Dr. Raul Vazquez’s 24-year-old daughter Nadia got sick. She had a fever and shortness of breath. Three days after coming home from the hospital, she received a call that she was positive for COVID-19.

The process caused him to think: How would this experience have been if he wasn’t a doctor? Or if his family had no doctor at all?

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N.Y.C. Death Toll Soars Past 10,000 in Revised Virus Count

David Goodman and William K. Rashbaum/NYT | April 14, 2020


New York City, N.Y. — New York City, already a world epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, sharply increased its death toll by more than 3,700 victims on Tuesday, after officials said they were now including people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died of it.

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14125 zip code most affected by COVID-19 in Erie County

WGRZ | April 9, 2020


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WGRZ) — BUFFALO, N.Y. — Is a community that's 80% African American, and the population has a history of chronic illnesses. Dr. Raul Vazquez says these factors present a great risk for the community, because most of these individuals don't have access to a primary care physician.

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Dr. Raul Vazquez is working on a community action plan to help connect patients to doctors amid the coronavirus pandemic

Karys Belgar/WGRZ | April 8, 2020


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WGRZ) — BUFFALO, N.Y. — As more information is released about COVID-19, local community leaders are continuing to raise concerns over how the pandemic will affect communities of color in Buffalo and Erie County.

The African American Health Equity task force recently called on local leaders to take steps toward making sure communities of color, particularly on Buffalo's East Side, get access to testing. The concern is that the chronic health conditions that already exist in communities of color will cause the COVID-19 pandemic to be even more devastating.

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YourCare, GBUACO renew Medicaid savings contract

By Tracey Drury – Reporter, Buffalo Business First | APRIL 4, 2019


YourCare Health Plan has renewed its contract with the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization, a value-based payment plan based in Buffalo.

The deal comes three years after the two organizations first partnered, following GBUACO’s creation as one of the first ACOs in New York’s program that rewards rewards physicians and providers for cutting costs and improving care and outcomes for Medicaid recipients.

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New guidelines, new priorities: healthcare workers say not all can get access to testing

Madison Carter/WKBW | March 25, 2020


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Wednesday afternoon Erie County Executive announced new guidelines for priority testing in the County.

PRIORITY will now go to:

-healthcare workers, and those who pose a risk by being in close proximity to health care workers

-law enforcement

-people living in heavily populated places: prison, nursing homes, etc.

-pregnant women, or women who have just given birth

People who will NOT be given priority testing are:

-people already under quarantine, with mild symptoms

-people without symptoms, even if in contact with someone positive

-mildly sick people who do not live in heavily populated areas

These are the guidelines that health care providers must follow when contacting the health department to recommend testing.

Dr. Raul Vazquez, a family care physician, says doctors can only recommend testing, but what happens after that is out of their hands.

“The Department of Health and everyone says ‘call your primary care’,” said Vazquez. “So yeah, they call and we refer, but then once the testing gets done we’re out of the loop as a primary care physician.”

Stephanie Surman is an LPN who works in private homecare directly with children, she and her boyfriend have had symptoms of COVID-19 for over a week but cannot get a test.

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Dr. Raul Vazquez, CEO of Urban Family Practice, conducts a checkup on Mathew Martinez at the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization, which mostly handles Medicaid patients.

John Hickey/Buffalo News | March 12, 2020


More value-based care
Urban Family Practice, which serves more than 9,000 mostly Medicaid patients in Buffalo, will open its third clinic this month. Since the first office on the West Side opened about eight years ago and became part of the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization (GBUACO), leaders and staff have labored to move from a fee-for service health care model – where providers are paid based on office visits, tests, drugs and treatments they prescribe – to a “value-based model” that provides reimbursement on how well a practice keeps patients healthy and helps them avoid hospitalizations. Those who do so receive greater “bundled payments” designed to focus more on greater access to preventative care, creating a less costly health care system over time.

The Medicaid Redesign Team I recommended this idea in 2011. It gave way to several practices across the state that operate like Urban Family Practice.

“We’re not asking the state for more money. We’re asking the state to make the regulations such that they give us the ability to innovate the way we want to innovate here,” said Dr. Chet Fox, chief medical officer with Urban Family and GBUACO. “The average bariatric surgery cost $40,000. For two surgeries, you could hire a dietitian, maybe even two, that could work full time for a year.”

GBUAHN HELPING PEOPLE ON MEDICAID TO GET AND STAY HEALTHIER

In Good Health | December 30, 2019

Over 40% of Buffalo residents are on Medicaid, the federally funded healthcare program that covers people because of their low-income status or other factors, according to recent data from Deloitte/DataUSA.

Frequently, people with low income — those living in poverty — experience one or more multiple chronic diseases (such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity).

And, says physician Raul Vazquez, there are things that can be done to both improve their health.

Vazquez is the founder and chief executive officer of the Greater Buffalo United Area Health Network (GBUAHN, pronounced “gee-bawn”), which is a “health home,” created under the Affordable Care Act, Section 2703. Health homes are organizations which provide care coordination and a variety of other services for exactly this population: people on Medicaid who have multiple or severe chronic conditions.

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Holon Solutions Launches Population View Application to Further Operationalize Analytics

Cision PR Newswire | November 6, 2019

ATLANTA, Nov. 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Holon Solutions, healthcare's leading data liberator, announced today the launch of its Population View application for its CollaborNet® platform. This application offers healthcare organizations an actionable, continuum-wide perspective of cost and care quality to manage members of risk-based contracts to ensure high-quality, efficient care management.

On demand, Population View surfaces physicians, care managers and other professionals a population-level, dashboard perspective of their attributed patients in a dynamic list with only the most relevant cost, care quality and utilization information. Like Holon's CollaborNet Insights application, Population View surfaces risk scores, costs, care gaps, utilization and other pre-determined data from electronic health records (EHRs), as well as third-party analytics platforms, payer portals, health information exchanges (HIEs), outside providers' EHRs, and any other data source connected to the provider's organization. Moreover, Population View surfaces analytics starting at the population-level view of the risk-based membership, and allows the user to drill down making it even more user friendly.

Population View puts the power of the organization's rich analytics in the hands of the care team with a population-level view that empowers workflows starting at the strategic initiative level of an organization. This allows users to control their inquiry into the population-level data to match their workflow needs.

Existing CollaborNet clients can be up and running on Population View in minutes. Population View can also be used as a standalone application for new CollaborNet clients, with minimum deployment time and costs.

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Healthcare firm buys Belmont Shelter headquarters on Main

The Buffalo News | September 20, 2019

A fast-growing West Side-based healthcare organization and insurance provider has acquired the former Main Street headquarters of Belmont Housing Resources of Western New York, paying $2.5 million for a building just north of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

G-Health Enterprises, the parent of the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN) and related entities, closed Thursday on its purchase of the 24,531-square-foot building at 1195 Main St. That's located two blocks above Buffalo General Medical Center and the Gates Vascular Institute.

The purchase also included an adjacent parcel at 36 Dodge St., around the corner, said David Schiller of Pyramid Brokerage Co., who handled the transaction for Belmont.

Meanwhile, Belmont is planning to move to 2421 Main St., the 72,000-square-foot former headquarters of LPCiminelli, which the nonprofit is buying from the largely-defunct former general contractor for $5.45 million. The sale is expected to close on Sept. 30.

Starting in late January, Belmont will occupy 34,000 square feet in the building, formerly a car dealership and manufacturing facility that later became the headquarters for Greater Buffalo Savings Bank before that was acquired by First Niagara Financial Group. Two other tenants - labor union Local 1199 SEIU and a KeyBank branch - will remain.

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GBUACO inks new deal with Fidelis Care

Buffalo Business First | September 17, 2019

A Buffalo health care organization has signed a second contract to manage services for up an additional 12,000 Medicaid recipients in the region.

The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization runs the region’s only state-designated ACO, a model that rewards physicians and providers for cutting costs and improving care and outcomes for Medicaid recipients.

The new two-year contract with Fidelis Care, which begins Jan. 1, will add 12,000 Erie County residents insured with Medicaid through Fidelis. They join 13,000 individuals insured through YourCare Health Plan, another company that offers Medicaid coverage in Western New York that has partnered with GBUACO for several years.

GBUACO plans to hire dozens of new workers to manage the business, said Dr. Raul Vazquez, president and CEO for G-Health Enterprises, the organization that oversees both GBUACO and Urban Family Practice.

Vazquez said the agreement with Fidelis should lead to improved patient care while reducing unnecessary costs. The company also plans to add additional infrastructure to support IT and its own pharmacy benefits management system.

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Industry leaders see increased cooperation as part of the formula for a better health care experience in Western New York

Buffalo Business First | August 23, 2019

Deepening financial constraints and increased demand for services are prompting the players in the health care industry to take collaborative and creative approaches to continue to successfully meet their missions to provide for patients.

Some of their methods, which are markedly collaborative, are noteworthy for an industry that in the past engaged in muscling out the competition.

And some are creative because the players are looking well beyond their walls for ways to uniquely meet the needs of patients. Ridesharing, anyone? How about a doctor visit via a video call?

Nine of the area’s largest and most significant providers participating in a recent roundtable discussion at Business First laid out how they are confronting the problems before them.

For Mark Sullivan, Catholic Health president and CEO, their collective work is the means that will get the region to the preferred end. Its not just about getting reimbursed, he said, it’s about providing better solutions at other alternative levels of care through different modalities and different technologies.

“We need to be more creative and innovative, so it’s important that we are focusing on not just delivering care,” Sullivan said, “but solving the health crisis in Western New York. Wanting to provide more care may not be the only solution. It’s about providing better health.”

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Child birth death rates remain high for African-American women

WKBW Channel 7 News | August 23, 2019

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world and it's much higher for African-American mothers.

7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley finds out how racial disparities are leading to maternal mortality.

“African-American mothers – in the nation - die at a three to four times greater rate than our Caucasian sisters do,” said Diann Holt, director, Baby Café on Buffalo’s east side.

Baby Café provides moms with important birth planning information.

“We're losing mothers at such an alarming rate – that it bothers me – it truly does bother me,” Holt declared.

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A call to action as poor health outcomes for many blacks persist

The Buffalo News | August 14, 2019

A black person can expect to live five years less in Erie County than someone who is white, and nearly seven years less than the New York State average.

The mortality rate for a black child in the county is more than twice as high as for a child who is white – and that black child is almost five times more likely to live in poverty.

Almost half of black children in Erie County do.

A teenage black girl is five times more likely to get pregnant, a black baby twice as likely to be born with a low birth weight, and an elderly black person almost twice as likely to be admitted for a hospital stay that could have been avoided with better preventative care.

“This is a crisis,” the Rev. George F. Nicholas said. “We want to change the narrative. We need to figure out a way to integrate the African American community into the resurgence of this region.”

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Downtown health fair helps western New Yorkers live better

WIVB Channel 4 News | July 29, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Doctors are helping locals live a healthier life.

G-Health Enterprises took over parts of downtown Buffalo for an annual health fair.

The idea is to break down the barriers that stop people from seeing health care professionals.

Doctors say it’s all about making the region healthier.

“It’s a way to touch different types of data,” G-Health Enterprises CEO Dr. Raul Vazquez said. “So, we look at the data out here in the real world as sometimes inside an office, or in the hospital, and this might give us an insight into what should be different with healthcare.”

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YourCare expands health care partnership with GBUACO

The Buffalo News | April 29, 2019

YourCare Health Plan and the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization this month extended their health care partnership another three years.

Rochester-based YourCare became the first Safety-Net health plan to contract with a Medicaid Accountable Care Organization in September 2016, a value-based contract agreement designed to cut costs and improve care for those on Medicaid.

In this kind of system, health care provider payments are more directly aligned with delivering care in a way that improves outcomes while reducing medical expenses. Providers and payers collaborate in a proactive approach to prevent disease, address transportation, housing and related needs – the so-called “social determinants of health” – and place an emphasis on education and medication compliance in a comprehensive effort to minimize expensive emergency room visits and hospital admissions.

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