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Old News: Hospital Implosion Kills 12-year-old Girl

As Artvoice reported on September 22, the implosion of the former Kaleida Gates Circle hospital tower is not the sort of event the local media should be promoting as a wholesome spectacle—yet the Buffalo News continues to pump up the hype machine.

Click here to read about the 1997 implosion of the Royal Canberra Hospital in Australia.

However, the implosion of the Royal Canberra Hospital was a terrible failure. The main building did not fully disintegrate and had to be later manually demolished. But far worse, the explosion was not contained on the site and large pieces of debris were projected towards spectators situated 500 metres away on the opposite side of the Lake, in a location that nobody considered unsafe or inappropriate. A twelve-year-old girl, Katie Bender, was killed instantly, and nine other people were injured. Large fragments of masonry and metal were found 650 metres from the demolition site.

Read the comments on YouTube.


500 feet should be good. Nevermind if 650 meters wasn't enough in Canberra.

500 feet should be good. Never mind if 500 meters wasn’t enough in Canberra.

Gates Circle Hospital Implosion Not the Best Live Spectator Sport

As a disclaimer to this Buffalo News story projecting a “big crowd” for the planned October 3 implosion of the former Kaleida Health Millard Fillmore Gates Circle hospital, there are very real air quality concerns associated with such demolitions that potential spectators and nearby residents should know about.

Below is a map showing the implosion site, with the hospital shaded red.

OSC Street Closure_Implosion











(Note the “Hospitality Area” on the roof of the parking ramp, near the Command Center!)

Pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars are to be outside the red boundary when the implosion takes place at 7am. If you live within the red boundary, your best bet is to remain inside your house until the dust settles—at least an hour after the blast, according to this study by Johns Hopkins University, published in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association.

From the study:

Demolition by implosion is conducted by using

nitroglycerine-based dynamite to strategically destroy

load-bearing structures, allowing the building to collapse

onto itself. Depending on the timing and location of

charges, implosion contractors are able to predetermine

the direction of the collapse and subsequent debris pile.3

(The demolition that is the subject of this paper was

conducted by collapsing a high-rise on top of adjacent

smaller buildings, thereby achieving multiple building

demolitions from a single implosion.) For economic purposes

and to minimize the emission of hazardous chemicals

during demolition or debris removal, recyclable (e.g.,

plumbing and ventilation) and hazardous materials (e.g.,

asbestos and lead [Pb]), respectively, are removed before

the implosion.4 Asbestos removal is federally regulated

under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air

Pollutants (NESHAP, 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M). Depending

on proximity, adjacent buildings may be draped with a

heavy-gauge plastic or woven vinyl to prevent damage

from flying debris. Such a precaution likely has a secondary

benefit of reducing dust infiltration. Emissions and

exposure also can be affected by meteorology. Specific

criteria are site-and contractor-dependent; however, in

general, light precipitation with winds in the direction of

sparse population is desirable. Post-implosion settled dust

control strategies include suppression with water and vacuum

street cleaners.


Despite these precautions, the potential for human

exposure to air contaminants from urban building implosions

is great because of a combination of high population

density, the enormous particulate matter (PM) emission

rate, and the resulting high PM concentrations. The

exposure potential is further exacerbated by the spectacle

of the event and media promotion that brings community

residents outdoors and to the site, swelling the exposed

population. In addition to the short-term exposure

concern associated with the airborne PM at the time of

the implosion, there is the potential for longer-term exposure

to PM that settles across the community and then

is available to be resuspended and inhaled or ingested after hand-to-mouth contact.

Here’s a more current Google map of the area, showing the current pile of rubble from the partial demolition of the hospital buildings that has been taking place all summer. Also, with the white descriptive boxes removed, you can more easily see just how many homes and residences are within the blast zone. It will be a matter of which way the wind blows that morning to see who gets the worst of the fallout.

DON'T Get to Gates!

DON’T Get to Gates!











Here are a few bullet points for would-be spectators and nearby residents, from the study:

Stay away from the implosion. Watch it on TV especially if you are very young, elderly, have immune problems, or a lung disease like asthma.

Stay indoors. If you live near the implosion, keep your doors and windows closed before and for one hour after the implosion.

Implosion dust can get indoors. Use a damp cloth or mop to clean dust from surfaces. Don’t vacuum the dust. Vacuuming stirs the dust back up into the air.

Rinse sidewalks and door stoops with a hose. The dust settles on outdoor surfaces near or downwind from the implosion.

Remove shoes or use a doormat. This will keep the dust from being carried inside.

Ontario Specialty Contracting, the demolition company performing the planned collapse, is hosting an informational session to answer questions on what the implosion entails at the parking lot located at 637 Linwood Avenue at 5pm on Thursday, September 24.


Public Meetings on Plans to Move Children’s Hospital Tonight, Tomorrow!

Kaleida Health and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus would like you to know the following:

As required by the City of Buffalo Planning Board, we have scheduled a meeting to update any surrounding resident or business person interested in an update on Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo’s plans for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 from 5:30 to 7:00 pm in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, New York.

Please invite anyone who is interested in attending to receive an update on these plans in person from the physician and administrative leadership for this project.

We thank you for your time and hope to see you there.

Click here to download the notice. You might not have gotten the heads up, since the invite wasn’t very widely circulated. Artvoice didn’t even receive the notice, and our office is across the street from the medical campus. Somebody leaked it to us.

Then, the medical journal Business First posted this story a couple hours ago, saying there’s also a meeting tonight.

From the story:

Kaleida has issued monthly updates on progress for the new hospital. Among the updates for June:

  • The hospital’s physician strategic planning committee and its architect, Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott of Boston, are continuing to explore clinical planning and program design for the new inpatient tower. Along with the physician committee, 26 user groups are now engaged in producing a plan for the new ambulatory space and a new hospital.
  • Ciminelli Real Estate is moving toward final site approval for its new 500,000-square-foot medical office building at Main and High streets, which will house an 85,000-square-foot ambulatory care center. Ciminelli is working with both Kaleida and the University at Buffalo    on the design, with plans to begin site work in August, with completion in about 18 months. Ciminelli is also coordinating architectural and engineering plans with the two adjacent projects, the new Women and Children’s Hospital as well as the new medical school for UB.
  • The Buffalo Planning Board has approved the Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo environmental impact statement (EIS). At its May meeting, the board also discussed initial building massing, floor plates and hospital access for the new building. Site plan approval for the inpatient tower project is the next milestone.

Looks like the folks around Elmwood and Hodge will be getting a taste of what the neighborhood around Gates Circle is still adjusting to—life in the shadow of a huge vacant building thanks to the good corporate citizens at Kaleida Health.


Great Lakes Health Retreat in Progress

retreatAs I write this post, the Great Lakes Health system is conducting a private retreat at the Hyatt Regency downtown. The event is closed to the public and press.

The retreat follows a half-hour “open meeting” conducted by GLH board chair Robert Gioia, and board members Edward Walsh, Jr., Sharon L. Hanson, and Kevin E. Cichocki, D.C..

At the end of the brief presentation (click here for the outline), the two reporters present were told to leave. Below are screen shots of the various “breakout” meetings taking place in private.

daily events zero
first second



And let’s not forget lunch…


Wonder what’s on the menu?

When you visit the Great Lakes Health Web site and read that they are “unveiling a bold new healthcare delivery system for Western New York,” what they really mean, obviously, is that they are “unveiling” it to one another, behind closed doors.

The Western New York public will then have the opportunity to live, and die, with their decisions.

The High Price of Secrecy


On April Fool’s Day we filed a FOIL request with Great Lakes Health System of Western New York, the entity formerly known as Newco, that was created by the Berger Commission to consolidate private not for profit Kaleida Health and Erie County Medical Center, a public benefit corporation.

Last Wednesday (May 20), we received some of the documents we requested on a disk. This was a gracious gesture, since at 25 cents a page, we would have had to pay over $30 for hard copies of the legal bills paid by Western New York Health System (WNYHS) and Kaleida Health to the law firm Garfunkel, Wild & Travis, P.C., of Great Neck, Long Island from November 1, 2007 through April 1, 2009. Click here to see all 128 pages of legal bills.

It appears the firm took in close to $400,000 handling various legal matters for the new entity, including around $165,000 representing Great Lakes Health in the Reese v. Daines case, which was brought seeking openness to board meetings and records for the press and public after Freedom of Information requests had been denied to this newspaper.

That’s the case they lost on September 12, 2008, when Hon Patrick H. NeMoyer ruled that WNYHS must “adhere to the requirements of the Open Meetings Law until such time as the hospital merger is completed and ECMCC is dissolved as a public benefit corporation.”

Rather than accept that ruling and abide by the law, the entity now known as Great Lakes Health decided to battle on in the courts, in the interest of darkness and secrecy, and wound up losing that too, unanimously, in the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Rochester on May 1, 2009.

The only thing they got from the appeal was a reversal of Judge NeMoyer’s ruling that awarded attorney’s fees to Peter A. Reese, who argued the case against WNYHS. Had they simply paid Reese’s bill, it would have saved them a lot of money, judging by the $480/hour Garfunkel, Wild & Travis attorney Leonard M. Rosenberg charged them, for example.

If you download the pdf available above, check out invoice number 197668 dated January 31, 2009. Rosenberg made almost $15,000 for thirty hours of work that was laughed out of court. Lower members of the firm brought that one bill to $24,160.21. That amount is typical of the sums paid on a monthly basis to a law firm located on Long Island by the group that claims it is “unveiling a bold, new model of healthcare delivery for Western New York.

Isn’t it also nice to hear that partner Robert Andrew Wild was named Board Chair for United Way of Long Island according to the law firm’s Web site? I wonder how much he donated to the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, after sucking so much money from the area in a failed attempt to keep the residents of our region completely in the dark about the future of our health care.

Meanwhile the matter of Reese v. Daines is headed for the textbooks. An updated civil practice law book published by Matthew Bender & Co., will be covering the successful Article 78 petition, so all New York State attorneys can learn from the case. Even the high priced ones in Great Neck.

Not-So-Open Meeting Tomorrow Morning

Sorry for the short notice, but it appears there will in fact be a Great Lakes Health Board of Directors meeting at WNED studios tomorrow, December 10, at 8:30am.

I learned this yesterday from Betsy Baumler, James Kaskie’s secretary. Kaskie is the President and CEO of both Great Lakes Health and also Kaleida Health—both entities are located at 100 High Street.

The Open Meetings Law says, “Public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled at least one week prior thereto shall be given to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at least seventy-two hours before such meeting.” I asked her why we didn’t get a notice of the meeting here at Artvoice. She asked if I would like to receive a notice. I told her it would be nice, being a member of the media, and all. She asked for my fax number and I gave it to her. Now here it is after 5pm, some 15 hours before a public meeting, and still no invite in our fax machine at Artvoice. Was it something I said?

Figuring that might happen, I called the downtown library and spoke to Linda Bohen, the person to whom Baumler told me she’d sent the meeting notice last Thursday. Bohen forwarded the email to me, in which Baumler writes: “Could you replace the posting sent to you yesterday from Pat Grasha at ECMC with the attached?  The lawyers have added a paragraph to the bottom.”

You can read the notice, including the additional paragraph at the bottom by clicking here. As you can see, this open meeting will differ from most open meetings in that much of it will be conducted in either closed session or executive session. So much for transparency.

Last Friday, I asked Baumler about all the meetings of the committees within what was then Western New York Health System, or NewCo, and is now known as Great Lakes Health System of Western New York, Inc. I did so since, after all, the Open Meetings Law says, “‘Public body’ means any entity, for which a quorum is required in order to conduct public business and which consists of two or more members, performing a governmental function for the state or for an agency or department thereof, of for a public corporation as defined in section sixty-six of the general construction law, or committee or subcommittee or other similar body of such public body.”

She said she’d check with their lawyers, to see if she could divulge the dates those meetings took place. She didn’t call back, so I called her yesterday. She said she was about to go into a conference call with counsel and would call me back. She didn’t. At 4:50pm I called her back, and she said that counsel said I would have to file a FOIL request to find out when those meetings had taken place.

I told her I just wanted the dates so I could be more specific when I submitted my FOIL request. She said she couldn’t tell me. “OK, but you’ve told me there are four committees. Can you tell me what those four committees are called, so I could include that in my FOIL request?” No. “You’ll have to file a FOIL requesting that information.” She also said I should call the Great Lakes lawyers and ask them. Right.

In the interest of providing you some disclosure, I could post the redacted Newco meeting minutes provided to me by their lawyers (Mr. Wild) in late November.

But to save time, you can click here and read the meeting minutes provided to me by ECMC many months ago. In this document, I went through and highlighted all the crucial elements that the Great Lakes lawyers down in Great Neck, NY, chose to white-out, feeling the people of Western New York have no right to know.

BNMC Open Meeting Tonight

Tonight at 6:30pm in the auditorium of the downtown library, everyone is invited to attend a public hearing on the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus—North End Projects. Among the projects planned are a 300,000 square foot Medical Office Building to be owned and operated by Ciminelli Development Company, Inc., which will lease medical office space to a variety of tenants. Also planned is a 200,000 square foot skilled nursing facility, and a “multi-modal transportation structure that can accommodate 1,200 to 1,600 cars”—not to be confused with a parking garage.

The most ballyhooed project is the 500,000-600,000 square foot Global Vascular Institute, which, according to the report sponsored by BNMC, Kaleida Health, Ciminelli Development Compan, Inc, and the University at Buffalo, will be a “first-of-its-kind, multi-dimensional medical institute focused on the full spectrum of vascular health care, and will bring together physicians, researchers and educators to address heart and vascular diseases.” The report states that the Institute will be operated by Kaleida Health and the University at Buffalo.

The plans call for the removal of six residential structures, the closure of Goodrich Street, the demolition of the Community Mental Health Facility, and would require the removal of two properties eligible for recognition by the National Register of Historic Places.

The lead agency holding tonight’s meeting is the City of Buffalo Planning Board. The report, and relevant maps can be downloaded at the links below.



The deadline for written comments regarding the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement is November 18, 2008. Written comments should be sent to:

William P. Grillo

c/o City of Buffalo Planning Board

901 City Hall

Buffalo, NY 14202