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.”

Read more

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.

Read more

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.”

Read more

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.”

Read more

Major effort underway to get WNYers tested for Hepatitis C

WBFO 88.7 | July 29, 2019

Several million Americans and thousands of Western New Yorkers are infected with the Hepatitis C virus. Many don't know they are infected and don't know there is a cure.

Dr. Raul Vazquez runs Urban Family Practice on Buffalo's West Side and sees a range of patients.

"The thing about Hepatitis C is you don't know you have it and it's picked up based on sort of history that clues you to it or some lab findings," Vazquez said.

Hep C is an unusual health problem because most people don't know they have it, even when there is a quick and simple blood test to detect it. If they don't know they have it, they won't have a talk with their doctor about getting the pill which cures the disease in almost everyone. It also is a significant health problem because the long-term health impact can be lethal and it is expensive to the health care system.

"If these individuals develop cirrhosis, the long-term impact is that within five to 10 years later, 50% of them are going to develop some sort of complication and that could be cancer," Vazquez said.

Read more

Buffalo providers introduce new telehealth capabilities

Buffalo Business First | November 26, 2018

Two Buffalo health care providers are taking advantage of advances in technology to provide more care to patients at home.

The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN) has begun a partnership with Tyto Care to enable live telehealth visits and in-home medical examinations through its patient health navigators; while the Visiting Nursing Association of Western New York (VNA of WNY) will offer enhanced services for its home-based patients through a partnership with Health Recovery Solutions.

GBAUHN invested in 25 telehealth equipment kits, which its navigators will take to the homes of Medicaid patients it has deemed high utilizers of health services, with a goal of avoiding unnecessary ambulance calls, emergency room visits and inpatient stays. The navigators will use the portable, hand-held examination devices to allow doctors to remotely examine the patient’s heart, lungs, skin, ears, and throat as well as measure blood pressure, oxygen levels and body temperature.

Dr. Raul Vazquez, CEO at GBAUHN and G-Health Enterprises, said exam data can be sent to a patient portal for review, or connect with a physician in real-time for a live telehealth visit.

“We make a decision as to: 'Is this someone I can manage at home, or do I need to bring them into the office?' ” he said. “We have providers here in the office who guide the navigator through what they need.”

Read more

West Side program's focus on food and fitness gets remarkable results

The Buffalo News | November 21, 2018

Food and Fitness Gets Remarkable ResultsSarah Burks was a bit heavy three decades ago, while a student at South Park High School, but her weight took a slow, steady climb in the years that followed.

A diet anchored by fried chicken, hamburgers, French fries and soda pop combined with a work life on her feet in grocery and department stores, on farms, and, for about a decade, as a certified nursing assistant.

"I used to eat out a lot, eat lots of fast foods,” she said. “I was a Pepsi-aholic. I don't do that anymore.”

Burks, 55, lived most of those years outside New York City. She returned to Buffalo about a dozen years ago for a new job but things went south during her physical exam. Her blood pressure registered an alarming 170/100. She was nearly blind in her left eye. Obesity had taken a toll on her knees and back.

She has since been jobless, on disability assistance, but these days Burks talks about returning to work, thanks to a new wellness program set up last fall on the West Side to lift her and others on Medicaid to better health.

Read more

Health care increases reliance on patient apps, technology

Buffalo Business First | November 15, 2018

Remember a few years back when hospitals banned the use of mobile devices because they might mess with electronic life-saving machinery?

These days, hospital and health care leaders encourage the use of mobile devices before, during and after a hospital visit. It ties in with the growth of mobile apps and health IT systems that can be tools to improve health for individuals and populations.

Here’s a look at new apps and programs introduced in recent months by Western New York health care organizations.

R Kaleida Health introduced an emergency room check-in program called InQuicker. Patients can view wait times at area emergency departments, then check in online ahead of time at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital and DeGraff Memorial Hospital for non-acute conditions. The early check-in enables users to schedule a visit, describe their complaint and then wait at home rather than in the waiting room.

Read more

GBUAHN and Tyto Team Up for a Unique Telehealth Program

mHealth Times | November 13, 2018

GBUAHN is the first health organization in WNY to utilize Tyto Care’s cutting-edge solution for remote chronic care management

The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN), a Medicaid health home specializing in care coordination, has entered into a partnership with Tyto Care, an innovative telehealth company enabling live telehealth visits and comprehensive medical examinations anytime, anywhere. GBUAHN will be implementing Tyto Care’s telehealth platform and examination tools with their patient health navigators (PHNs) for use during in-home visits.

With over one third of New York residents on Medicaid or other government-funded health insurance plans, the demand for accessible, high-quality health care is at an all-time high. To meet these challenges through innovation, GBUAHN is offering Tyto Care’s solution to its members. The solution includes a portable, hand-held examination device and telehealth platform that enables doctors to remotely examine a patient’s heart, lungs, skin, ears, and throat, and measure blood pressure, oxygen levels, and body temperature. PHNs can use the TytoCare solution to assist patients in performing a remote “exam and forward” offline telehealth session, or to connect with a physician in real-time for a live telehealth visit.

Read more

GBUAHN and Tyto Team Up for a Unique Telehealth Program

Cision PR Newswire | November 13, 2018

GBUAHN is the first health organization in WNY to utilize Tyto Care’s cutting-edge solution for remote chronic care management

The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN), a Medicaid health home specializing in care coordination, has entered into a partnership with Tyto Care, an innovative telehealth company enabling live telehealth visits and comprehensive medical examinations anytime, anywhere. GBUAHN will be implementing Tyto Care’s telehealth platform and examination tools with their patient health navigators (PHNs) for use during in-home visits.

With over one third of New York residents on Medicaid or other government-funded health insurance plans, the demand for accessible, high-quality health care is at an all-time high. To meet these challenges through innovation, GBUAHN is offering Tyto Care’s solution to its members. The solution includes a portable, hand-held examination device and telehealth platform that enables doctors to remotely examine a patient’s heart, lungs, skin, ears, and throat, and measure blood pressure, oxygen levels, and body temperature. PHNs can use the TytoCare solution to assist patients in performing a remote “exam and forward” offline telehealth session, or to connect with a physician in real-time for a live telehealth visit.

Read more

Meet Your Doctor

In Good Health | June 22, 2018

Meet Your DoctorRaul Vazquez, M.D. - Visionary doctor and founder of GBUAHN heavily focuses on quality care and social aspects of health while keeping an eye on costs.

Q: We wanted to talk about your work with Medicaid patients over the years.

A: We run what’s called G-Health Enterprises. We created so many groups over the years that it started to almost sound like they were competing with each other, so we put them all under one umbrella, G Health Enterprises. I started out in 1996 opening a private family practice in the inner city, Urban Family Practice. During that time, we did great work and, in 2003, built a facility. I’ve been trying to address the social aspects of health since 1996. Transportation, housing, food, those things often interfere with patient care. We built the facility in 2003 to have patients be able to get more services like urgent care, some surgeries, X-rays on site, things we hadn’t been able to do prior to that.

Q: How did you connect with other physicians?

A: From there I identified eight physicians who were kind of safety net physicians in the area and organized them around 2008, 2009. We formed an independent practice association, Buffalo United, and that practice association was a corporate platform under which we could work together. Whenever you have doctors working together on something, there are a lot of legal regulations that can get you into trouble.

Read more

The future of health care: Increased cooperation benefits all

Buffalo Business First | August 3, 2018

Leaders of four area health providersExecutives of four prominent health care organizations in Buffalo see a lot more togetherness when they look down the road to 2023.

That five-year prediction is significant given that Buffalo Medical Group, Erie County Medical Center, G-Health Enterprises and Kaleida Health have competed for patients, providers and innovation.

But cooperation was the sentiment among the four at the Future of Health Care Round Table Discussion held recently at Business First.

Buffalo Medical Group CEO Daniel Scully seemed to capture the executives’ shared view when he said, “I see a stronger partnership with all the players here. Quality and access will only come through stronger partnerships with providers in this community.”

Community-based care strikes at the heart of Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network. In providing care, CEO Dr. Raul Vazquez takes into consideration the impact of patients’ lifestyles and living arrangements. That’s why his practice will send vans to pick up patients, employ navigators to guide patients through the health care system and do remote health monitoring to keep patients, as much as possible, in the lower-cost settings. You avoid an urgent care visit; you avoid an ER visit. The avoidable ER visits need to go into primary care. It’s all about primary care,” Vazquez said. “If you really want to address the issue, primary care needs to be a player.”

Read more    See PDF

Bridging Buffalo's gap between poverty, health care

The Buffalo News | June 10, 2018

Jesse Cole imagined himself becoming a highly paid physician working in a fancy hospital, just like those featured on television shows.

"That would be my career," said Cole, who was raised in suburban Maryland and came to Buffalo to study medicine.

But his thinking shifted.

Why? Because of the semester he and 13 fellow students at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences spent in one of Buffalo's poorest neighborhoods.

Through the fledgling Health in the Neighborhood course, first-year students experienced life in an underdeveloped, mostly black community. Their firsthand look at housing blight, economic challenges, limited access to grocery stores – coupled with health inequities and disparities – resonated deeply as they train to become the next generation of doctors.

Read more

Neighborhood on Buffalo's East Side gets its own primary health clinic

WKBW Channel 7 | June 3, 2018

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Urban Family Practice on Jefferson Street is the only primary care facility in the neighborhood, and its CEO hopes it makes strides to improve the area.

When the UB Family Medicine center closed last year, the surrounding neighborhood was left without a primary care clinic.

Early in 2018 the Urban Family Practice took its place, and its CEO Dr. Raul Vazquez wants it to be the difference in its neighborhood.

Read more

Health care clinic nearly shut down now serving Buffalo community

Spectrum News | June 2, 2018

BUFFALO, N.Y. — "It's something good that we really need in our lives today especially in the urban neighborhoods," said Alvia Singleton.

East side resident Alvia Singleton is talking about access to health care services. That's why he came here to the Urban Family Practice's Open House.

I came out her today to see what was going on which is something good because I didn't have a primary doctor or anything like that," said Singleton.

And Singleton is not alone. Many residents in this neighborhood off of Jefferson Avenue have no access to basic health care.

"For years I taught the residency program that was here at UB. I retired to become the Chief Medical Officer for Urban Family Practice and a year later they decide to close the residency program which left basically a primary care desert in this area," said Chet Fox, MD. Urban Family Practice, Chief Medical Officer.

Read more

A new care and prevention center on Niagara St.

Buffalo Magazine | March 23, 2018

East Side LocationJust months after the groundbreaking of the $6-million facility on Niagara Street, Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network CEO Dr. Raul Vazquez seems pleased with the success doctors, nurses, specialists and care coordinators are having at touching the lives of patients who otherwise might fall between the cracks, lost to addiction or disease.

The approximately 200 staff members employed at GBUAHN are proud of the new four-story building, eager to show off its labyrinth of corridors, call centers, consultation rooms and offices. This place has become not just a job opportunity, they say, but a source of pride on Buffalo’s West Side. And they’re eager to tell the stories of success and thanks they’ve seen and heard firsthand in treating the area’s Medicaid participants as a Lead Health Home.

Not one to sit still, Vazquez knows the progress made addressing healthcare for Buffalo’s urban populations is only just beginning. And largely through his own funding, he’s ready to think big.

“I would rather wear that hat than have somebody else wear it for me,” Vazquez, a Bronx native and University at Buffalo Medical School graduate, says.

Read more

BizTalk: A new model for primary medical care

The Buffalo News | March 9, 2018

A new model for primary medical careThe front of the Urban Family Practice office on Jefferson Avenue looks as unassuming as it gets along a nondescript strip mall on the city's East Side.

But inside, Drs. Raul Vazquez and Chet Fox are building what they see as the primary care medical practice of the future.

They're following a recipe Vazquez is using on the West Side, where he recently opened a new $6 million building that serves as the headquarters for his Urban Family Practice, as well as an assortment of newer ways to deliver and pay for care. These include value-based arrangements in which doctors and hospitals take on more of the financial risk of ensuring that their patients receive the services they need.

One of the new payment models is the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization operated in partnership with YourCare Health Plan, a Rochester insurer. The organization, which includes doctors from throughout Buffalo, is responsible for thousands of Medicaid patients in a contract that imposes quality measures and puts the doctors at financial risk for costs.

Read more

GBUAHN Reaches 8000 Member Milestone

Buffalo Rising | February 6, 2018

Since the grand opening of its new Lower West Side facility in September 2017, Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN) has been growing by leaps and bounds. As of Friday, February 1 of this year, the healthcare network has enrolled a whopping 8000 members.

The incredible growth is being attributed to myriad factors. Not only did GBUAHN build state of the art facilities, the Lower West Side campus is also conveniently located in a neighborhood that serves its primary client base. GBUAHN’s new multi-million-dollar medical facility at 505 7th Street (learn more), is located directly behind 564 Niagara Street, Building 2.

GBUAHN acknowledges that its continued growth is partially due to its convenient location. But it also states that its clients appreciate the effort that goes into helping them to navigate the oft-complex Medicaid system. GBUAHN has also been making significant strides in ensuring that its patients have access to maintenance care for chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. With the help of dietitians, and other health-oriented resources, the goal is to keep patients healthy, rather than seeing them rolling through the door for emergency visits. The result from all of these initiatives is a tripling of size of the healthcare network over the last five years.

Read more

Healthcare facility looking to fill void on East Side

WIVB Channel 4 News | January 22, 2018

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Within hours of opening its doors, more than a dozen new patients have walked into the Urban Family Practice facility on Jefferson Avenue.

“I think healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” said Dr. Raul Vazquez, the CEO at the healthcare facility.

He says their mission is to increase access to high quality healthcare.

“It’s an area of need when it comes to preventative and chronic diseases so it’s important for us to be here,” said Dr. Vazquez. “Some zip codes are just deserts for healthcare.”

Many of those zip codes are on the East Side where, in the last six months, two of the main providers up and moved, leaving thousands of people without access to care.

Read more

Urban Family Practice opens East Side location

The Buffalo News | January 22, 2018

East Side LocationUrban Family Practice opened its second location Monday at 1315 Jefferson Ave. in the former location of the University at Buffalo Family Medicine Clinic, filling a gap in basic medical services left by the recent closure of several offices.

Last June, 7,000 patients, mainly East Side residents, received a letter stating that UB Family Medicine was closing its primary care clinic on Jefferson Avenue because of difficulties recruiting physicians to the practice to supervise the training of residents there.

Dr. Raul Vazquez, chief executive officer of Urban Family Practice on Niagara Street, purchased the clinic site. The new Jefferson Avenue Urban Family Practice will be operated by Dr. Chet Fox, a former professor at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences who used to work at the clinic.

Read more

Buffalo medical practice adds second city site

Buffalo Business First | January 22, 2018

Second City SiteA Buffalo primary care medical practice has opened a second site in the city, taking over an East Side site previously operated by the University at Buffalo.

Urban Family Practice, part of the G-Health Enterprises, reopened the practice Jan. 22 at Jefferson and West Utica. UB Family Medicine shuttered the site last June.

The location will complement Urban Family Practice’s main site on 7th Street on Buffalo’s West Side.

Read more

Buffalo doctor says ACA still alive despite passage of tax bill

Spectrum News | December 21, 2017

One WNY doctor says despite President Trump pronouncing the Affordable Care Act "dead" with the passage of the Republican's tax plan, the health care plan is still very much alive.

On Wednesday, Trump said the provision in the tax plan that eliminates the individual mandate effectively repeals the Affordable Care Act.

The individual mandate imposed a tax penalty on any eligible person who didn't purchase insurance.

The head of the Greater Buffalo United Accountability Healthcare Network says the individual mandate was important to funding the ACA, but most of the policy is still in place.

Read more

GBUAHN answers the call for help in the wake of Hurricane Maria

Panorama Hispano News | December 20, 2018

GBUAHN answers the call(BUFFALO, N.Y. ) – The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN) teamed up with WIVB-TV News4 on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 to host a telethon for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The telethon yielded more than $36,500 in donations for those who were forced to flee their homes due to the natural disaster.

Volunteers from GBUAHN and members of the Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Fund answered close to 1,000 calls from donors. WIVB-TV reporter/anchors Christy Kern and Nalina Shapiro provided live televised updates throughout the event, and interviewed GBUAHN Chief Executive Officer Dr. Raul Vazquez several times during the telethon.

“It’s not like ‘oh this happened, things are better.’ Things are still not good,” said Dr. Vazquez during News4’s 6:00 p.m. broadcast. “And a lot of these people are coming (to Buffalo), so that’s what we’re doing here – trying to support them.”

Dr. Vazquez and GBUAHN Chief Systems Officer Toni Vazquez (on behalf of the Raul and Toni Vazquez Foundation) donated a total of $1,500. All of the funds raised in the telethon will go to Hurricane Maria survivors who are resettling in Buffalo and Western New York and will be used toward housing, furniture, clothing, appliances, etc.

Read more

News 4 Teams with Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria Relief Fund Committee for Telethon

WIVB Channel 4 | December 11, 2017

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It has been almost three months since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.

As of Tuesday morning, only 64 percent of the island has power.

News 4 and the Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria Relief Fund Committee have teamed up to help the thousands of people in Puerto Rico that are still struggling.

Read more