Release Date: December 11, 2006
The testimony of David L. Dunn, MD., Ph.D., vice president for health sciences at the University at Buffalo, at today's New York State Senate Public Hearing on the Berger Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century gives UB the opportunity to outline its position on the commission's recommendations for Western New York. Dunn served as chairman of the Western Region Advisory Committee to the Berger Commission. Dunn's testimony presented at the hearing, held in the Center for Tomorrow on the UB North (Amherst) Campus, follows:
As a public research university with a significant focus on biomedical research and a major role in the delivery of health care in Western New York, the University at Buffalo is dedicated to ensuring that our region develops a world-class, cutting-edge health-care system.
Through the five schools that constitute the university's Academic Health Center, as well as the university's residency and fellowship training programs, UB trains on average seven of every 10 health-care practitioners in Western New York. In addition to physicians, these individuals include dentists, nurses, pharmacists and public-health experts.
To be most effective in preparing the health-care professionals of tomorrow, our educational and training programs must be conducted in state-of-the-art facilities operated by organizations with the financial ability to invest in 21st-century programs and equipment.
Consolidation of facilities will help strengthen and focus UB's programs, which now are spread across facilities, while at the same time assuring those in training are exposed to the critical mass of patients and a range of cases required to help them develop and hone diagnostic and treatment skills and conduct clinical trials to find new ways to prevent and cure human disease.
Dedicated centers of excellence in areas such as transplantation and cardiac care -- as opposed to costly duplication of services -- will provide optimum training experiences in specialty areas for physicians and other health-care professionals.
I mention these two specific examples because of my personal familiarity with them. Prior to assuming my position here at UB a little over a year ago, I was professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota. This department was the birthplace of open-heart surgery, and became world-renowned for the innovative strategies that were developed at a single academic hospital to treat formerly untreatable heart problems. Subsequently, the department embarked upon groundbreaking research and clinical care in the field of transplantation.
I trained there in general surgery and transplantation, stayed on as a faculty member and was a busy academic surgeon there for nearly two decades. The department that I led performed over 200 kidney transplants per year at a single center, and was able to advance the field through a series of clinical trials and state-of-the-art clinical care, moving into areas such as treating diabetes through pancreas transplantation and working to cure diabetes using cellular transplants.
Here in Western New York, we have numerous heart treatment programs and two relatively small kidney-transplant programs. We should strive to consolidate these specialized programs and other similar types of programs. We have the opportunity to do what other places across the country have done so well -- to create centers of excellence. The added bonus for Western New York is that doing so will decrease health-care costs and create affordable, accessible, high-quality care at a single center dedicated to such endeavors, at the same time allowing us to recruit the best and brightest health-care givers and trainees.
UB strongly encourages the community to consider the recommendations of the Berger Commission on Health Care Facilities as an opportunity to create a health-care delivery system for the region that will assure the highest quality of care for patients in Western New York, as well the highest quality of training for those who will meet their future health-care needs.