HORNELL A community-based task force has been charged with developing "a business plan for sustainable healthcare in Hornell," St. James Mercy Hospital officials say.

The task force, which includes a mixture of elected and business leaders, physicians, hospital administrators and financial professionals, is holding weekly meetings. The panel has pledged to complete the plan within 90 days.

The task force is considered a key component in the hospital's effort to implement a "new vision" for healthcare in Hornell. That "vision" is expected to signal a significant transition for the hospital, with a reduction in the "depth and range of services" offered by St. James Mercy, officials indicate. The plan will serve as a guide for the hospital, outlining "the services the community needs most," St. James Mercy said in a news release.

At the same time, hospital leaders say, St. James Mercy is committed to maintaining high-quality, "compassionate care" for the Hornell community as it undertakes new initiatives, including the Center for Orthopedic Care in partnership with Rochester General Hospital.

"With the formation of the New Vision Task Force, we have assembled a team with expertise in rural healthcare, tertiary healthcare, and finance that understands what will be needed to sustain high-quality healthcare in Hornell, along with physician leaders and community stakeholders, who understand the needs of the community," said Jennifer Sullivan, interim president and chief executive officer of St. James Mercy Hospital.

Led by Sullivan, task force members include Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan; Dr. Bruce MacKellar; Dr. Spencer Annabel; Dr. Ismail Mehr; Alstom managing director Mark Darrow; TTA Systems, LLC president Dhruv Sharma; Stewart Putnam, special assistant to the CEO, Unity Health Systems; and Stan Konopko, the interim chief financial officer at St. James Mercy Hospital.

As the task force gets to work, the hospital will host a "town hall-type" meeting open to the public this Wednesday. The meeting will take place Wednesday night, beginning at 6:30 p.m., in the auditorium at Hornell High School.

The forum, according to officials, will give the hospital's top administrator the opportunity to explain the developing strategy for growth and sustainability and introduce the task force, while affording the public a chance to ask questions.

The Spectator asked Sullivan about the importance to the hospital of Wednesday's community gathering.

"I am eager to share the framework of the New Vision with the entire community," she responded by email. "Hornell is a community that comes together around large issues and makes a difference. In order to realize the New Vision, we need the support of our patients and neighbors."

Sullivan said the new vision will build on St. James' 120 year track record of quality care provided by "dedicated employees, medical staff and volunteers."

"They are truly what makes St. James Mercy Hospital a great organization, one that we all can be proud of," she said.