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Memorial Medical Center Cardiac/Stroke Unit Gets Boost from John R. Oishei Foundation, Mayor and City Council

Comedian Jeff Wozer

Last night, the Niagara Falls City Council approved Mayor Paul A. Dyster’s request for a $250,000 city grant for Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center (NFMMC). The vote was 4 to 0. The money is earmarked to assist in funding the construction of a new Cardiac/Stroke Care Center at the hospital.

The grant, phased over two years, will utilize casino funds.

In 2013, NFMMC was awarded a $750,000 challenge grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation for the 25-bed center, which is planned to include all private rooms, a patient/family resource room, a teaching facility, on-site rehabilitation therapy facilities, advanced technology promoting patient safety. and nursing stations located to place nurses closer to their patients.

As a challenge grant, the Oishei grant investment had to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the hospital. The bequest by the city completes the Oishei challenge match.

“To reverse the trend of poverty, strategic partnerships are needed to accomplish more, faster. We must invest in our top employers, improve our residents’ access to quality health care, and strengthen our city’s core neighborhood to succeed in this economy,” said Mayor Dyster. “Partnering with the hospital and the Oishei Foundation on the Cardiac/Stroke Center project is a strategic investment on each of those fronts."

With 1,100 employees, Memorial Hospital is the City’s third largest employer.

The new cardiac center was planned in response to alarming statistics that show Niagara County’s age-adjusted death rate for cardiovascular disease to be nearly twice the national average. In 2013, over 1,500 patients were hospitalized in NFMMC’s existing cardiac/stroke unit. The current unit has been in operation for over 40 years and, according to hospital CEO and President Joseph Ruffolo, it needs to be overhauled to meet growing patient demand.

“The Niagara region continues to experience some of the worst rates of cardiovascular disease in the nation," Ruffolo said. "A new advanced inpatient Cardiac/Stroke Care Center will provide patients with the utmost in comfort, safety and patient centered care."

The Oishei Foundation’s $750,000 successful challenge grant is the latest of the foundation's Niagara Falls and Niagara County investments.

For the council, this was a rare show of unanimity.

“The pro-active family-centered approach of this facility is of immense benefit to our city, because, as so many of us know, a major illness can be devastating to the entire family," said Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti.

Councilman Andrew Touma said, “Memorial has become a regional model for providing state-of-the-art care to the populations that need it most. We have a real opportunity … to provide an innovative approach to cardiac - stroke treatment for those in our community that are affected by these devastating conditions.”

Councilman Glenn Choolokian, a frequent critic of the mayor, sided with him on this vote.

"Although I am generally against casino money being used to fund private entities, this is a good, concrete project that will help the community. Casino money should be spent on things that will last a lifetime, and affect the daily lives for all the families of Niagara Falls. Spending casino money on this project is infinitely better than blowing it on a Hard Rock concert or another Holiday Market fiasco." Council President Charles Walker abstained from voting since he is employed at the hospital as a community relations specialist. Councilman Robert Anderson also supported the measure.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Mar 18, 2014