By Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center
For care providers, it was the realization of a vision. For the patients it will serve, it was a dream come true. For everybody who attended, it was a wonderful party.
On Thursday, officials from Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and the Golisano Foundation celebrated the dedication and blessing of the Golisano Center for Community Health, the only outpatient center of its kind in Western New York and one of the very few in the U.S.
The $7-million, two-story, 26,000-square-foot building is supported by a $3.5 million gift from businessman and philanthropist Tom Golisano. It is the largest gift in Memorial's history.
The Golisano Center will provide comprehensive integrated health care services to adults with special needs and their families, breaking down barriers to care and supporting the Golisano Foundation's vision of inclusive health care for all - ensuring people with intellectual or developmental disabilities are in no way excluded from health care systems within their communities.
Open since mid-May, the Golisano Center houses a variety of services and programs, including primary care, Health Home care management and care coordination services, health insurance enrollment, community outreach, housing assistance and social service supports.
It also houses Rivershore Inc. - an affiliate of People Inc. - the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara and a learning hub that will offer internships and other workforce development opportunities in emerging health care fields such as care coordination, navigation and care management.
"Niagara Falls Memorial and Western New York are blessed to have benefactors such as Tom Golisano, Ann Costello and the Golisano Foundation. Their generosity and their commitment to our community are nothing short of inspirational," Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo said. "The faith they have shown in us will immeasurably improve the health status of many people who have special needs and who will never again have to worry about falling through the cracks."
Tom Golisano, founder of the Golisano Foundation, said, "Through our work increasing inclusive access to health care around the world, we know first-hand how people with intellectual disabilities remain largely invisible to health clinicians, health systems and the larger global health community. I am pleased to be able to help Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center carry out its vision to make it easier for area residents with disabilities to access comprehensive high-quality health care in one convenient location. The center and the collaborative partnerships that you have established have not only made your vision a reality but have made it a model for other communities."
Golisano Foundation Director Costello said, "This new center moves us from limited impact on health disparities for people with intellectual disabilities to impact of transformative scale. In addition to the care it will provide to people, the center also represents a community-wide strategy with a core objective to solve the problem or root cause - not simply implement another program. Through its plans to strengthen and grow the field by collaborating with existing service providers, the Golisano Center will most importantly improve the health delivery system by demonstrating a better way."
Judi Nolan Powell, Memorial's vice president for foundation and community relations, noted the Golisano Foundation's support was also important in enlisting major gifts in support of the center from the John R. Oishei Foundation and Independent Health.
"It really speaks to our commitment to providing the best in patient care to all who come through our doors," Nolan Powell said. "The opening of Golisano Center will give us opportunities to live out our mission as a community center for health and wellness in new and exciting ways."
The Golisano Center is located next door to Memorial's ER1 emergency department and Heart Center of Niagara. A pedestrian walkway connects Memorial's ER1/Heart Center building directly to the Golisano Center.
"Twenty-one months ago, we stood shoulder to shoulder on this spot with Ann Costello of the Golisano Foundation and outlined a vision for a center unlike any other, anywhere," Ruffolo said. "A center that would provide integrated health care services, including specialized dental and behavioral health care to adults with special needs and their families; one that would break down barriers to care and help people - all people - live with dignity. A center that also would be an economic engine, a research site, a learning hub and a center for workforce development ... creating new jobs and teaching care providers specialized skills.
"At the Golisano Center for Community Health, we are living into that vision."
About Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center
Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is a 171-bed regional hospital system serving patients from Western New York, Southern Ontario and beyond. Its inpatient services include cardiac, stroke, medical-surgical and behavioral health care. Satellite sites, including six primary care physician offices and the new Golisano Center for Community Health, provide a full range of medical, diagnostic and mental health services. Memorial's experienced surgeons specialize in minimally invasive and robotic bariatric, gynecological, gastrointestinal, orthopedic and neurosurgical procedures. To learn more, visit NFMMC.org.
About the Golisano Foundation
The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. devoted exclusively to supporting programs for people with intellectual disabilities. Through its targeted initiatives, it is a catalyst for transformation, encouraging communities to commit to inclusion, acceptance and opportunity for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and to provide services that empower individuals to make their way productively and creatively in their communities.
In addition to providing funding, the foundation also serves as a proactive partner with organizations that serve people with intellectual disabilities, working together to promote acceptance and inclusion in the community and workplace. To learn more, visit golisanofoundation.org.
Tom Golisano - entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader - is the founder and chairman of the board of Paychex Inc., headquartered in Rochester. With more than 12,000 employees and 100 office locations nationwide, Paychex is a leading national provider of payroll, human resource and benefit outsourcing solutions for more than a half-million small and medium-sized businesses.
Golisano's vision, perseverance and action have left an indelible mark on a broad spectrum of issues that touch our lives - in business, health care, education, voter policies, politics and tax reform. A fierce advocate for dignity and inclusion, Golisano applied his pioneering spirit to establish the Golisano Foundation to help make the world a better place for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
His personal philanthropic contributions to hospitals, educational institutions and other organizations have totaled more than $250 million.
Costello has served as director of the Golisano Foundation since 1999. She has worked for more than 25 years in the nonprofit sector, primarily in the areas of human service administration, strategic planning, fund distribution and organizational policy development. She has redefined the Golisano Foundation's role in the disability service arena as a proactive partner and catalyst for transformation, especially when it comes to the way communities support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.