By Pat Bradley
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center used to be a little community hospital with a busy emergency department and a big heart.
Today, it is much, much more. Memorial enjoys an international reputation as a center for health and wellness that offers exceptional care to patients and performs complex, high-end surgical procedures. It delivers lifesaving stroke and cardiac care, operates a nationally recognized center for healing chronic wounds and offers a wide range of outpatient services at nine convenient locations across the Greater Niagara Region.
"We consider ourselves a regional center for health and wellness, and we set very high standards for quality care," said Vice President for Community Relations Judi Nolan Powell. "We also like to think we are a step ahead of the rest."
Case in point: This spring, Memorial opened one of the few centers in the U.S. devoted to the care of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Golisano Center for Community Health is named for former Buffalo Sabres owner B. Tom Golisano, who donated $3.5 million to support its construction.
"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," Golisano said when it opened.
Memorial is also a trailblazer when it comes to breaking down other barriers such as lack of accessibility that medically underserved populations sometimes encounter. Earlier this year it formed an alliance with three other Western New York providers - Catholic Health System, Erie County Medical Center and Kaleida Health - to jointly own and operate a cardiac catheterization laboratory on Memorial's downtown Niagara Falls campus.
The first such facility
in the Niagara region, it will maintain 24/7/365 capabilities to perform
emergency and scheduled elective procedures and interventions including cardiac
angiography, stent placement and balloon
"It will also eliminate glaring disparities in the heart care available to African-Americans, Native Americans, residents of low-income households, people challenged by mental health issues and those who are developmentally or intellectually disabled," Memorial President and CEO Joseph Ruffolo said of the new facility, which will open next spring.
A patient undergoes a procedure in the new Interventional Radiology Suite at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. (Submitted photo)
The following year - 2018 - will see the opening of a new, $4.3 million inpatient cardiac and stroke care unit. The modern, 25-bed facility "will help immensely when the new cardiac catheterization lab opens," said Chief of Cardiology Dr. Sachin Wadhawan, who resides in Ontario. "Overall, I think this represents another great step in establishing a state-of-the-art cardiac facility at Memorial."
Over the past several years, Memorial has transformed itself from a safety net community hospital to a regional center for health and wellness. Primary care offices in Grand Island, Lewiston, Wheatfield, North Tonawanda and Niagara Falls serve as a front door to Memorial's services for tens of thousands of area residents, and its two OB/GYN Centers - in Niagara Falls and Wheatfield - provide high-end care to women from across Western New York.
Led by Chief of Surgery Dr. Venkat Kolli, Memorial surgeons perform gastric, orthopedic, head and neck, gynecologic, breast and neurosurgery procedures. Many procedures are done laparoscopically or robotically to minimize bleeding and recovery times.
The medical center's comprehensive bariatric surgery program has been a godsend for obese patients who cannot lose weight through diet and exercise, or have serious health problems caused by obesity.
A growing international patient program at Memorial provides personalized assistance in coordinating care and follow-up services for medical tourists - people from across the country and around the world who visit destinations such as Niagara Falls for the purpose of obtaining medical care.
Chief of Neurosurgery Dr. Michael Stoffman, a native of London, Ontario, has treated patients from as far away as Quebec and British Columbia.
"We can arrange almost immediate consultation after your initial contact and, if needed, same day tests and screenings," said Memorial Marketing Director Julie Clark. "The benefit for Canadian patients is a significant reduction in wait time, expert care, a complete package of services and comprehensive reports sent directly to the patient's personal care provider."
Memorial also warmly welcomes patients' family members and provides personalized visits from its concierge staff along with discounts for overnight stays, restaurants and shopping.
For more information about Niagara Falls Memorial, visit www.NFMMC.org or phone 716-278-4570.
Patrick J. Bradley is director of public relations and communications at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, 621 10th St., Niagara Falls.