Western New York’s best-known restaurateur-philanthropist joined Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center officials on Wednesday to roll out the proverbial red carpet for medical center patients and visitors.
The occasion: The dedication of Memorial’s new Russell J. Salvatore Welcome Center in the hospital’s upper lobby.
The project was made possible by a donation from Salvatore, the owner of Salvatore’s Italian Gardens and Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More.
“I am happy to be part of the excitement surrounding Niagara Falls Memorial,” Salvatore said. “This marks my 11th hospital project and I am finding great satisfaction and happiness knowing I’m able to assist people when they need it most.”
Additional funding for the Russell J. Salvatore Welcome Center included gifts from the Memorial Medical Center Auxiliary and Memorial’s medical executive committee.
“The new collaborations will make this hospital stronger than ever,” Salvatore said.
The 1,500-square-foot project was carried out by TM Montante Development, which made it a mission to convert the upper lobby into a welcome center that looks brighter, feels less institutional, enhances patient privacy and, with the installation of a visitor check-in system, helps to improve hospital security.
The lobby features an expanded and more centrally located welcome desk, more soothing colors, two new TV messaging stations and a quieter patient waiting area away from the flow of pedestrian traffic.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” said Memorial President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo. “That’s especially important in a hospital, where those who entrust their care to us may be intimidated or disoriented by a health care setting that is foreign to them. It’s important that we make all who enter here feel welcome and safe. The Russell J. Salvatore Welcome Center and the caring people who staff it will do just that.”
Salvatore, who has gifted millions of dollars to area hospitals to help them improve the patient experience and patient care, has worked in food service for 70 years, building what began as a small hot dog stand into an empire renowned for its fine dining.
In addition to supporting area hospitals, he has also championed higher education, supporting the recently expanded and renovated Russell J. Salvatore Dining Commons at Niagara University and the Russell J. Salvatore School of Hospitality & Business at Trocaire College.