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By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Called the most comprehensive provider of medical services on Grand Island, the new Grand Island Primary Care Center celebrated a ribbon-cutting Thursday at its offices at 2608 Grand Island Blvd.
Members of the Grand Island business community and leaders in government were on hand for an unveiling, and to welcome back the doctors and staff who had moved temporarily to North Tonawanda for several months as the new offices were prepared. The new offices are adjacent to Rocky's Island Pizza.
When Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center Vice President for Service Line Operations Sanjay Chadha said when he was proofreading the sign that would identify the new Grand Island Primary Care Center, he caught a spelling error. Longtime Island physician Dr. Willard D. Ruth's last name was spelled "Root."
"As I was correcting his last name on the sign, it occurred to me that even this mistake has a deep meaning. Dr. Ruth is the root of health and wellness of all people on Grand Island," Chadha said. "The tree stands strong not by the fruits or branches, but by the depth of the roots. A tree without roots is just a piece of wood. Won't stand. And we wouldn't be standing here without the commitment and the dedication of Dr. Ruth."
"Things get done in the world by people who care, who try, and who give their best in whatever they do," he said. "And that's the Dr. Ruth I know."
Chadha said the vision of Memorial is to expand the scope of services on the Island, such as adding bariatric services counsels and psychiatry services to the practice.
Grand Island Town Supervisor Mary Cooke said when letters advised patients last fall that the practice would move to North Tonawanda temporarily, she received fearful calls from residents.
"We're very close to Niagara Falls, and we're very close to Tonawanda, but we REALLY like things to be on the Island," Cooke said. "We are most pleased to have this office, and we are most pleased that on a daily basis there will be medical personnel here."
She called Dr. Ruth "a legend on Grand Island" and said welcoming him back on the Island with an expansion is "just a wonderful thing."
New York State Assemblyman John Ceretto presented a certificate of merit from himself and the Assembly at the ribbon-cutting.
Memorial's Pat Bradley said he was impressed with "how loyal the patients of this office have remained," calling them patient and supportive.
Ruth praised his team for the practice's success. He came to the Island practice in 1971 and Memorial acquired the practice in 2010.
"I think we have one of the best staffs ever," Ruth said. "Our staff is loyal. A lot of them have been with us a long time."