Niagara County's new cancer treatment center will bear the name of its major benefactor, B. Thomas Golisano, whose foundation committed $1.5 million to the build the facility, officials announced Wednesday.
The Golisano Foundation's contribution will finance the vast majority of the $2 million required to establish the 6,000-square-foot oncology center on the fourth floor of the hospital's Schoellkopf Building.
The Golisano Medical Oncology Center is currently under construction and is expected to open next spring.
Foundation Director Anne Costello said the facility will establish "a better system of cancer care" for the Niagara region, with special consideration for the disadvantaged.
“The new Medical Oncology Center is poised to become a center of excellence for providing cancer care for all residents including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, a population that often falls through the cracks of complex health care systems, and specialty care including early detection, cancer screening and treatment," Costello said.
The area is in need, according to medical center CEO Joseph Ruffolo. For all cancers, Niagara County has the sixth highest cancer incidence rate among the 62 state counties, about 29.5 percent more cases per 100,000 residents than the state average. The cancer mortality rate here is 35.5 percent higher than the state average, according to New York's Department of Health.
Niagara's cancer death rate is higher than 76 percent of the counties and is nearly 36 percent higher than the New York state average rate. For people with intellectual disabilities who are now living longer, cancer is one of the three main causes of death.
"It's bad," Ruffolo told the Niagara Gazette earlier this year. "And it's getting worse than bad."
Dr. Candace Johnson, the President & CEO and M&T Bank Presidential Chair in Leadership at Roswell Park said, "This collaboration between a top cancer center, a quality-driven regional medical center and a visionary philanthropist will ensure that people throughout this community will have convenient, appropriate, evidence-based care available close to home in a beautiful and welcoming setting."
The treatment center will make Roswell’s expertise – including in hematology, chemotherapy infusion and the newest cancer treatments, including immuno-therapies – accessible to those who live and work in Niagara County.
The collaboration is the first in a series of joint efforts planned between Roswell and Memorial after an agreement signed in February, according to officials.
The two providers have already pursued integrated screening and treatment for lung and thoracic cancers. In May, Memorial joined the Roswell Park Care Network, a collaborative that allows patients access to care in their communities.
Memorial medical center's relationship with Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation dates back to 2016 opening of the Golisano Center for Community Health on Memorial’s 10th street campus.
Golisano donated $3.5 million to build the Golisano Center for Community Health. His total gifts to medical center to more than $5 million. The Golisano Foundation has also supported dentistry training programs at memorial to increase access to dental care for people with intellectual disabilities.