Restaurateur Russell J. Salvatore Tuesday announced a commitment to donate $1 million to Erie County Medical Center's capital campaign for a new trauma center emergency room.
It is the largest donation made by Salvatore, who has contributed to a number of organizations in Western New York. At the medical center, with this contribution, he will have raised $2.5 million for the trauma center campaign and other capital improvements, including the main entrance and lobby.
In 2014, he donated $500,000 to help with the Russell J. Salvatore Orthopaedic Unit that opened in 2015. He had previously donated $250,000 to upgrade televisions in patient rooms.
"You know, I have the money. I'm fortunate enough that I can do it, that I can give back," said the 84-year-old Salvatore.
"I'm getting everything in order in case the man upstairs rings the bell for me," Salvatore said. "It also makes me feel good, and people appreciate it."
He said the $1 million will be paid out over an as-yet undetermined number of years.
The proposed trauma center-emergency room is planned as a 54,000-square-foot facility, compared to the current 26,000 square feet. It will have 54 treatment stations instead of the current 34 and an estimated $58 million price tag, according to Peter Cuter, vice president of communications and external affairs.
Medical center officials anticipate breaking ground in late summer and completing the project by the fall of 2019. Nearly 69,300 patients visited the medical center emergency room in 2016.
“Russell Salvatore is an icon of our community, who has always demonstrated through amazing acts of kindness just how compassionate and caring he is for Buffalo and Western New York. We are very thankful that he has chosen to make such a significant donation to the hospital’s capital campaign,” said hospital board chair Sharon L. Hanson in a statement.