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The Coalition to Preserve Health Care Access again is seeking to rally support and increase use of Memorial Medical Center.

Don J. King, a member of the hospital board and co-chairman of the coalition, said his main message to the community is "Use it or you may lose it."

King was to deliver his remarks at a news conference today at the hospital.

Memorial has been struggling for years and attempted a consolidation with Mount St. Mary's Hospital and Health Center in Lewiston as a way of stemming losses. But the affiliation fell apart about 18 months ago, before it was totally implemented, after a community outcry over losing acute and obstetrical care from the city center. Now, King said, hospital use is down.

King said the medical center has been on the defensive for so long, the leadership wants to go on the offensive to try to save it. It has enlisted a group of organizations to help get the message out to the community about what the hospital has to offer.

"Major cutbacks in Medicare and Medicaid, lower-than-average managed care reimbursements and other financial pressures are seriously jeopardizing the future of the hospital. Business and community leaders representing thousands of area workers and residents have joined together to speak out about the vital health care provided at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and the need to support the hospital and its programs," King said. "We just want people to embrace their hospital."

Also scheduled to speak were Thomas A. Sy, Memorial Medical's chief executive officer, and Carolyn A. Van Schaik, coalition co-chairwoman, executive director of the Center City Neighborhood Development Corp. and a member of the hospital board.

In addition to a number of health care and health-related agencies, coalition members include Washington Mills/Electro Minerals Corp., the Main Street and LaSalle business and professional associations, Felton Machine Co., National Vacuum Corp., Niagara Falls Redevelopment, Coldwell Banker, Talarico, DiPoffi and Boyd Real Estate, Community Missions, Fellowship House and the Niagara County Department of Social Services.

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