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SY DEPARTING HOSPITAL FOR ADVOCACY ROLE

Thomas A. Sy, president and chief executive officer of Memorial Medical Center, on Tuesday announced plans to accept the position of chief executive officer of the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Western New York, saying he wants to be a full-time advocate for disabled people.

Sy stressed that his departure has nothing to do with the medical center's worsening financial situation.

"I think this is the most important point I wanted to get across, because people aren't aware of my family situation," he said.

Sy and his wife, Diane, are the parents of three daughters, one of whom suffers from multiple disabilities. Sy said the new position would allow him to be a full-time advocate for developmentally disabled people as well as to spend more time with his family.

"This was a very difficult decision," Sy said. "When the opportunity presented itself, I felt an obligation to my family to consider it. At the same time, I am very proud of our efforts on behalf of the medical center -- an increase in (out)patient utilization over the last two months and the overwhelming response to the community coalition."

Ronald R. Campbell, chairman of the hospital's board of trustees, said Sy would continue in his current position at Memorial through Oct. 20.

"We are very supportive of Tom's decision to take this new position with UCP. We understand his unique family circumstances and his desire to combine his management skills with his advocacy efforts," Campbell said.

The board of trustees has established a search committee, with trustee Don J. King as chairman, to find an interim chief executive officer and initiate a national search for a permanent president.

"We are extremely pleased with the progress Memorial has made under Tom's leadership," Campbell said. "Memorial is ideally positioned to execute the strategic plan outlined by Tom at last week's news conference. We are confident that through coalition efforts and our marketing initiative, we can increase (patient) volumes, take advantage of funding opportunities and ultimately ensure the medical center's long-term financial stability."

Last week, medical center officials and a group of business and community leaders announced the formation of a community coalition aimed at reversing a decrease in usage of the hospital that threatens its existence.

The decrease has been mainly in the areas of ambulatory surgeries and inpatient stays for medical and surgical treatments, Sy said. The decline is being blamed on what officials call misperceptions relating to the hospital's inner-city location and a lack of awareness of the services available.

Hospital officials plan aggressive marketing strategies and a series of community forums and on-site wellness programs in the hope that once they can get people in the door, those people will return.

Sy was named interim president in February 1999 after an attempted consolidation with Mount St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston was called off.

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