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The University at Buffalo hopes to move its family medicine practice based at DeGraff Memorial Hospital to another location in North Tonawanda.

DeGraff officials told the university last week they're dropping the contract for the clinic, citing extra costs associated with an academic practice. They say they'll replace the doctors with others.

Dr. Thomas C. Rosenthal, chairman of UB's Department of Family Medicine, said Monday that university officials were surprised and disappointed by DeGraff's decision and hope to re-establish the practice elsewhere in North Tonawanda. They talked to real estate agents last week and again on Monday.

"We're hoping to make a decision on our side within two weeks," Rosenthal said. He estimated it would take 2 1/2 months to get an office up and running.

The UB practice at DeGraff, with three physicians and one nurse practitioner, serves approximately 4,800 patients and is growing at a rate of about 50 new patients per month, Rosenthal said.

"So there's a real need in the community for primary care," he said.

About half of those patients are on Medicaid, Medicare or underinsured, he said.

UB has 11 family medicine clinics in Western New York, but the DeGraff site is the only one in Niagara County, Rosenthal said. The university also has seven clinics in Erie County and three in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

DeGraff Family Medicine, as the clinic is known, has been located at the hospital since 1995. Hospital officials say the physicians affiliated with UB will continue to see patients at DeGraff until late January and that they hope to replace that practice with other physicians without any interruption in patient care.


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