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Seneca leaders honored by ECMC after establishing $1 million endowment

The Seneca Nation’s long-standing history of working with the Erie County Medical Center to address diabetes-related issues was celebrated Tuesday by Nation leaders including Barry E. Snyder.

Snyder, a former president of the Seneca Nation, and his wife, Deanna, have helped establish a $1 million endowment to support the hospital’s construction of a new trauma center and emergency room.

To honor the endowment, hospital administrators on Tuesday unveiled a new sign officially dedicating the Barry & Deanna Snyder Dialysis and Medical Office Building, an existing ECMC facility on Grider Street.

ECMC officials and Nation leaders pledged to continue working together and support Senecas diagnosed with diabetes during a news conference on Tuesday.

Diabetes affects more than a quarter of the Nation’s members, according to Seneca Nation Health System data cited in a 2017 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report.

“I wanted to know that diabetes is not unbeatable,” Snyder said of why he and Deanna in 2005 established the Seneca Diabetes Foundation, a nonprofit that’s supporting the ECMC endowment.

The endowment was announced earlier this year, and Snyder said he was grateful for the hospital’s dedication Tuesday. The facility is now the first health care building in Buffalo named after a leader of the Seneca Nation.

“ECMC will work collaboratively with the Seneca Nation Health System to address particular health needs and concerns of the Seneca Nation,” said Thomas J. Quatroche, the hospital’s president and CEO.

That partnership includes focuses on diabetes education and care, chemical dependency treatment and behavioral services, among other things, Quatroche said.

Barry E. Snyder, a former president of the Seneca Gaming Corp., poses for a photo during the unveiling of the new Erie County Medical Center sign. (Sam Ogozalek/Buffalo News)

Peter K. Cutler, the hospital’s vice president of communications and external affairs, said the $1 million endowment will be funded in phases, and its initial payment has been made by the foundation.

Snyder is recognized as a “giant” among members of the Nation, said Martin E. Seneca, a spokesman for Seneca Nation President Todd Gates.

Martin said that Snyder, as a president of the Nation for five terms, protected the Seneca’s sovereignty. He fought to make sure the United States federal government respected the Canandaigua Treaty of Peace, Martin said.

That treaty, signed in 1794, established official U.S. acknowledgment of Six Nations land boundaries.

Snyder is also a long-serving chairman of the Seneca Gaming Corp.’s board of directors, and helped strengthen the Nation’s financial standing through various investments, Martin said.

Cutler said the new trauma center is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020. Pegula Sports and Entertainment and the Buffalo Bills Foundation have also donated $1 million toward the new facility.

Hospital administrators broke ground on the $55 million project at the beginning of June.

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