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Buffalo restaurateur Russell Salvatore has donated $195,000 to Erie County Medical Center for new flat-screen televisions in about 350 patient rooms.

The gift prompted the medical center to end its practice of charging patients a fee for television use.

Salvatore was treated at ECMC for a broken ankle, and made the gift in appreciation of the care he received.

“This is the season of giving,” he said. “When you are recuperating in a hospital bed, television becomes very important. I want to make sure all of ECMC’s patients have the same excellent experience that I did.”

Salvatore, the former owner of Salvatore’s Italian Gardens restaurant and Garden Place Hotel, now owns Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More.

The gift to the medical center – 26-inch LG TVs – was made through its Lifeline Foundation.

Earlier this year, the hospital’s patient experience committee reported that its primary request to improve patients’ experience was for new televisions provided at no cost in all patient rooms.

The hospital still uses old-style tube TVs and had been considering a process for replacing the units with more-modern sets, said Thomas J. Quatroche, ECMC’s senior vice president for marketing and planning.

“We had been looking to do this, and [Salvatore] was looking for a way to help the hospital after his stay here. It turned out to be a good fit,” he said.

The replacement process already has started and is expected to continue over the next few weeks.

email: hdavis@buffnews.com