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The name of a new sculpture in the Gates Vascular Institute – “In Motion” – describes the man it honors.

Friends, family and former colleagues raised more than $100,000 from some 150 donors to build the memorial sculpture to John E. Friedlander, who spearheaded the creation of Kaleida Health.

Friedlander, who died in 2005 at age 58, led the complex 1998 merger of Buffalo General, DeGraff Memorial, Millard Fillmore, Millard Fillmore Suburban and Women & Children’s hospitals.

“I don’t believe he ever got the credit he deserved for what he accomplished,” said Mike Shaw, a former Kaleida spokesman. “He brought together competitors in the largest health care merger in the history of Western New York.”

Friedlander, known for his hard-charging personality, moved to Western New York in 1984 to become chief financial officer at Buffalo General.

He played a key role in the financial turnaround of Buffalo General in the 1980s.

In 1994, he became president and chief executive officer of the Buffalo General Health System.

After the merger, Friedlander encountered major opposition over a proposal to relocate Women & Children’s Hospital into a new building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and also a second proposal to relocate it in Buffalo General Hospital.

Friedlander resigned in 2001 to form his own health care consulting company. The following year Kaleida Health decided to keep Women & Children’s Hospital a free-standing facility in the Elmwood Village.

After lengthy study, however, physicians at the pediatric hospital in 2010 concluded building a pediatric hospital on the Medical Campus made the most sense. Groundbreaking for the new building – to be called the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital – is expected in the spring.

“John’s vision will become a reality within the next couple of years,” Shaw said.

The sculpture by artist Shayne Dark will be dedicated May 21.

The piece stretches 8 feet high and 6 feet wide. The arrangement of red rods draws its inspiration from the vascular system, depicting life-giving blood vessels as a metaphor for the consolidation of the hospitals into an organization that provides life-giving care.

It hangs from the ceiling inside the Ellicott Street entrance. Dark called the art work a “dramatic and dynamic assemblage that reflects both its contemporary setting and the spirit of John Friedlander.”

The sculpture “celebrates all that John accomplished as an outstanding health care leader, his key role in the creation of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and his firm resolve to make a difference in the lives of the residents of Western New York,” Carrie B. Frank, a former administrator at Buffalo General and Kaleida Health, said in a statement. She headed the memorial sculpture project.

email: hdavis@buffnews.com