The hospital that became known as Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) was founded in 1905 as Municipal Hospital on East Ferry Street in Buffalo, New York. In 1918, the hospital moved to its present location on Grider Street, and it was renamed Buffalo City Hospital. The hospital was renamed again in 1939, when it became known as Edward J. Meyer Memorial Hospital, after Dr. Edward Meyer, who was a former hospital administrator. In 1978, a new thirteen-story hospital building was built, replacing the old hospital building, which was demolished. The hospital was renamed Erie County Medical Center (ECMC). It is the largest hospital in Western New York, with 550 inpatient beds. ECMC is designated by the New York State Department of Health as Western New York’s Regional Trauma Center and Regional Burn Treatment Center. Erie County Medical Center is also a teaching hospital affiliated with the University at Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Up until the late 1970’s, dozens of asbestos-containing materials were utilized during the construction of ECMC. Workers who handled these asbestos-containing materials are at risk for developing mesothelioma, lung cancer or other asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos-containing pipe covering, insulating cement and block insulation covered pipes, boilers and associated equipment throughout the heating system at ECMC. Handling, cutting and applying asbestos-containing insulation caused asbestos dust to become airborne, which workers inhaled.
Structural steel at ECMC was protected against potential fire damage through the use of asbestos-containing fireproof insulation. Fireproofing was manufactured as a dry mixture of asbestos, cement and linen. Raw fireproofing material was dumped into a machine, mixed with water and sprayed onto the structural steel with a hose. This process created tremendous amounts of asbestos-containing dust, which remained suspended in the air for days. Laborers who worked in the vicinity of where the fireproofing took place, may have inhaled asbestos dust and fibers.
Asbestos was also incorporated into the acoustical plaster that was applied to ceilings and walls at ECMC. Because a hospital setting requires the reduction of noise in patient rooms, hallways and offices, acoustical plaster was utilized throughout the hospital. Asbestos was used as a filler ingredient in acoustical plaster because of its inherent strength. The plaster was manufactured as a dry powder and mixed with water in order to prepare it for application. When workers poured and mixed acoustical plaster, asbestos fibers were emitted into the air and inhaled by workers.
Many union and non-union laborers who worked on construction projects for Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) were employed by various contractors throughout Western New York. If you or a loved one were once employed in connection with the construction or renovations at Erie County Medical Center and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us regarding your legal rights.