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Funding OK'd for medical center study

October 02, 1998|By DON AINES

MCCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster announced Thursday that the U.S. Economic Development Administration has approved $20,000 for a feasibility study for a new Fulton County Medical Center.

In May, Shuster toured the proposed site for the center, 17 acres off U.S. 30 in Todd Township. The land for the project was pledged by Andy Washabaugh, owner of Fulton County Motor Sales.

At the time, Shuster said he would request $1 million for the center in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Cooperative Development Grants Program for Fiscal Year 1999.

Shuster's office said Thursday there is a request for the center in the agriculture conference report. The House is expected to vote on the report this week and the Senate will vote on it next week.

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Although the fiscal year started Thursday, the federal government is operating on a continuing resolution until Oct. 9. Shuster's office said Congress will try and pass the remainder of the appropriations by then.

Robert Murray, CEO of the medical center, said the $20,000 grant would go toward a $70,000 feasibility study for the project, which will cost approximately $18 million. He expected the study to be completed in the next six to eight months.

The center is also preparing an application for a $7 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development and Housing, Murray said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare has approved an increase in the number of nursing home beds from 57 to 100, according to Murray. The existing center on South First Street houses Fulton County's only nursing home.

The number of hospital beds at a new center would remain at 42, he said.

Murray said a fund-raising committee has been formed to help pay for the rest of the project.

"We hope to get a fund-raising campaign off the ground sometime after the beginning of the year," he said.

The existing center was built in 1950 and the nursing home was added in the 1970s. The most recent addition was made in 1992.

Murray said in May that renovating the existing facility would be impractical, in part because there is not enough room between floors to put in a new heating and air conditioning system.

According to Shuster's office, the center employs about 300 people and a new center would generate about 30 more jobs.

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