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Medical center brought doctors to Greencastle

March 22, 1999

Grove and CrunkletonBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




GREENCASTLE, Pa. - People who got sick in Greencastle had a hard time finding a doctor in town in the mid-1960s, a time when there was only one full-time and one part-time physician.

The shortage was so severe, it prompted members of the local Lions Club to form a committee to try to find doctors willing to move to the town.

The committee struggled along until John L. Grove stepped in.

"(Grove) asked me if we'd have more chances to secure doctors if we had a medical center. He donated $200,000," said Robert Crunkleton, 77, an original member of the Lions committee.

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The John L. Grove Medical Center was built at 50 Eastern Ave., ending the crisis and changing forever Greencastle's health care industry.

Twenty years earlier, Grove, his brother and a partner had started what was to become Grove Worldwide, a major player in the crane and aerial manlift industry.

By the 1960s, Grove had 250 employees and annual sales of about $18 million. When the company was sold last year to a Texas investment firm, the third sale in its history, it was reporting sales exceeding $860 million.

Grove sold the company in 1967. He went on to establish JLG Industries in McConnellsburg, Pa., in 1970 - the same year he was helping to start up the medical center.

He has since sold his JLG interests and is now retired, living in a house not far from the medical center.

It cost about $330,000 to build and equip the center, with funding coming from Grove, community donations and loans, Crunkleton said.

Crunkleton, who still goes to his office in the center every day, remembers that Grove's generosity did not end with his original gift.

"There were times when the foundation would meet and discuss some financial problem and John would lean back in his chair, look up at the ceiling and say, 'Would $200,000 help?'" Crunkleton said.

One such time was in the spring of 1981, when a fire, still believed to have been the work of an arsonist, destroyed the center.

Insurance covered the loss, but, by that time, the building had grown too small to meet its mission. A new, larger center was built to replace it, opening in 1982.

Today, after additions, the center covers nearly 30,000 square feet. A new 2,000-square-foot addition is in the works to give more space to the Tuscarora Family Practice, one of two multiphysician clinics in the center.

Also in the building are a dentist, podiatrist, eye care center, physical therapy and other services, a diagnostic center with a laboratory and a small law firm.

The center has more than 15 acres and a mobile home, once used to house a fledgling medical practice of two doctors during a space crunch. It now serves as the home of the custodian and his family.

The center is self-supporting, Crunkleton said.

As to its future, Grove said it's still a big question. Need will dictate what happens. Changing technology in the medical profession and a possible need for some kind of assisted living facility could help shape its future.

"The center will grow as the community grows," Grove said. "When the community needs more services, we'll be here to provide them. We just won't compete with the hospitals in the area. We're here to complement them."

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