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Summit Health opens new facility in Mercersburg

February 28, 2000

Summit HealthBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Two longtime Mercersburg family medical practices moved to spacious new quarters earlier this month in the $1.1 million Mercersburg Health Center on Keefer Drive.

An open house showcasing the new center to special guests was held Monday. A general open house will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The 8,500-square-foot center houses the offices of Dr. W. David Kent and the four-physician Mercersburg offices of Tuscarora Family Practice. It also has a lab so area residents can have routine blood tests and other work done locally instead having to drive to hospitals in Waynesboro, Pa., or Chambersburg, Pa.

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The new medical practice is the seventh operated by Summit Health, the not-for-profit alliance of Waynesboro and Chambersburg hospitals. Summit Health's Cumberland Valley Medical Services runs the practices with 22 physicians, said John J. McElwee Jr., Summit vice president.

Kent, 49, opened his family medical practice in Mercersburg 20 years ago to replace one of the town's two physicians who had stopped practicing. A husband-and-wife physician team of Drs. Robert B. and Elizabeth George came to Mercersburg a few months later and set up their own family practice. Both had offices in downtown Mercersburg.

Today Robert George, three other physicians and a certified registered nurse practitioner make up Tuscarora Family Practice. The group also has offices in Greencastle, Pa.

McElwee said practices such as Mercersburg's guarantee rural areas will always have doctors. The centers also make it easier to recruit new doctors because Summit Health pays for all medical equipment and supplies plus the personnel and services needed for a centralized billing and support system, McElwee said. The company also lures doctors by helping practices comply with government, insurance and managed-care regulations, he said.

"When I retire, Summit will put someone else here to replace me, so the town won't have to go without a doctor again," Kent said. "It's a relief not to have to do the business end. All I have to do is worry about my patients. Summit Health takes care of the billing, the insurance, employees, accounts receivable and malpractice insurance."

With the complex and ever-changing nature of government and insurance regulations, that draw is powerful, Kent said. "Twenty years ago the business end of a medical practice was easy. It's horrendous today with third-party payers, the government, HMOs and managed care."

George said when he came to Mercersburg in 1980 all he needed to run his office was a typewriter and a calculator.

Kent said the move gives him room to add a second physician to his practice. He and Cumberland Valley Medical Services will work together recruiting one, he said.

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