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Hospital seeking funding from feds

October 09, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

McCONNELLSBURG, PA.

If the federal government cooperates and funds a grant, nearly a decade of planning and raising local money will come to fruition and ground can be broken for a new $37 million Fulton County Medical Center.

The one they're using now was built more than a half-century ago and has grown woefully small as Fulton County has grown, both in population and medical needs.

On Friday, hospital officials sent off their application for a $24 million Housing and Urban Development grant that will bring the total needed to build the new medical center to nearly $37 million.

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The rest is being raised locally from donations, bequests and pledges, said Diane J. Palmer, chief executive officer.

Local donations thus far include $1 million pledged by JLG Industries Inc. in McConnellsburg and $1.5 million in bequests, one from Cora Grove and one from Polly and Bob Shimer.

Various state and federal grants also have been received.

The dream of a new hospital came about in 1996 when Andrew Washabaugh and his wife donated 22 acres on Peach Orchard Road.

The site is in easy view from the existing hospital. So is the sign on the still-vacant lot that reads "Future Home of Fulton Medical Center," which encouraged the fundraising effort over the years.

HUD officials visited McConnellsburg in April and said they were pleased with the plans, Palmer said.

"We feel we have a good chance (of getting the $24 million grant approved)," Palmer said. "HUD thinks it's a good project."

It will take HUD four to six weeks to go through the approval process.

"We hope to know by early December," Palmer said.

If all goes well, ground will be broken in the spring and the new building will be ready for patients in the fall of 2007, Palmer said.

Fulton County Medical Center is a hospital-based nursing home, Palmer said.

The existing building has 57 nursing-home beds, a number that will increase by 10 in the new hospital. There also will be 25 acute-care beds, the same number as in the current medical center, she said.

Jason Hawkins, chief financial officer for the hospital, said the new building will add 40 percent more space than that available now in the existing hospital.

The existing hospital complex sits on one acre, leaving no room to expand. There will be plenty of room to grow on the new 22-acre site, Hawkins said. It also will mean the hospital can have its own helicopter landing pad.

The new building will give the hospital a chapel, more space for outpatient surgery, a more efficient and bigger emergency room, a laboratory, and radiology and therapy departments.

The hospital will be on one floor with outpatient services near the main entrance. It will provide patients with more privacy, Hawkins said.

The new medical center also means employment will go up by about 10 percent from the 350 current employees.

The old building will be sold.

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