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Residents, employees eager for opening of new hospital

March 23, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

McCONNELLSBURG, PA. - With an 18-year tenure at Fulton County Medical Center, many people in McConnellsburg know where Lisa Saucier is employed and have been asking about the coming move to a facility double the size of her existing workplace.

"We've heard several people say they want to be the first patient," Saucier said.

Saucier, a licensed practical nurse in the emergency room, joins her colleagues in saying she is most excited for "more room."

The new $37 million hospital on Peach Orchard Road has stayed on budget and on schedule, with officials anticipating a December opening.

The main thing they highlight is the sheer size of the new medical center, which is 100,000 square feet compared with 49,000 square feet at the current site.

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Walking around the new building's shell Thursday, Development Director Cheryl Brown paused outside the long-term care wings and said, "This is where I start to get lost."

Long-term care residents will go from an institutional-type setting to one that feels more like home, Marketing Director Misty Hershey said.

"Long-term care is like a nursing home, so our residents are here for the rest of their lives," Brown said.

Long-term care patients will be paired in a room but have a half wall dividing the space. Each room has a window.

"I just can't wait to see the residents out here, enjoying the facility. Right now, they're looking at a parking lot," Hershey said.

Officials are treating construction, which started in April 2006, as the first in a series of phases. They plan to add an additional long-term care wing, administrative offices and a wellness center on the 22-acre site, Brown said.

About $540,000 remains to be raised for the new medical center, according to Brown.

"We have raised three-quarters of a million dollars since July 1," Brown said.

The number of long-term care beds will increase from 57 to 67 with the move. The medical center will continue to maintain 21 acute-care beds.

"We're thinking the entire move process will take six days," Brown said.

Consideration is being given to the future of the existing First Street medical center, which was built in 1950. Operations will be split between the facilities initially.

Brown and Hershey feel that patients and staff will benefit most from having services grouped in the single-story facility, where drywall is being installed.

"When you walk in the main entrance as an outpatient, everything is at your fingertips," Brown said.

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