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Pa. medical center to open in November

August 15, 2007|By DON AINES

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - When it opens this fall, the new Fulton County Medical Center will have an appealing mountain vista for its patients and nursing home residents thanks to Andrew Washabaugh.

"I might have to spend some time here, so I thought we ought to do it right," said Washabaugh, who donated the 22 acres for the center, which is within sight of the old center it will replace.

The 97,000-square-foot hospital and nursing home will be twice as large as the center that was built in 1950, Jason Hawkins, president of the medical center, said Tuesday while giving U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., a hard-hat tour of the $37.5 million building.

The ribbon-cutting for the center will be Nov. 2, with the building to be occupied two weeks later, said Cheryl Brown, the center's director of Community Relations and Development. Although financing includes about $5 million in state and federal funds and a $26 million bond issue through Fulton County, Brown said the community raised another $7 million in individual and corporate donations.

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Shuster said he and his father, former U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, helped secure about $750,000 in federal money for the center. Another $250,000 could be available if a $250,000 earmark in the House appropriations bill for Health and Human Services is approved, he said.

"We're adding a lot of new technology this community deserves," Hawkins said of the new center, which has 21 acute-care beds and 67 long-term care beds. The emergency room will be double the size of the existing one, which had 10,000 patient visits last year, Chief Financial Officer Shana Wolfe said.

The new center will mean more to the community than access to a modern health-care facility, Shuster said. It also will be a job and economic development engine, helping create more health-care jobs and attract businesses that take into account medical facilities when researching communities, he said.

With 330 employees, the center is the second largest employer in the county behind JLG Industries, Hawkins said. Between six and 30 new positions will be added after it opens, he said.

"The employees are excited," said Tim McGarver, a member of the center's board of directors. "They can't wait to move out here."

Health-care technology has changed enormously in the 57 years since the old center was built and, although it has served the small county well, "It's very tired," said Helen Overly, who has chaired the local fundraising efforts for about five years.

Overly recalled reading an article from the center's early days about women in the county canning fruits and vegetables that were served to the patients as a way to save money.

"Can you imagine doing something like that today?" she said.

While Shuster was in Fulton County, he also presented a ceremonial check for $125,163 to the Hustontown (Pa.) Volunteer Fire Co. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters grant was used to purchase air packs and turnout gear, according to his office.

Shuster will be in Chambersburg, Pa., today at 9:30 a.m. to meet with constituents at his office, and at 2 p.m. will present Assistance to Firefighters grants of $186,960 to the Franklin Fire Co. and $21,731 to the Friendship Engine & Hose Co., according to his office.

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