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North Country News

Groundbreaking For New Health Care Facility In Champlain NY

The Hudson Headwaters Health Network is made up of 17 community health centers in eastern New York. The group recently broke ground on a new facility in Champlain to replace an overcrowded and antiquated clinic.
The North Country Family Health Center in Champlain is a 4,500-square foot facility that provides health care to more than 17,000 residents in a 500-square mile rural area of northern New York. Lead Physician Maurice Racine says there is a desperate need for a new facility.   “The facility I have right now is 60 years old.  Exam rooms where we have to switch people around if there’s more than three people in the room it’s so small. It’s really antiquated.  It was state of the art 60 years ago but not now. My father was a carpenter and many of my family members are very handy and I’ve had a lot of help keeping that facility together from patients who are, who know how to lay ceramic tile, or electricians, or you know if I need something repaired and I can’t do it this facility is kept together by a lot of people who give almost free help ‘til we could get a new facility.”

Racine contacted Hudson Headwaters, and after four years, the funding is in place and grants have been approved to build a new 25,916-square foot state of the art facility.  Hudson Headwaters Health Network and officials from the region recently broke ground to construct the new building.  

Hudson Headwaters CEO and Founder John Rugge says the services that will be provided will allow patients to be treated locally and avoid seeking help at facilities 20 miles or more away.   “We’re doing primary care from newborns on up.  We will also have urgent care. We will have x-rays for those things that come up be it a twisted ankle or a bad cough. So that people don’t need to leave this community.  For some of the technical services, we will do all the blood drawing and are now speaking with our friends both at CVPH and at University of Vermont about specialty care too.  We are licensed and recognized as a federally qualified health center.”

The new facility will have 24 primary care exam rooms, three counseling rooms, a procedure room and space for specialty care.  Dr. Rugge says health centers like the one being built in Champlain offer a range of care options.   “Everywhere, all across the nation, it’s possible to provide more and more care in community settings, in office based settings, in part due to better science and better technology. And that means people can come to a facility like this and get more and more of their care instead of it only being the minor little things.”

Town Supervisor Larry Barcomb says a number of communities will benefit when the new facility opens.   “The whole Northern Tier: Chazy, Champlain, Mooers, Ellenburg, West Chazy, it’s closer than going to Plattsburgh and a lot of services we cannot get here now that will be able to get with a new facility.  So I think it’s going to be very, very convenient.  I’m absolutely sure this is going to be a success. Actually the new water system that’s going in, it’s kind of coming together.  We’re getting a water system in the same year that they’re building here.”

Plattsburgh North Country Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas is also co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.  He noted that the new center will boost both the health of the area’s residents and economy.   “Health care is economic development.  Health care development like this specifically very much is economic development. Not just because it’s going to be a significant employer and a part of the economy here in the Northern Tier but because without a healthy community you don’t have a healthy economy. Ask employers where they’re going to find reliable, productive workforce in a community that isn’t sustained by good health care services. That’s why the North Country Regional Economic Development Council branded this project early on as a high priority economic development project for this region.”

The $9 million facility is expected to open in May 2017.