EMHS hospital keeps growing

‘Heat at the Seat’ Chili Cook-off organizer Nonie Way signs her name, along with other donors, to a piece of sheetrock which will be placed in the entryway of the Endless Mountains Health Systems facility currently under construction in Bridgewater Twp. The annual cook-off serves as a fundraiser for the hospital building project. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

BY STACI WILSON

One year ago, a ceremonial groundbreaking was held marking the commencement of site work for a new healthcare facility in Susquehanna County.

Exactly one year after shovels were placed in dirt specially hauled in for that ritual, Endless Mountains Health Systems personnel gathered again at the site with donors and community leaders on Friday – this time standing inside framed in walls of the new healthcare facility.

The event was hosted by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, of Houston, Texas.

Cabot spokesman George Stark said, “This is a lot of progress in a really short time.”

Ray Wilmarth, President of the EMHS Board of Directors, said, “As I stand here today, I’m thrilled to see this much accomplished.”

He called for the community to band together and take a personal interest in the building project. “I want every person to feel they are a contributor to this,” Wilmarth said. “This is something you and I can do for the next generations.”

EMHS CEO Rex Catlin talked about the collaborative effort of the project from the local, state and federal governments; private industry and individuals; and area civic clubs.

“Everyone recognized the need and made this possible,” Catlin said.

He said even EMHS users are commenting in patient surveys. Catlin quoted one comment: “The staff and the doctors are the best I’ve ever seen – just wait until they have a new facility to work out of.”

Dr. Joseph Speicher, an EMHS physician, described the excitement of the healthcare facility staff. “They are excited for what it means to our community from a whole health care point of view,” he said, including physician recruitment.

At the 2011 groundbreaking, EMHS had funding secured for Phase 1 of the project – the hospital facility. Additional funding was needed for the construction of the physician’s clinic.

Shortly after the groundbreaking, Cabot announced its $1 million donation to the project, jumpstarting a community match challenge in an effort to raise $3 million for the project. Cabot pledged to match up to $1 million in donations between March and July 2011.

The campaign, along with a $1 million grant from the Weinberg Foundation, led to a total of $4.4 million raised towards the construction of the physician’s clinic in a four month timeframe.

Stark said, “This was all done with the community coming together to make this health care facility. There is no better way to impact a community than with quality healthcare.”

He said it was exciting for Cabot to be a “helper” in the project – “just to have a little piece in it.”

Construction of the hospital and physicians’ clinic portion of the project is expected to be completed in September.

Wilmarth said funds are still needed for equipment; and also to begin the project’s third phase, which includes the administrative offices, as well as some outpatient services.

The Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains acts as the repository for donations made to the EMHS building project. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to The Community Foundation, 270 Lake Ave., Montrose, PA 18801; or visit www.community-foundation.org for information.