With a $5 million in grant funding now lined up, the existing Warrensburg Health Center is to be replaced with a new $6 million facility, twice as large, which will be built in front of the present building, originally constructed as a grocery store. After the new health center is built — groundbreaking is expected next spring — the old facility will be torn down for municipal parking.
Envisioned for decades, a brand-new health center is now in the works for Warrensburg.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced early Tuesday May 1 that $5 million in federal funds have been approved for Hudson Headwaters Health Network to replace its Warrensburg Health Center building with a modern two-story structure nearly twice the size.
The proposed facility will cost more than $6 million to construct.
For over 30 years, HHHN officials have been concerned about problems in adapting the former grocery store building to their needs, particularly with the ever-increasing facility demands due to evolving technology. Excess utility consumption has also been an issue in the aging building, originally built as a grocery store. The town of Warrensburg has traditionally paid the center’s utility bills.
In a prepared statement, Schumer said he lobbied for the new health center to improve services to patients — and make it easier to recruit and retain doctors and physicians’ assistants. He noted that the new facility would greatly benefit local residents, many of whom are impoverished, as well as help the Warrensburg Health Center become a site for teaching health care professionals.
"This is just what the doctor ordered for Adirondack area residents,” Schumer said. “Funding for Hudson Headwaters’ new facility in Warrensburg will improve patient care and bring new blood to the area through the opening of a teaching center. I am thrilled that U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has heeded my call.”
Hudson Headwaters founder and CEO Dr. John Rugge said he and other HHHN officials were happy with the approval of the grant, which many said was a long shot.
“We are delighted to secure funds in what was an extremely competitive grant process,” Rugge said, noting that the Warrensburg Health Center experiences many thousands of patient visits per year from people all over the region, seven days and six evenings every week of the year. “Of course, we were able to make a strong case for upgrading the medical capacity in Warrensburg.”
Rugge added that the new center would boost efficiency as well as enhance the patient experience and allow additional services to be offered.
“With the changes in how we deliver care, we are seeing that the current health center is increasingly hard pressed to keep up with the needs of the community,” Rugge said. “It’s also bursting at the seams.”
“This project is huge for Warrensburg,” Warrensburg Town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said in a prepared statement. “In addition to enhancing excellent health care services, the new health center will be a prominent addition to Main Street. It’s a real positive development for our community.”
Hudson Headwaters board member Jean Cronin said the northern HHHN facilities routinely refer many patients to the Warrensburg health center, traditionally the core facility for the chain of 14 health centers in the southern Adirondacks.
“It’s gratifying to see how deeply Hudson Headwaters is committed to Warrensburg,” Cronin said in a press release. “Now we can count on the new health center continuing Hudson Headwaters’ 36-year presence in our community for the next 40 or 50 years.”
Rugge praised Senator Schumer for supporting the grant application every step of the way. Hudson Headwaters was one of the few health centers in New York to receive construction funds from the federal Health and Human Services agency.George Purdue, HHHN Chief Administrative Officer, outlined steps that lie ahead for HHHN in turning the new health center into a reality.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said in a press release. “We will now continue to sit down with the Town of Warrensburg to meet planning, design review and other requirements.”
Purdue said that the site plan, conceptual design and budget submitted to the federal government need to be refined.
Purdue said that Hudson Headwaters expects to break ground as early as next spring. “We are looking to raise more than a million dollars to complete the project,” he said.
The new facility will be built in front of the existing health center, a structure that was originally an A&P grocery store before it was converted in 1976. Once construction is complete, the old facility — which underwent several renovations and expansions — will be torn down and the space redeveloped into a municipal parking lot for both the health center and downtown businesses.