Two regional health care facilities recently received much-needed funding under the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.
Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint, and Sen. Cris Dush, R-Brookville, announced $3.5 million in funding to support facility improvements at Bradford Regional Medical Center and Kane Lutheran Home.
The RACP program is for “the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historic improvement projects” that have a regional impact, according to the Budget Office.
BRMC will receive $1.07 million for a number of infrastructure upgrades, including replacing the pavilion roof, upgrading elevators and Wi-Fi, replacing the sidewalk and emergency dock, air conditioner upgrades, east wing cooling tower replacement and envelope repairs.
Jill Owens, BRMC Chair of Upper Allegany Health Systems and Olean General Hospital, said, “Shane Oschman of the Office for Community and Economic Development (OECD) helped us secure the funding. We needed a co-sponsor and the OECD stepped in. This amount is the first installment of the $10 million over the next 10 years that will be granted to us.
She said she doesn’t know when the projects will start, as they still have to apply for the actual grants for each individual project that is on the horizon.
“We hope to do as much as possible. In addition to the pavilion roof, the whole hospital is getting a Wi-Fi upgrade because nurses and doctors are so web-dependent now and the internet needs to be accessible,” Owens said. “We will also be redoing the entrance to the emergency room and the parking lot with these funds. But what we really hope we can do is repair or replace the main generator.
There are also a few other projects on the list that BRMC hopes to tackle with RACP funding.
“I want to thank Rep. Causer and Senator Dush for their continued support,” Owens said.
Dush said the grants “will go a long way toward meeting the challenge of ensuring access to quality health care in our rural communities. I was happy to support these important investments.
Char Floravit, CEO of Lutheran Home, said she was overjoyed when she received news of the funding: “It will be so great for the whole community, now we can go full steam ahead on the projects we were hoping to achieve. We didn’t want to count our chickens, so to speak, so we haven’t gone too far with the plans for the new addition yet, but now we can.
She said they knew none of this would be possible without this kind of funding.
“We are so grateful to Senator Dush and Rep. Causer – without their support, none of this would happen,” Floravit said.
Kane’s Lutheran Home will receive $2.44 million to construct a 10,700 square foot addition that will house a new Alzheimer’s/dementia unit, with all private bedrooms and an energy-efficient kitchen; installation of a new generator; and the renovation of the old kitchen to accommodate offices and meeting rooms. There will be a gated and secure courtyard for residents and staff once all construction is complete, Floravit said. “We will also have a coffee.”
Lutheran Home’s strategic plan includes the use and promotion of sustainable energy technologies and energy efficiency to positively impact the health and well-being of residents, visitors, staff, as well as the community. environment.
In June, LHK received a grant from the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund (WPPSEF) to conduct an energy audit and ventilation review of its facilities and had already taken steps to improve energy efficiency and ventilation. The majority of the facility was upgraded to energy-efficient LED lighting several years ago, and the Lutheran home recently received a $14,700 grant from the state Department of Social Services to improve ventilation.
“While care homes have faced tremendous challenges in recent years, our team is steadfast and built for the future. We take care of the most vulnerable residents of our rural area,” said Floravit. “We need to ensure that our facilities and our team are resilient and ready to face future challenges, whether it’s a changing climate, severe weather events, interruptions in energy supply or future pandemics. We believe our residents and staff deserve the best and that energy innovation can happen in rural areas.
This new funding from RACP is exactly what LHK needed for the planned energy-efficient commercial kitchen upgrade, expansion of the Alzheimer’s and dementia unit, expansion of surgery and rehabilitation wards, and a spiritual chapel for residents, families and staff.
Floarvit said it will also be able to move all staff under one roof.
“Some of them are still in the old nursery,” she said. “It will be great to have everyone together.”
Causer said: “It is important that we continue to invest in our health care and long-term care facilities to meet the needs of our residents. I was thrilled to support this much-needed funding for our communities.