Health Related

North Country Family Health to expand

By: ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON

CHAMPLAIN — North Country Family Health plans to construct a new facility in an effort to better serve the Northern Tier.

Hudson Headwaters Health Network has purchased 5.8 acres of vacant land in the Town of Champlain, where it intends to build a new home for the medical offices, currently located at 481 State Route 11.

Formerly North Country Medical Group, the primary-care practice of Dr. Maurice Racine became Family Health in 2012, when it was purchased by the nonprofit Hudson Headwaters through a federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services. 

It was converted into a community clinic.

OUTGROWN

The new facility, intended to facilitate the expansion of Racine’s growing practice, will be located on the north side of Route 11, just east of Price Chopper.

Family Health serves the communities of Champlain, Chazy, Mooers, Rouses Point and the surrounding areas by providing family, preventive, internal, sports and pediatrics and adolescent medicine; women’s health care; minor surgeries; lab tests; and social work.

However, according to Racine, it has become difficult to squeeze patients into the clinic’s current home, which was built in 1962.

“We’ve pretty much outgrown the building,” he told the Press-Republican.

MORE SPACE NEEDED

“A top priority for Hudson Headwaters is to build a big, beautiful health center for our patients in the Champlain area,” the network’s CEO, Dr. John Rugge, said in a media release.

“The existing health center is logging 1,000 patient visits every month.

“We need more space and a more modern building to better serve the area.”

The new center will be a great asset to the northern part of Clinton County, Racine noted, as it will provide under-served populations, such as the elderly and Medicare and Medicaid patients, with greater access to health care.

“It’s going to offer a higher level of care for most of the patients up here,” he said.

EXPANDED SERVICES

The hope, Racine added, is to have the building up within the next two years.

The project is in its initial stages, he noted, so the design and features of the facility are still under consideration.

Hudson Headwaters plans to work in conjunction with Clinton County Mental Health and Addiction Services in Plattsburgh, CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh and Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington to identify what the community’s needs are and what services could be provided at the new site.

For example, Racine said, additional offerings could include X-rays, a full-time lab and specialists coming to the facility to save patients from having to travel.

The larger space will likely require more staff, he noted; however, it’s too early to say for sure what staffing needs will be.

“Hopefully, it will be easier to recruit other physicians to the area to work up here,” Racine said.

He expects more details of the project will be available in the next four or five months, as the planning process progresses.

UTILITY HOOKUPS

Champlain Town Supervisor Larry Barcomb said he is hopeful the town’s proposed new water district will be in place before the medical center is constructed.

The district would provide water service to a stretch of Route 11, including the site the medical center is planned for, as well as the East Service and West Service roads and other areas.

The town has been awarded some money for the project but is waiting for additional funding, Barcomb said.

Also in the works are plans to add wastewater infrastructure to the same general area.

“They definitely need public water and sewer,” Barcomb said of the health center.

Barcomb added he was pleased to hear about Family Health’s relocation and expansion plans; both Champlain and surrounding communities will benefit, he said.

“It’s great news for the Northern Tier.”

Email Ashleigh Livingston:alivingston@pressrepublican.com

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