Health center week noted

WARRENSBURG National Health Center Week begins on Aug. 5, and Hudson Headwaters Health Network wants you to know about it. This years theme is Your Health Care Home.

With 12 health centers throughout the North Country, Hudson Headwaters sees 60,000 people each year. This year alone they expect to provide $2 million in uncompensated care and pharmacy discounts. But the network that serves 3,700 square miles in the Adirondack region started much smaller.

The health organization that was to become Hudson Headwaters took root in the 1970s, a time when basic health care was vanishing in the Adirondacks. Physicians who had arrived after World War II were retiring and small hospitals, long a mainstay of rural health care, were closing, unable to compete with larger, urban facilities. This mountainous region, with a high percentage of indigent and uninsured residents, faced an acute shortage of physicians.

Hudson Headwaters began with a single health center established in Chestertown in 1974 when Dr. John Rugge arrived on the scene. Many North Country residents had to travel long distances for health care at that time, with a severe shortage of doctors.

To attract new practitioners to the region, the organization developed an approach that combines the intimacy of a small-town practice with the advantages of an urban-sized medical group. Over the next several years, new health centers opened in Warrensburg, North Creek and Indian Lake.

In 1981, armed with federal funding for community health centers, these four centers officially became the Hudson Headwaters Health Network -- a community-based, state-licensed, not-for-profit health corporation.

By partnering with host communities and finding outside support, Hudson Headwaters had found a formula for reducing barriers to care for individuals and families with limited means. In each instance, the health center was made possible by community support. Hudson Headwaters provided the care while the community provided the facility.

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