HHHN founder John Rugge to be 'roasted' at annual dinner

BRANT LAKE - Hudson Headwaters Health Network will "roast and toast" its CEO and founder Dr. John Rugge at its fourth annual Community Champions dinner to be held Sunday Sept. 13 at Jimbo's Club, at Point O'Pines Camp on Brant Lake.

Hudson Headwaters Foundation Board Chairman James Himoff said this week that his group was breaking with tradition to toast one of its own employees or executives.

"Instead of honoring external Community Champions, we will 'roast and toast' our own Dr. John Rugge to celebrate his 35th anniversary of practicing medicine in the Adirondacks," Himoff said.

An avid canoeist, Rugge was drawn to the Adirondacks in the early 1970s not long after graduating from Yale Medical School.

Discovering that physicians were retiring and closing practices in the small towns in the southern Adirondacks, Rugge established the Chestertown Health Center, then a while later, the Warrensburg Health Center. This string of health centers grew into a chain of 12 - Hudson Headwaters Health Network - which has in the meantime gained national attention as a model solution to the rural health care crisis in America.

During the 1990s, Rugge served as a health care consultant to the administration of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and he continues this role with the state Health Department.

Despite Rugge's substantial influence statewide and nationally - and his responsibilities as chief administrator of the sprawling network - Rugge has continued to see a roster of patients, which observers say demonstrates his personal commitment to others' well-being.

By offering inexpensive but expert health care, Hudson Headwaters has provided many jobs while improving the lives of area residents, community leaders have said.

HHHN has provided a multi-million-dollar payroll, representing a wide range of careers at good wages for hundreds of the north country residents.

Each year, Hudson Headwaters provides more than $3 million in uncompensated care and prescription drug discounts. Its health centers provide comprehensive primary care to people in 3,700 square miles of the Adirondack/Lake George and Metropolitan Glens Falls region.

Tickets to the fundraising event begin at $125. For information or to purchase tickets, contact Howard Nelson at 761-0300 ext. 160 or hnelson@hhhn.org.

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