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Rugge awarded for work to boost health care

WARRENSBURG - Dr. John Rugge, CEO and founder of Hudson Headwaters Health Network, has been honored with the "Power to Change the World Award" by the Family Medical Education Coalition. The award was presented to Rugge on Oct. 31 at the Coalition's 2010 northeast regional meeting in Hershey, Pa.

In announcing the award, a Coalition representative praised Rugge for his continuing efforts to make health care more efficient, affordable and available, particularly in rural areas.

"Dr. Rugge is a guide and a leader. He is committed to his profession, to the people in his region, to his family and to his patients," the representative said in a prepared statement. "He has led by his own example and has truly demonstrated the power to change."

The FMEC announcement further stated that Rugge has gained a reputation as a visionary and was invited to participate on several policy advisory panels over the years.

Rugge has served as chair of Governor Mario Cuomo's Health Care Advisory Board. He was also a member of Levitt's Medicaid Commission which attempted to modernize Medicaid. Rugge is the only primary care physician currently serving the State Hospital Review and Planning Council which is now part of the Public Health Council.

Rugge practiced medicine in the Adirondack for 36 years after graduating from Yale Medical School.

Soon after he first came to the Adirondacks, Rugge established the Chestertown Health Center when he was alarmed that primary care physicians were discontinuing their practices in region.

His mission to bring quality, affordable care to Adirondack residents led to the founding of Warrensburg Health Center, and then 10 more in a chain that's known as Hudson Headwaters Health Network.

The chain 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 President Bill Clinton.

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.

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