On June 9 at the Tom Quick Inn, the Pike County Commissioners announced the launch of the newly formed Pike Medical Foundation and its 15-member board.
Pike County Commissioners Matthew Osterberg, Ronald Schmalzle, and Anthony Waldron created the Foundation in conjunction with the Greater Pike Foundation to raise and distribute monies to support, sustain, and enhance existing and future medical services within the county.
There have been many efforts in the last 10 years to try to bring medical services to the county but “shockingly this incredible deficiency of a complete lack of medical services persisted,” Schmalzle said. “We need to change this, and the time for action is now.”
“Pike County is the fastest growing county in Pennsylvania and 25% of us [are] 62 and older,” Osterberg said. “We cannot allow this lack of medical services to happen.”
The three commissioners have been working together to bring the Pike Medical Foundation to fruition.
“Matt is the organizer and list-maker, Tony is the brains, and I’m the dreamer,” Schmalzle said.
He then told the story of how a fortuitous set of circumstances was the motivation for helping to bring medical services here. Pete Helms, realtor and co-partner of Davis Chant Realty, sold a summer house on Lake Wallenpaupak to one of the principals of Northwell Health, New York State’s largest health care provider with 81,000 employees and owners of Lennox Hill Hospital in the New York City. The wife of one of the Northwell group had an incident and needed medical care. According to Schmalzle, they were in absolute disbelief that there are no medical services – no hospital, no urgent care – in the area.
“They immediately said ‘We plan to retire here, and we want to help and be part of the solution,”’ Schmalzle added.
Northwell will be building two urgent care facilities – one at the Weis Plaza on Route 739 and the other and the other along the 507 corridor near Lake Wallenpaupak. The facility at the Weis Plaza should be open by the end of the year, if not sooner.
This motivated the Commissioners to allocate $2 million of the American Rescue Plan Act - part of the monies the county received during COVID - to establish the Medical Foundation Fund and create a sustainable initiative to address the growing medical needs of the area in the future. The Medical Foundation board will ultimately decide on the type of facility that it will be, but the County will contribute some of the 25 acres of land they own, in the center of the County (in Blooming Grove) to a 24/7 facility to serve the people.
“We are proud to partner with the commissioners in establishing the Pike Medical Foundation Fund,” Gail Shuttleworth, Board Chair of the Greater Pike Community Foundation said. “This unique collaboration between a government agency and a non-profit foundation is a bold way to maximize and leverage resources while serving the community to address one of its most urgent and pressing needs today and into the future.”
Greater Pike will administer and manage the fund.
The commissioners praised the Medical Foundation Board comprised of prominent community leaders, each with their own network of people they can reach out to in order to help the Foundation grow. Schmalzle thanked the entire board, but also mentioned several people individually like Pete Helms, Bob Keisendahl, Justin Genzlinger, Jim Pedranti, Jenni Hamill, and Bill Rosado.
“We need to partner with these great leaders in our community to help make this dream come true, “Osterberg said, “This will be or legacy.”
“This is a huge step forward for our community,“ Bill Rosado added after thanking the commissioners.
Contributions to the Pike Medical Fund can be made at https://greaterpike.org/fund_list/.