Strong Health Opens New Medical Building in Wellsville

June 28, 2000

Wellsville community leaders and Strong Health will officially open a new downtown medical office with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 29.

For four years, the building at 127 N. Main St. in Wellsville has stood vacant. As a former Rite Aid Pharmacy, this building was once known as a place for citizens to fill prescriptions. Now, following five months of renovation, the handicap-accessible, 6,600-square-foot structure is a state-of-the-art health care facility.

Equipped with 15 patient exam rooms, a common waiting area, and ample parking space, the new facility is spacious enough to house the medical practices of four physicians and two or three mid-level providers such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Rotating specialists from Strong Health will also be using these offices to provide additional medical services to the community.

Strong Health, a Rochester-area health care network that includes Strong Memorial Hospital, the Children's Hospital at Strong and other providers, rented the building from landlords Michael and Michelle Raptis. "I am delighted that Strong Health has decided to invest in Wellsville," said Michael Raptis. "It's a prime location with a top-notch medical tenant. That's great news for this community."

In the next couple of weeks, a number of high-tech features will be installed in the building which will ensure the highest level of care for those in Wellsville and surrounding towns and villages. A fiber optic connection will allow for direct transmission of test results between the new office on Main Street and nearby Jones Memorial Hospital. Teleconferencing equipment will also soon provide physicians with unique clinical and educational opportunities, including live consults with Strong Memorial Hospital doctors and participation in grand rounds taking place in Rochester.

Although Strong Health sponsored the project, the Wellsville community did the legwork. Community contractors completed the building construction, the local Association of Retarded Citizens is contracted to clean the facility, and the work of local artists will grace the facility's exam rooms. Seventeen works of art - including photographs, paintings, scratchboard and pencil sketches created by Wellsville-area artists, will be on permanent display.

Wellsville Mayor Susan Goetchius will participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday. "I am very excited about Strong Health's decision to use this space," she said. "It promises to enhance the health care options available to area residents while also drawing residents to our downtown area."

Strong Health has a long-standing affiliation with both St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell and Jones Memorial in Wellsville. The office on Main Street will be strongly tied to the Wellsville hospital and community. Through the partnership, Strong Health already directs Jones Memorial's Emergency Department, collaborates on its laboratory services, and provides a variety of specialty experts - in heart care, cancer treatment, lung disorders, rehabilitation and other specialties - who see patients regularly at the Hospital.

Bill DiBerardino, Jones Memorial Hospital president and CEO, said, "Strong Health's long-term commitment to provide additional medical offices and physicians to the Wellsville area shows its ongoing desire to strengthen the affiliation with our institution and the desire to help us bring the highest quality medical care to our community. As we look to the future, I'm more confident than ever that we have chosen the best possible health care partner."

Contractor L.C. Whitford Company completed the renovation process in May, which allowed Wellsville internist Keith Sale, M.D. to move his medical practice into the new facility on Mother's Day.

Sale joined Strong Health earlier this year, and is currently the primary physician at the site. Strong Health plans to recruit other physicians to practice in the building as well. "Dr. Keith Sale is a popular physician with a thriving medical practice," said Leo Brideau, president/CEO, Strong Partners Health System, Inc. "An additional partner will help us continue to provide individualized care and manage growing numbers of patients. Strong Health has a long history of working with Jones Memorial and we are pleased to be able to offer patients a central, specially designed location in the heart of Wellsville, near the hospital."

"The new building is absolutely wonderful, beautiful and state-of-the-art," said Sale. "It is a nice compromise between clinical and elegant." He added that the facility will have a "big impact on the community, and will be helpful in attracting and retaining the finest physicians."

Representatives from Strong Health and the Wellsville community will officially cut the ribbon on Thursday, June 29. The ceremony will include speeches by Brideau, Sale, DiBernardino, Goetchius, and Jones Memorial Board Chair Roy Lucas. An open house for the area dignitaries will follow the presentation from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. There will also be an open house for community members during the Great Wellsville Balloon Rally in July.

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Susan Fandel
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