HUNTINGDON - As J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital wraps up its centennial
celebration, its leaders are looking to the future.
"Our vision for the future is to serve the needs of the community to the best of our ability, expand and add new services and retool services to adapt to a changing marketplace," President and CEO Joseph J. Peluso said. "That takes good leadership, and it is up to our board and medical staff to provide that leadership."
(Mirror photo illustration by J.D. Cavrich and Tom Worthington II)
J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital in Huntingon is marking its 100th year. The hospital admitted its first patient on Sept. 4, 1911.
J.C. Blair, which admitted its first patient Sept. 4, 1911, will wrap up its centennial celebration with its annual community meeting and breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday in the J.C. Blair Education Center. The meeting will conclude with a centennial finale ceremony with the lowering of the centennial flag and placing of a time capsule at the hospital.
Kate Fisher Blair is considered the founder of the Warm Springs Avenue hospital. She donated $100,000 to build a hospital to serve the needs of Huntingdon and nearby communities. She named the hospital in honor of her husband, James Chalmers Blair, an industrialist and philanthropist who died in 1897.
The hospital has undergone four additions over the years, and the original part of the building was demolished in 1996.
J.C. Blair was also home to a nurses training school from 1915 to 1940.
Today, J.C. Blair is licensed for 100 beds and has more than 500 employees.
Peluso calls J.C. Blair a small community-based hospital.
J.C. Blair provides basic acute care services, medical surgical services, behavioral health services, OB/GYN services, pediatric services and emergency services. It also provides cardiac care, podiatry, orthopedics, pulmonology, dermatology, hematology, oncology, urology and GI services.
J.C. Blair also has a sleep center, wound care center and occupational health center.
"We offer a pretty wide variety of services for a community hospital," Peluso said.
The hospital's niche is its service to the community.
"We are the only hospital in the county. We provide solid access to primary health care," said Christine R. Gildea, director of marketing and community relations.
"We are fortunate we have hospitals like Mount Nittany, Altoona, Geisinger, Hershey and UPMC available to provide higher-end, tertiary-care service and we can avail ourselves to their expertise," Peluso said.
The way hospitals provide care to patients has changed over the years.
J.C. Blair has embraced the use of hospitalists - specially trained physicians who provide care to patients when they are admitted to the hospital.
"When patients are admitted, they are referred to a hospitalist who manages their care, keeps them in contact with their family care physician and refers back to the family care physician. The hospitalist provides a good continuity of care and is on site to manage the care of the patient throughout the day," Peluso said. "It is a good system to have someone on scene to take care of the patient; there is more of a team effort today."
Care has shifted from inpatient to outpatient care.
"We have over 100,000 outpatient visits a year compared to 2,000 inpatient visits," Gildea said.
The emergency department also has changed over the years.
"It is now used for multiple purposes. We treat anything from a sore throat or a cut to someone in a life-threatening situation who needs stabilized and flown out," Gildea said.
"We had 10,000 [patients] in the emergency department in 1970 and over 17,000 today," Peluso said. "It grows about 3 percent a year, and we anticipate additional growth."
Future plans include an ER addition and renovation and the addition of a women's imaging center.
Plans call for adding about 9,000 square feet of new space, renovating the present emergency department and outpatient area on the first floor. Peluso said details and a time frame for that project will be released by summer.
"That will enable us to accommodate and provide better access for patients and make it easier for emergency services to transport patients in and out of the hospital," Peluso said.
The women's imaging center, which will include a digital mammography unit with stereotactic breast biopsy, is expected to open during the first quarter of 2012.
"We want to provide comprehensive imaging services geared toward women in the community," Peluso said. "It is designed to be a more comfortable and private setting for women. The purpose is to provide greater access and quicker diagnosis and develop a recommended plan of treatment."
The hospital's people and support of the community has enabled J.C. Blair to survive for 100 years, Peluso said.
"We have been blessed with an exceptional medical staff and a staff who are dedicated to the patients. They have a passion for providing the best care for the patients," he said. "The community over the years has showed tremendous support for the hospital."
The hospital has been blessed with many loyal employees.
"We have people who have been here thirty-plus years, this has been their life. There has been very low turnover," Gildea said. "We will need that loyalty to continue."
Peluso is excited about J.C. Blair's future.
"To me, it is pretty exciting there are always more challenges and frontiers in Huntingdon County. We need to come up with innovative ways to serve the community," Peluso said. "We've been fortunate to have good leaders over the years who have lead the organization in the right way to benefit the community."
"We have a responsibility to the community, there is a sense of responsibility to keep it around and keep it thriving," said Valerie Long, centennial events coordinator.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.