A federal grant of $1.2 million will construct 2,087 feet of new access roads to the upgraded Penn Highlands DuBois East Behavioral Health campus on Maple Avenue.
“This ARC grant is doing exactly what it’s intended to do: support rural communities and ensure residents have reliable access to medical care,” U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson said. “This is tremendous news for DuBois and Penn Highlands. I am happy to see the positive contribution this project will have on delivering high-quality care to the community.”
The project is made possible through a $1,227,895 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), said Thompson.
The improvements coincide with a hospital expansion project that will create 110 new jobs, add 82 new beds, and address various regional medical issues including the ever-growing opioid crisis.
The project was a collaborative effort between the City of DuBois, North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, Penn Highlands Healthcare, and local emergency medical services and drug treatment centers.
“We are very pleased that this funding was approved,” said Steven M. Fontaine, CEO of Penn Highlands Healthcare. “It is an ideal time to make road improvements as we upgrade and expand our behavioral health services at this hospital. This project is extremely important to our local residents who have had to travel outside the region for services or have opted not to receive services because they cannot travel. We are confident that our expanded programs will play an integral role in the collaborative battle against the opioid crisis that affects us locally.”
“All of us working together — local, state and federal agencies, and Penn Highlands Healthcare — will benefit the residents of our region for many years to come,” said Fontaine.
The estimated start time of the Behavioral Health campus project is late summer or early fall of this year. It is expected to take about 18 months to complete, Fontaine said.
“We’re very excited to receive this grant and partner with Penn Highlands Healthcare,” said DuBois City Manager John “Herm” Suplizio. “The City of DuBois is happy to help them in any way possible. The access road improvements in the area of Penn Highlands DuBois East Behavioral Health campus will enhance our community even more.”
The City of DuBois works extremely hard and always does its best to try and secure as many grants as possible to improve the community, said Suplizio.
“On behalf of the city, I want to thank North Central and Appalachian Regional, and especially Rep. Thompson for all of his help and initiative in securing this grant,” said Suplizio.
“The Appalachian Regional Commission funding of the access road improvements to the City of DuBois and Penn Highlands new Behavioral Health Hospital represents a critical infrastructure investment toward an important regional project serving a multi-county area,” said Bob Rusiewski of North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission. “The local $22 million investment by Penn Highlands and the grant by ARC illustrate the local-state-federal partnership that makes projects like this possible.”
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Penn Highlands Behavioral Health Expansion Entrance Project consists of the reconstruction and expansion of existing roadways that include 1,562 feet on Sunflower Drive, 175 feet on Griesemer Street, 175 feet on Sixth Street, and 175 feet on Geranium Alley.
With the expansion of the health center facilities, PennDOT estimates 870 to 1,286 trips per day into and out of the area. These improvements will produce a much-needed traffic calming effect and will allow for pedestrian access from the public transit stop and the state access road, authorities say.
The center’s entrance expansion is one phase of the master facilities plan coordinating construction and renovation to multiple areas and focusing specifically on eight projects across the Penn Highlands Healthcare system to deliver higher quality care to the community.
ABOUT THE ARC
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner with, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia and help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.