Council OKs rezoning request for new one-stop medical facility

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Monday, Punxsutawney Borough Council approved a request to rezone the area of Prushnok Drive from industrial to town center commercial to accommodate the planned construction of a new health care facility in that area.

The zoning change had already been approved by the Planning Commission.
John D. Laeng, chief executive officer of Primary Health Network (PHN) in Sharon, said the project is a three-story, multi-service center that will have multiple tenants and be comprised of medical and specialist practices and a pharmacy. Organizers are also looking to add laboratory services and possibly a state health center.

Laeng said in January, PHN took over an existing practice, Punxsutawney Medical Associates, which will move its facility to the new complex.

“We try to do one-stop shopping for health services,” as one can visit the center and have all of his or her medical services completed in one day in one location, he said.

Also, there will be other social services located in the building. Community Action Inc. is under consideration, as is a child advocacy group.

“We’ve learned from past experience that we should over-build instead of under-build, because we usually run out of space after the first year,” Laeng said. “That is why we’re building a 45,000-square foot facility rather than a 28,000-square foot facility that we need right now, so we will add other tenants as time goes on.

“The one-stop shop is a real important concept and attracts businesses as well as patients,” Laeng said.

PHN owns 36 centers, only three of which are multi-service centers. There is one multi-center in Clarion, and PHN is pursuing another in Altoona.

“We found out the bigger we build a center, the better it is received by the public,” Laeng said.

He said the new medical center will bring about 100 jobs to the borough.
Council member Toby Santik said traffic is bad in that area, which will have to be addressed. Council President Larry Chenoga said the borough will check with the state about placing a traffic signal in the East End.

Laeng said PHN is willing to work on solving some of the traffic problems. Police Chief Tom Fedigan said he and Mayor Jim Wehrle would also work with PHN.

Responding to a question from council member Michele Lorenzo, Laeng said PHN has no plans for a drug and alcohol rehab location at the center.