A hospital and bank with strong ties to both Huntingdon and Fulton counties are encouraging local residents to join their efforts to improve access to dialysis treatment.

Community State Bank of Orbisonia and the Fulton County Medical Center Foundation launched “Dollars for Dialysis” Christmas Day, asking community members to partner with them to help fund a new dialysis department at McConnellsburg-based FCMC.

Community State Bank, which has a branch office in McConnellsburg, will match all monetary gifts for the project up to a total of $15,000.

Michael Straley, executive director for the FCMC Foundation, said the dialysis department, in partnership with Dialysis Care Center, is slated to open in spring 2019 in the former special service area on the hospital’s campus in McConnellsburg. The project cost, for equipment and remodeling, is $85,000.

“As a foundation we wanted to support this endeavor so we reached out to Community State Bank. They’ve been wonderful through the years in supporting different projects and supporting our events,” Straley said.

“As a community bank, we feel giving our time, talent and financial support is extremely important,” Trudy Everhart, Community State Bank president and CEO, said. “Being able to be a part of bringing a service like dialysis to our community is such a joy, it’s like helping family.”

Morgan Rhone, marketing manager for Community State Bank, is part of the Dollar for Dialysis promotions team, along with Straley and Misty Hershey, FCMC’s director of public relations and community benefit. Rhone said all donations, no matter how small, are appreciated.

“Every dollars counts — if you’re donating a dollar, it’s going to double,” Rhone said, adding the project goal is one close to many local residents.

“Everybody knows somebody who needs dialysis,” she said. “The program is going to hit home with a lot of people.”

Kim Slee, FCMC’s chief operations officer and vice president, said hospital leaders and area residents have long been in discussion on the need for dialysis service.

“I would not hesitate to say that it’s been 20-plus years this has been tossed around,” she said, adding key elements, including a partner with dialysis expertise, plus a suitable location, have finally come together and now the community at large can help the project continue on its trajectory.

“We’ve always prided ourselves in bringing what health services are needed in the community close to home so folks don’t have to travel,” Hershey said, adding dialysis did prove a challenge until now.

“We knew there was a need, but financially, we couldn’t do it on our own,” she said.

While preparing for the Dollars for Dialysis fundraising campaign, Straley said he’s had opportunity speak with local dialysis patients and their caregivers about the challenges they face without local services.

“It’s been a real eye-opener,” Straley said. “The travel is unbelievable. One lady I’ve interviewed gets up at 3 a.m. in order to get her ride to a neighboring county for her 6 a.m. appointment — three days a week.”

Straley continued that the local terrain in inclement weather is another obstacle for patients, especially those who cross over Tuscarora Mountain to reach treatment in neighboring Franklin County.

Slee said at present, the closest dialysis clinics to the McConnellsburg area are over the mountain in Chambersburg or toward Hagerstown.

“Either way, it’s quite a drive and quite a commitment,” she said.

Because of FCMC’s location, Straley said the community it serves crosses county and state lines.

“We serve southern Huntingdon County, west into the Breezewood and Bedford areas, the western half of Franklin County, the Path Valley area and, to the south, the Hancock, Maryland area,” he said, adding bringing a dialysis center to FCMC opens up new opportunity for all patients.

“The community has been wanting dialysis and needing dialysis for years and we’re hoping the community really rallies around this project,” Straley said.

To make a tax-deductible gift to “Dollars for Dialysis,” please make checks payable to the FCMC Foundation. Please designate the gift as dialysis project. Mail it to: FCMC Foundation, 214 Peach Orchard Road, McConnellsburg, PA 17233. A gift by credit card may be made over the phone at 717-485-6322 or online at www.fcmcpa.org.

Rebecca can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.

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