The Broad Top Area Medical Center (BTAMC) is under new leadership.

Dr. John Roth, who most recently was selected to head the walk-in clinic that opened in June, was named CEO Dec. 1.

Roth said former CEO Melissa Walls tendered her resignation as CEO after she found other employment opportunities closer to her native state of Ohio.

“She has elderly parents she was helping to take care of, and her children and grandchildren live in Ohio,” said Roth. “This new job gave her the opportunity to get closer to her family so she could be there when she needed to be there.”

The board of BTAMC decided that Roth would be the best fit as CEO after looking at the changes with health care happening locally.

“We are at such a critical juncture, especially when we brought on the practices from J.C. Blair (Health System), along with opening up the walk-in clinic and looking to open a new pediatric clinic in a couple of months,” said Roth. “We realized it was too critical of a juncture to bring someone from the outside without any knowledge of what is going on, so with the blessing of my wife, I, being in the area for 26 years, stepped forward.”

Roth, in addition to his years of practicing medicine, is also a certified public accountant, and he feels confident, with the aid of help from Walls, he’ll be able to fill the role.

“Melissa had 20-plus years working with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), and the board recognized the importance of that,” he said. “She’s been here for three-plus years, so she can help to provide her knowledge, understanding and expertise on a consultant basis. We felt confident that is what’s best for the community at large.”

Additionally, it also allows Dr. James Hayden, current medical director, to stay in that position of leadership.

“This will also keep him at (Huntingdon Family Practice) to continue on to practice there, something he’s done for 30-plus years,” said Roth.

Though Roth will fill the position as CEO, he will continue to practice medicine, so his role won’t be strictly administrative.

“I am going to still practice full-time at the walk-in clinic, and I have another (physician) coming in March 1, and over time, he will be taking that position,” he said.

Roth said once he’s fully credentialed at all of the practices under BTAMC, he will be filling in as needed.

With the retirement of Dr. Allen Ettenger at the end of the year, there will be no pediatricians at the Pediatric Care Center, but Roth said there are plans to bring more pediatricians back to that office.

“We’re in the process of looking at a group from Altoona to provide that care in Huntingdon County,” he said.

The vision of BTAMC, according to Roth, is to find ways to provide care to residents of the community as a FQHC.

“People look at (BTAMC) as a medical center, but we’re much more than that; we’ve evolved into a system,” he said. “We’re continuing to work on the foundation so we can continue to provide primary care to fulfill the original vision of (former J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital CEO) Jason Hawkins.”

The practices under BTAMC, including Broad Top Area Medical Center, Broad Top City; Huntingdon Family Care Center, Huntingdon; Mount Union Area Medical Center; Huntingdon; Primary Care Center, Huntingdon, and Trough Creek Medical Center, Cassville, are FQHCs, which is a reimbursement designation from the Bureau of Primary Health Care and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that allows significant for several health programs funded under the Health Center Consolidation Act.

BTAMC and the practices became a FQHC in 2016.

“You have to applaud Jason Hawkins for that vision,” he said. “Medicine has evolved, and it’s difficult for private and hospital-based practices, and it’s more difficult for areas with low-density populations. The FQHC is the best way to fulfill that role.”

Roth said he’s excited for the role that Penn Highlands Healthcare will play once the partnership with J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital is complete.

“I think it’s ideal because (Penn Highlands Healthcare) understands us better, because they’re from a rural area,” he said. “We hopefully will complement them and see (the hospital) flourish and provide the hospital-based care the community desperately needs.”

Kylie can be reached at khawn@huntingdondailynews.com.

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