July 19 – A lease agreement approved on Tuesday means a new walk-in urgent care medical clinic could be operating in the town of Johnstown by this time next year.
The Johnstown Redevelopment Authority has unanimously approved a lease agreement for the former Cambria-Rowe Business College building, located at 221 Central Ave. in the Moxham section of town, to an organization called Ave Maria Medical Center, run by Dr. George Frem, a well-known local nephrologist.
The mission is to open a site where patients can receive basic medical care for common illnesses and routine injuries, as well as services such as telemedicine, medical care, family medicine treatment, health women and prepared meals for people with special dietary needs such as heart disease and diabetes.
Programs should be developed in phases.
“In a nutshell, this medical center will have something for everyone – something for the elderly, something for women, something for young people,” Frem said.
Other urgent care medical clinics already exist in the area, but Frem said his planned urgent care center is “much needed for the city of Johnstown.” The clinic will be an extension of the health care he has provided to the community throughout his career, he said.
“This is just the journey I started many years ago,” Frem said. “It’s going to…bring it together in one package where I’m able to provide compassionate care and care for people with dignity, in the right way. It means a lot to me because it’s the journey I’ve been on. started, and now it’s going to be meaningful to me.”
Frem hopes the center will be able to open by next summer, but that timeline depends on how long construction takes, given current supply chain limitations. He worked closely with the President of the JRA, Msgr. Raymond Balta on the project.
“I just think the city itself should have, absolutely, an urgent care facility,” Balta said. “Also, these other facilities are for people who I think are looking for something more comprehensive with their health care.”
Balta called the proposed clinic “a great thing for the city.”
“I think preventative medicine and preventative care and concerns will also make a big difference in the community,” Balta said. “I think it’s really unique.”
The center will move into a building that has been vacant since Cambria-Rowe Business College closed in 2016.
JRA, which purchased the structure after the college closed, was working with Pittsburgh-based Telehealth Suite, a health-tech company that wanted to open a call center to help people recover from opioid addiction. . This plan never materialized.
Balta and JRA executive director Melissa Komar said Telehealth Suite had not committed to a definitive timeline, so the authority dropped the project. Telehealth Suite President Apryle Horbal, a graduate of Richland High School, did not immediately respond to an interview request.
Funding for the Telehealth Suite project had already been secured, including more than $1.2 million from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Program and $1.95 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. .
These funds will now go to the Ave Maria plan.
“Because the grants we applied for were focused on health care, we are able to use the grants we never tapped for the Cambria-Rowe Building for this project,” Komar said. “Those were our grants to start with, held by the authority, never held by TeleHealth.”
Komar added, “We never took a single dollar out of the funding, so it’s really nothing. It’s like the grants are starting from scratch because we never used them.”
State Representative Jim Rigby and State Senator Wayne Langerholc Jr. said they both support transferring state funds from the Telehealth Suite project to the proposed Ave Maria Medical Center.