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INDIANA COUNTY: Emergency drill to offer free flu shots

by RANDY WELLS rwells@indianagazette.net on October 17, 2013 11:00 AM

Area residents will soon have an opportunity to benefit from an exercise testing the county’s ability to distribute emergency medicines over an extended period of time.

The Indiana County Health and Human Services Subcommittee plans to offer free flu shots for 19 continuous hours at three locations in a “drive-through” style.

Bonni Dunlap, executive director of the county’s Department of Human Services, said Wednesday at the county commissioners’ meeting that the free flu shots (which typically cost about $35) will be administered from 7 p.m. Oct. 26 to 2 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Clymer Fire Hall, 550 Sherman St.; under the front portico of Indiana Regional Medical Center; and at WyoTech, 500 Innovation Drive, Burrell Township.

Anyone age 6 months and older will be eligible for a free inoculation and they will not have to leave their vehicle. People taking advantage of the offer are asked not to have pets with them in their vehicles.

Dunlap said scores of volunteers will be helping with the exercise and anyone receiving a flu shot between midnight and 5 a.m. on Oct. 27 will be entered in a drawing to win four Pittsburgh Penguins tickets.

The commissioners Wednesday also passed resolutions giving their support to two major upcoming expansion projects in the Indiana area.

The first is an extensive renovation and new construction project at Indiana Regional Medical Center that will update the hospital’s surgical services and intensive care unit. Two new floors will be added above IRMC’s emergency department.

IRMC officials have said the project will help keep the hospital competitive and will add new technology that will enable the hospital to provide better patient care.

Commission Chairman Rod Ruddock said the improvements are also important because they will help attract new and talented doctors to IRMC who want to work with the latest technology and the equipment they were trained on.

The hospital improvements may have a maximum price tag of $60 million, including refinancing of existing debt.

The other project is a planned $10 million new construction and renovation at St. Andrew’s Village, a continuing care retirement community along Indian Springs Road, White Township.

Under that plan, St. Andrew’s 131-bed health care center will be renovated into “households,” each centered around a large, country-style kitchen and serving 22 to 42 residents. The renovations will also add a new community learning and living center and large outdoor courtyards.

The St. Andrew’s project might begin this month and should be completed in 18 to 24 months.

The county has no financial investment in either project, but as required by the federal Tax Equity Fiscal and Responsibility Act, the county commissioners Wednesday morning conducted two public hearings and acted as a conduit for accepting public comments on either of the projects. There were no comments received at either hearing.

“These are both outstanding projects,” not only for the health and comfort of area residents but also because both IRMC and St. Andrew’s Village are important components of the county’s economy, Ruddock said.

The commissioners also passed a resolution authorizing a competitive community development block grant application for $370,000 to be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The grant would be added to $196,500 of county CDBG money to complete the financial package for correcting water treatment deficiencies at the Arcadia Water Treatment Plant.

In other action Wednesday, the commissioners:

• Reappointed Delbert Highlands, of Dayton, to the Indiana County Parks and Trails Commission.

• Proclaimed Oct. 20-26 as National Business Women’s Week; Oct. 19 as Special Olympics Day; and October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the county.

• Recognized Barbara Weyand as the county’s Community Action Inc. Senior Corps’ “Volunteer of the Year.” Weyand for 28 years has been a volunteer at the United Area Food Pantry that serves 204 families each month.

• Reminded county residents Oct. 29 is the last day to apply for absentee ballots for the Nov. 5 general election.

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