With troop cuts looming, hospitals serving Fort Drum receive $650,000 in state funding
On Thursday, the Army is expected to announce where it plans to cut troops on bases around the country. Despite the looming draw down, New York state continues to invest in Fort Drum.
State Sen. Patty Richie announced yesterday that she has secured $650,000 dollars for four hospitals that serve Fort Drum troops and their families.
Samaritan Hospital in Watertown is one of the North Country’s largest hospitals. A quarter of their patients are military. About half on the babies they deliver are Fort Drum babies. Tom Carman, the CEO of Samaritan, says the $125,000 the hospital will receive will go towards renovating the maternity ward.
“This will give us more capability as well as more modern capability. And much more asthetically pleasing as well,” Carman said.
River Hospital in Alexandria Bay will get $175,000 to expand its PTSD treatment program. That program was recently allowed to continue operating despite an Army directive to move all treatment programs on base. Carthage Area Hospital and Gouverneur Hospital will also use the funds they receive for expansions and renovations.
The money for the four hospitals comes from a special fund in Albany to protect New York military installations from cutbacks. Ritchie says local lawmakers need to continue to speak up about the economic importance of Fort Drum to the region.
“I think we are all waiting to hear the news from Washington and we understand that any changes that are made could potentially have a devastating effect on the North Country so we want to make sure we are continuing to do all we can," Ritchie said.
A hundred thousand dollars of the funds will also go toward the Development Authority of the North Country to help local governments plan and coordinate projects with Fort Drum officials.