SOMERSET — The Genesis Perry County Medical Center has become a vital asset to those in the Somerset community as well as those residing in Perry County. Staff, residents and public officials visited the medical center on Tuesday to welcome the addition of a road leading directly to the facility.

According to Director of Facility Planning at Genesis Healthcare Systems Greg Matonak, when the hospital was first created, emergency medical crews had to use an alternate route in order to get patients into the hospital.

The alternate route proved to be difficult for medical personnel as the road was very narrow as well as in need for infrastructural improvements.

“When we first opened the medical center, we were using the Dr. Mike Clouse Drive — essentially it is the road that gets residents into the pool, the ball field and the park back there,” Matonak told The Perry County Tribune.

The director of facility planning added that with the unique location of the medical center, the road would also be used frequently by residents in the community. This added some traffic problems which could have caused hindrances for medical professionals answering emergency calls.

“We didn’t feel that it would probably be the safest option in the future,” Matonak stated. “You have someone coming in with an emergency and they have to go by the traffic at the pool and there might be ball games — that just wasn’t a longterm solution.”

Matonak explained that once the facility in Somerset was active, some property became available located directly in front, facing east, of the medical center along state Route 13. The road was then acquired and the decision to build a road off of the state route was almost immediate.

“The decision to build a road was just a much, much better option,” Matonak commented.

With the proposal of the new road, emergency medical crews would have a more direct route to the center. The road also bypasses the baseball field, the park and the community pool.

While the road has a more direct pathway to the center, Matonak stated that he did not conduct a time study to test the efficiency of the road. However, it may prove to be that the Dr. Mike Clouse Drive route is not suitable for EMS trucks to traverse.

“With the new road, it would be a shorter and more direct drive into our facility,” Matonak commented.

The proposal for the new road began six months ago and was completed the week of June 8, according to Matonak. The total cost of the project was $600,000.

On June 9, the road was officially declared open and ready for use as approximately 50 people were present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Social distancing standards and facial coverings were also being practiced during the large gathering, according to Matonak.

“The gathering was composed of Genesis leadership and employees, the descendants of Dr. Charles E. Bope family, Somerset public officials, and Somerset residents,” Matonak stated. “It really surprised me.”

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