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Harrison man hired to lead Armstrong Health Center focuses on fiscal security

| Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, 12:18 p.m.

Tom Parsons' focus as the new administrator of the Armstrong County Health Center is to provide quality care while being fiscally responsible.

Indiana's Affinity Health Services hired Parsons, 55, a Natrona Heights resident, to lead the 115-bed nursing facility on South McKean Street, Kittanning, in early February. The center offers adult day care, independent-living suites, a beautician and therapeutic and rehabilitation services to its clients.

“I absolutely believe in people-centered care, but it is still a business,” Parsons said. “We have to pay the bills, but you pay them by treating people right and increasing the quality of care.” He hopes to keep the center from losing money, and move its finances from the red into the black.

The county has budgeted $9.6 million for the center this year, which is a decrease of $105,379 from 2013. Last year, the health center went over its budget by about $800,000.

Parsons said he plans to examine the center's expenses and ongoing contracts to eliminate excessive spending and duplicated services.

He hopes to boost revenue by implementing public awareness and marketing campaigns to help showcase the center's services, including its rehabilitation program, which could attract more patients.

“Expenses are important, but it's not always about what you can cut,” Parsons said. “There was never really any marketing to let people know we're here and what we do.”

Parsons replaced interim administrator Chris Dear, who held the position since November when Affinity began managing the center. He has been in the health care field for more than 20 years. He has degrees in finance and gerontology, which is the study of the effects of aging, from the University of South Florida in Tampa Bay.

Before coming to Armstrong, Parsons worked at the Forbes Center for Rehab in Pittsburgh's Larimer neighborhood for 12 years.

Parsons said he plans to work closely with officials at Affinity and Armstrong County so the center thrives.

“The future looks bright for the health center,” Parsons said. “I want to work to bring quality care to the residents of Armstrong County, and so do the employees of the health center, the county commissioners and Affinity Health. It's nice to be on the same page with the people above and below me.”

David Battaglia, chairman of the county commissioners, said the board contracted services with Affinity to help get the center's finances in line while maintaining high standards for both employees and residents.

The commissioners have no intention of selling or closing the center, like other counties have done, especially because it has become an integral part of downtown Kittanning, he said.

“The large number of employees working there, and families visiting the center who use downtown businesses, have an impact on Kittanning's economy,” Battaglia said. “We want to see these jobs stay, thrive and help revitalize the downtown area.”

Commissioner Rich Fink said the center's new management and focus are essential to keep it stable.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337.

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