Military Matters: Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization


Fort Drum doesn't have a hospital on post.

It's not that big of a deal considering most soldiers live off-post.

But it does mean that they and their 40,000 dependents depend on civilian healthcare in the north country to meet most of their medical needs.

"It's important that we have a way to strengthen this system and when we strengthen the system, it benefits everyone.  The soldiers, their families, and the civilian residents of the community," said Denise Young, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, which coordinates doctors and hospitals in the area and finds funding for projects to improve the quality of care.

But it takes money to find money and money is running out.

In the past, the organization's operational costs, administrative staff, renting and running office space, have been paid for of by a $400,000 federal earmark.

That earmark was killed last month when Congress defeated an end of the year omnibus spending bill.

"We're not looking for an earmark, we're looking to make sure that a program that's important and core to the community is funded," said Young.

"What that means is in order to go forward, we need to find another source of funds. We're going to do everything we can to make that happen," said Congressman Bill Owens (D. - 23rd District).

Rolling it into the Army budget seems to be the most promising alternative.

"We're not out of options. And that's the thing, I think it's another hiccup that we'll figure out together," said Young.

Young says the future of the health planning organization is strong even if the funding, for now, is a little uncertain.

Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization

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Saturday, December 3, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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