The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

March 4, 2014

Family Health Center now open in Conneaut

CONNEAUT — The Ashtabula County Medical Center officially launched its first foray into Conneaut on Monday, snipping the ribbon on its Family Health Center in the Conneaut Plaza shopping center.

The clinic is home to family physician Dr. Tony Ruffa as well as a lengthy list of diagnostic services, including laboratory, digital x-ray and digital mammography. Medical and city officials, as well as State Sen. Capri Cafaro and State Rep. John Patterson, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“It’s an exciting day for ACMC and the Conneaut community,” said Michael Habowski, president and CEO.

The center represents a $1.2 million “major commitment” for ACMC, Habowski said. Ruffa, recruited from Erie, will be joined by a half-dozen other employees, he said.

ACMC leaders said a presence in Conneaut was long overdue. With the center’s arrival, patients won’t need to travel great distances for treatment and tests, officials said.

“We will serve the underserved,” Ruffa said. “They can now avoid lengthy trips to Erie or Cleveland. A healthy Conneaut is a prosperous Conneaut.”

Ruffa said he was honored to be asked to be the founding physician at the center, and has been impressed by the town’s charitable nature. “The city has really bonded together and looks out for its unfortunate,” he said.

Ruffa joined ACMC in August and saw patients in Ashtabula while the center was under construction. Ruffa saw his first patient in Conneaut on Monday. He has seen more than 100,000 patients since becoming a physician more than 23 years ago, he said.

Dr. Suk K. Choi, physician representative to ACMC’s board of directors, said the hospital is “excited” about its Conneaut debut.

“I’ve been here long enough to tell you Conneaut is in our hearts,” he said. “(ACMC) always wanted to do something for the people in Conneaut. We are ready and happy to be able to finally serve the people in Conneaut.”

The center is packed with the latest medical equipment, officials said. “Some of the newest technology is here,” Habowski said.

Choi agreed. “It’s like a small hospital here,” he said.

The loss of some of Conneaut’s primary care physicians over the past few years prompted the project, Habowski said in a statement. “Access to primary care is vital to the health and well-being of a community,” he said in a statement.

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