Oak Orchard Health opens new wellness center in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 December 2019 at 4:47 pm

Health center’s Albion complex named in honor of Karen Watt, with wellness center named for the late David Pike

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Oak Orchard Health this morning celebrated the opening of a new wellness center at 317 West Ave., a building that was the long-time site of an Off-Track Betting parlor.

Oak Orchard bought the property and spent about $500,000 in renovating the site, adding offices for two primary care rooms, two rooms for mental or behavioral health counseling, a group therapy room for music and massage therapy, a lab, and also offices for staff.

The wellness center is named in memory of David Pike, a physician’s assistant at Oak Orchard for 24 years. He passed away on April 6, 2013.

Pike’s grandchildren – Charlotte, left, and Lillian – are in front.  Others in the photo include, from left: Karen Watt, vice chair of the OOH board; Julia Hopkins, Chad Pike’s fiancé; Dr. Nancy Ciavarri, family physician and chief medical officer for OOH; Charlene Pike, David Pike’s wife; Chad Pike, David Pike’s son; Mary Ann Pettibon, Chief Executive Officer for OOH; Gary Skoog, chairman of the OOH board; Lorienda Smith (in back), OOH board member; Kathy Williams, OOH board member; and David Jewell, Ph. D., an OOH board member.

The new wellness center started serving patients about three weeks ago. There was an open house today as part of the grand opening.

The wellness center has primary care, behavioral health, and music and massage therapy. The new center will work closely with the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, with the two agencies referring patients. GCASA will do the initial addiction treatment while Oak Orchard will help patients maintain their health.

Oak Orchard Health unveiled a new sign in front of the Albion health center and the wellness center, naming the complex in honor of Karen Watt, an Albion fruit grower who has served on the Oak Orchard Health board for nearly 20 years, including many years as the board chairwoman.

During that time, Oak Orchard expanded the Albion health center and pushed to develop the wellness center. It also acquired Dr. David Bell’s former medical office in Lyndonville, and expanded with health care sites in Warsaw and Hornell. Oak Orchard has facilities in Brockport, and also runs a mobile dental unit that visits local school districts and is available to community members.

Mary Ann Pettibon (left), Chief Executive Officer for OOH, announces Oak Orchard’s Albion healthcare facilities will be named in honor of Karen Watt. Before joining the Oak Orchard board, Watt served as a president of the Orleans County Farm Bureau and was on the state board of directors for the New York Farm Bureau.

Watt also served as the chairwoman of the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health. In 2013, she received the Outstanding Migrant Health Center Board Member Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers.

Watt is also an advocate for breast cancer research and organized the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Orchard Walk at Watt Farms each fall from 2005-2017. For 11 years, the event raised over $350,000 for the American Cancer Society and in 2016-17 raised money for the local Genesee-Orleans Cancer Services Program.

Watt said she has enjoyed working the Oak Orchard staff and board members to expand services in Orleans County and in Oak Orchard’s other communities.

She said David Pike, the late physician’s assistant who was dedicated to the Oak Orchard patients, is far more deserving of recognition from Oak Orchard.

“David epitomizes wellness in our community,” Watt said. “He wanted to serve rural community healthcare. It really tugs at the heart strings because the need is so great.”

Charlene Pike and her son Chad Pike of Albion accept a plaque that recognizes the service of David Pike.

“He really enjoyed being a part of the community,” Chad said about his father. “We would go to the grocery store for what should have been a 5-minute trip and it would be over an hour and half because of all the people stopping him and thanking him.”

Charlotte and Lillian, David Pike’s grandchildren, check out some of the musical instruments in the music therapy room. This is the first of Oak Orchard’s six sites that offers music and massage therapy, as well as behavioral health treatment.

Gary Skoog, a Brockport farmer and OOH board chairman, said the organization is committed to serving Orleans County.

“We’re in continual growth mode at Oak Orchard,” Skoog said. “We’re trying to increase opportunities for wellness in Orleans County.”

Oak Orchard Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center and receives about 30 percent of its budget from the federal government. Oak Orchard started in 1966, initially focused on farmworkers’ health. The center has expanded since then and is available to the entire community.

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