Health center named for beloved doctor opens in Harrison

Dr. Stanley Siwek was the town doctor, police doctor, school doctor, firemen doctor. He took care of everybody in Harrison. Now a new (Federally Qualified) Health Center has opened in his name.

Its sponsor, North Hudson Community Action Corp. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday at the center’s location, 326 Harrison Ave.

“I was Dr. Siwek’s patient from 1953 to 2006,” says longtime Harrison resident Jack Pettigrew.

“He delivered myself, my brother Jimmy, my brother Artie, my sister Mary. He was my grandfather’s doctor, my uncle Francis’ doctor, my mother’s doctor and my father’s doctor,” Pettigrew says of the doc, who served the area for 70 years.

Even when things didn’t look promising for the center, freeholders stepped in and made it happen.

“Because really today with affordable healthcare, this community needs it,” Pettigrew says.

That sentiment was echoed across the board.

“It’s absolutely marvelous,” says Joan Quigley, NHCAC president & CEO. “We have needed healthcare in Harrison for much longer than three years. But it’s been three years since the mayor decided we would have it.”

Then tragedy struck.

“The mayor (Raymond McDonough) died, our representative died and we pulled it all together with Mayor (James) Fief and thank G-d for County Executive (Tom) DeGise, who came up with some extra money. Now we’re ready to go.”

The mayor says they have their share of poor people in Harrison and many who are uninsured.

“They’re always up in the office talking to us about it,” Fife says. “This will be a big addition to help them out. We’re also going to try to incorporate the senior citizens.”

Without this type of facility, the town would not be as good for people who live there.

“This is a really good agency that gets a lot done; people come here for help,” Senator Nick Sacco says. “And this entire area will benefit from having it and I’m very happy about it.”

The health center is the result of endless patience and persistence.

“Well before the Affordable Care Act was a reality, North Hudson has been doing its best to actualize that healthcare is a right and is accessible to everyone regardless of income or insurance status,” says Dr. Carmen Malamaci, North Hudson’s chief medical officer.

They worked tirelessly for funding but the other side would always try to cut it. Congressman Albio Sires says the problem was that many of them were never elected officials.

“They do not realize the kind of work that you do for the people of your town. This is a godsend for communities,” the congressman says.

About The Author

Jillian has a passion for news, giving voice to the voiceless and telling stories that make an impact. A New Jersey native, she spent the past two years as a multimedia journalist/one-man-band at WTAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she covered everything from meth busts to fracking to the homeless to a young man struck by lightening. She was her news director’s “go to health reporter” and also covered many education and political stories. She frequently interviewed the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, WV and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio. She interviewed OH Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Fitzgerald and OH Congressional Candidate Jennifer Garrison, as well as WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and WV Senator Joe Manchin. Jillian was a regular fixture at the local police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors’ offices and courthouses. Many looked forward to her ‘Mom of the Month’ series. Her story about two women who lost their children to heroin was widely recognized, along with her much loved piece on the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis band camp. In her free time... Jillian enjoys yoga, working out, live music, spending time with friends on both coasts and the Mid-Ohio Valley. She also loves to connect with the community, so feel free to say hi if you see her around, shoot her an e-mail... jrisberg@hctvnj.com or follow her @JillianRis .

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