In these unprecedented times, it would be easy to focus a health care issue of Strictly Business on the effects of COVID, but we’ve chosen a different path. In this issue you will find stories about established North Country care providers that are here—and have been—taking care of us day in and day out.

Our cover article features Elizabeth Pearl, a Plattsburgh native who turned a teenage frustration into a thriving career. Her physical therapy practice, located in the south end of the city of Plattsburgh, not only offers valued services but is committed to training future professionals.

The absence of health care for rural areas brought Dr. John Rugge to Chestertown, New York in 1974. The small clinic he opened eventually paved the way the formation of Hudson Headwaters Health Network which today covers 7,200 square miles, serves over 100,000 patients, provides over 24 services, and employs over 900 people.

Ask businesses to name their most pressing problem right now and most will tell you “Finding employees!” More than 15 years ago Meadowbrook Healthcare adopted a proactive approach to employee recruitment and training and it has paid off. Their commitment—to care for their caregivers— has created a win-win.

Mountain Orthotics & Prosthetics, with offices in Plattsburgh, Lake Placid and Malone, is filling a special need and finding innovative, new ways to use technology to benefit patients in our area and places as far-away as Ecuador, Haiti and Nepal. Their skill and upbeat, can-do attitude make a difference to people facing life changing illnesses or injuries.

When we talk about health care it is important that we view mental health services as a critical component. Dr. Dino Santoro and the staff at North Country Behavioral Medicine are committed to addressing what has been a long-neglected population in our area. We applaud their dedication to their patients and their effort to eliminate the stigma often associated with mental health issues.

For someone with a substance abuse problem the biggest hurdle is often not rehab, but what come after that. Going back to the same places and people can be a recipe for relapse. To address that problem our area is fortunate to have the Mary DeVeau House, a place where women who have achieved thirty days of sobriety can begin to reassemble their lives in a healthy way.

And then there is our Insight article this month that features Bill Meyers, the Market Area Manager for Casella Waste Management. Bill is a man who has taken on leadership roles for Casella and a variety of local organizations. His warmth, humility and commitment to helping others navigate their careers makes him a North Country treasure.

Colin Read offers his overview of the COVID crisis, the people who help get us through it and our “new normal” future. Wrapping up this issue is Garry Douglas who outlines new financial aid designed to help small businesses.

The last 16 months has been like no other we have experienced. It has caused all of us to re-evaluate how we do business. Has our customer base changed? Where do we find the employees we need? How strong is our supply chain? These and other issues pose challenges we are working through, but it is encouraging that, thanks to vaccines and the help and support of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, there is light at the end of the tunnel…

…and that’s good for business.