QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Hudson Headwaters Health Network operates 21 community health centers, ranging from Saratoga County up into the Adirondacks. That means employing a lot of staff, many of whom carry the financial burden of student loans from medical school. This week, the network is helping some of them pay those debts in a way that they never have before.

Hudson Headwaters has awarded $1.7 million in assistance to 195 employees across its centers. Individual staff members were able to apply for as much as $10,500 in assistance, in exchange for a commitment to continuing to work at Hudson Headwaters for the next year. Of this year’s employees to get the help, 41 were able to totally eliminate the remainder of their student loan debt.

“As a recipient of student loan payment assistance from Hudson Headwaters, I am now officially student loan debt-free,” shared Hudson Headwaters Program Manager Charly Mallet. “I was already grateful to be an employee of the network, but this just confirms how great of a place it is to work and that the wellbeing of their employees is a priority. A weight has been lifted and now I can focus more on other milestones, such as saving for our upcoming wedding.”

Hudson Headwaters’ Tuition Retention Reimbursement CV-19 program acquired funds through an external grant to help employees pay off college debt. In a release, the network told the story of one employee, Plattsburgh Family Health nurse Tara Relation, who was able to cut her student loan debt in half. That led to a credit score and interest rate change that helped her family to buy a house.

“Hudson Headwaters is constantly looking to identify benefits that provide value to our employees,” said Hudson Headwaters Human Resource Vice President Sue Corney. “Because this grant could be used for employee retention purposes, we knew it was the perfect time to help address the anxiety that many staff had reported due to their student loan debt.”

Hudson Headwaters is also using grants in order to cover COVID-19 hazard pay as pandemic response continues to be part of reality at health centers. Hudson Headwaters has administered over 196,500 coronavirus tests and 34,000 vaccine doses across its locations.