Two health care networks continues to make strides in their quests to build state-of-the-art hospitals in Carbon County.
Meanwhile, several communities saw urgent cares and labs sprout up at a feverish rate to ensure people who live in the area can stay local for their health care needs.
St. Luke’s – Carbon
It’s that type of affordable health care close to home that ties in with the vision of St. Luke’s University Health Network, according to John Nespoli, president of St. Luke’s – Carbon Campus.
“We think we are developing a recognized model of excellence for rural health care delivery,” Nespoli said. “The next couple of years, it will be hard to find this type of health network in a rural community; we’re making great progress.”
The $80 million campus will be located on more than 100 acres at the intersection of Fairyland and Harrity roads.
Once completed, the hospital will provide area residents local access to a range of specialty services in a full-service, three-story, 155,000-square-foot hospital.
Built with American steel, the St. Luke’s Carbon Campus will be equipped with 80 beds, 20 emergency department exam rooms, three operating rooms and two OR procedure rooms. Specialty services will include trauma, cardiology, neurology and radiology, among others.
It will also eventually house a new cancer facility and women’s health center.
Nespoli said the hospital is basically an enclosed structure right now, and added they are working on the inside.
“The goal is to have it open in the early part of 2022; it is on schedule and on budget,” he said. “Things are really going well in the new construction of the hospital.”
Nespoli said the hope is it will have in-house critical care; and a very modern emergency department with expansion capability.
“Currently, we have 14 ER rooms at the old Lehighton campus; we can go to 29 at new hospital,” he said. “We’re going to open with about 17 rooms, and I think we’ll expand that to 29.”
But wait, there’s more, according to Nespoli.
“We will have walking trails, healing gardens, and also have some organic farming at this site too,” he said. “I think it’s going to be quite the destination place, I really do.”
Those who passed through Palmerton’s main thoroughfare have surely noticed quite a change in recent months.
There, Nespoli said St. Luke’s is in the process of building a medical mall on Delaware Avenue.
It features offices for four family practitioners and a Care Now.
Located right across the parking lot will be a specialty center that will have medical/surgical, OB-GYN services, urology, pulmonary, nephrology, medical wave management, diabetes care and vascular care all in the same building. That will open in late January.
Since 2021 will be the year they finish the medical mall in Palmerton, as well as the new hospital in Franklin, Nespoli said their attention will shift to the old Palmerton Hospital Campus in 2022.
“We still believe that one possible use is to develop housing for older adults on 8 acres of land there,” he said. “We did do an assessment of need, and it did show there is a need for affordable senior housing; 2022 will be probably the year that we take that on.”
Not to get lost in the shuffle, Nespoli said, are the gains that were made at the Lehighton campus this year.
“We did a lot of renovations and beautification of the building,” he said.
Nespoli said the hospital has all new public floors; public lighting; upgrades of the medical surge unit, inpatient rehab unit; started a new cancer infusion center with six chairs – which will eventually move to the new hospital – upgrades to the behavioral health units; expanded the Emergency Room Department to 14 (beds); started a new women’s imaging service; and started a new vascular center – which will also move to the new hospital.
“This campus is going to remain very, very important to us long-term,” he said. “We are also forecasting in 2022, as we start to work on the Palmerton Hospital Campus, we will have moved med surge services from Lehighton to Franklin, we will have space for development (at Lehighton).”
Nespoli said the goal is to have an outpatient behavioral health center, partial hospitalization behavioral health, and be opening a walk-in center for behavioral health.
He said they also plan to keep The Summit; eventually would like to do a dual diagnosis unit at the Lehighton campus; and will continue to have inpatient acute stay in Lehighton.
“Lehighton, we’re just as excited about the future of Lehighton as we are about the medical mall in Palmerton and a new hospital in Franklin,” he said. “We’re just really happy for Carbon County; to me, the future is really bright in Carbon County.”
But just a few miles away, Lehigh Valley Health Network officials last week held a virtual groundbreaking for its new hospital slated to open in the spring of 2022 in Mahoning Township.
Lehigh Valley Hospital-Carbon will be built on land catty-cornered to the Walmart Superstore on Blakeslee Boulevard.
It will cover over 100,000-square-feet and feature 18 private inpatient beds, a 12-bay emergency department, two operating rooms, two procedure rooms and four observation rooms with plans to expand in the future.
The hospital will also have a helipad to transport critical patients as needed, while a medical office building is also planned as part of the project.
It will also feature telemedicine services from Lehigh Valley Heart Institute, Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute and Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence.
Dr. Brian A. Nester, president and chief executive officer of LVHN, said the hospital would support about 150 new jobs when it opens.
Services at the hospital will include inpatient care, inpatient and outpatient surgery, rehabilitation, diagnostic cardiology, radiology, an infusion center and 24/7 emergency care.
Terry Purcell will serve as president of the new hospital. Purcell joined LVHN in September 2018 after previously serving as president with St. Luke’s University Health Network and at the former Blue Mountain Health System for 12 years where his last role was senior vice president of operations.