Local chambers welcome news of PinnacleHealth's new hospital

By - Last modified: May 22, 2012 at 9:39 AM

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PinnacleHealth System will build a hospital on the West Shore and add on to Harrisburg Hospital and Community General Osteopathic Hospital.

The building projects are part of the health system's strategic plan approved by the board Monday night.

The five-year plan's construction projects are:

• Building a hospital in Hampden Township, Cumberland County, adjacent to the Fredricksen Outpatient Center, with services for acute medical and surgical care, cardiology, orthopedics, chronic diseases, transitional care and an emergency department.

• Upgrading Community General in Lower Paxton Township by adding three stories above the north and south nursing units for orthopedic private rooms, and medical and surgical uses.

• Adding floors and renovating Harrisburg Hospital's cardiac catheterization services, outpatient heart failure area, family lounge, electrophysiology labs and cardiothoracic intensive care unit.

The plan will go into effect immediately, with construction at all three campuses ongoing, according to a news release. All three projects will cost more than $150 million total. The new hospital will be financed via both borrowing and reserve funds, Pinnacle said.

The $100 million West Shore hospital is scheduled to begin moving utilities next week in preparation for groundbreaking, CEO and President Michael A. Young said. Facility construction will begin around the end of the year, and completion should be in June 2014, he said. The hospital will have 100 beds and be about 200,000 square feet on four floors, Pinnacle said.

The strategic plan will create about 400 permanent jobs in the next five years, according to the release. About 125 construction jobs will be produced because of the three projects, Young said.

A local developer will work on the new hospital, though the name is not being released yet, Pinnacle said.

The cost of building a hospital in Cumberland County is about half of what the cost would be to expand or build at or near Pinnacle's existing hospitals, Young said.

The expansion is a response to the demand for services, projected population growth and aging in the three-county area Pinnacle covers: Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry, as well as part of York County.

The plan is part of Pinnacle's goal for better integration of services to enhance clinical quality, become more efficient and reduce the cost of health care, the release states.

As a part improved coordination of care, Pinnacle recently acquired Tristán Associates, an imaging services company, and Heritage Medical Group, and it expanded its oncology services.

"Our strategic plan meets the vital needs of our growing community. We have listened to feedback and are now expanding our services so that we can more efficiently and effectively provide care at our current two acute care facilities as well as the new hospital," Young said.

The Hampden Township location was chosen because the other two Pinnacle hospitals are nearing capacity, the health system already owned land at the site and the community has voiced the need for a Pinnacle hospital on the West Shore, according to the release. The inpatient needs of the West Shore also are projected to increase in the next five years, Chief Financial Officer William H. Pugh said. The hospital's presence also will bring Pinnacle's charitable outreach to another community.

The third hospital will increase proximity for Pinnacle's patients to 10 minutes for a primary care physician, 20 minutes to get to an outpatient facility and 30 minutes to reach a hospital, the health system said. As a part of its strategy, about 90 percent of hospital patient rooms will be private, Young said. Physician recruitment will also be part of Pinnacle's focus in the next five years, he said.

"A lot of people look at a health care system as an episodic experience, but the board is looking at it more as how we deliver to the community the best combination of value, quality and accessibility for the community," Board Chairman Robert L. Lyon said.

Reaction

The hospital will be a welcome addition to Hampden Township for a number of reasons, township commissioner Al Bienstock said.

Pinnacle is a "very high-quality organization" and will be a good corporate neighbor, he said

"From an economic standpoint, it'll bring jobs to the township, which are always welcome," he said.

The land already is zoned for Pinnacle's use, township commissioner John V. Thomas said.

There will be discussion about the particular services the hospital will provide for the area and the support it might need in return, such as police or ambulance, he said.

The convenience of the location off of Route 81 will be good for both Pinnacle and the community, Thomas said.

Pinnacle's plan is "probably a good move on their part," he said.

Any time a company invests this much in a region, it's a good thing, said David Black, president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp.

The aging and growing population of the area will be in need of health care even more in the future, he said.

"At the end of the day, when you have (health care) facilities that can handle the population better, it leads to a better quality of life in the region. We're pretty happy about this," he said.

The impact on jobs, both immediate with the construction projects and longer-term with the health care positions available, is "just wonderful" for the area, said Kathleen Mangan, president and CEO of the West Shore Chamber of Commerce.

"In addition to having more health care options easily accessible to the population on theWestShore, (Pinnacle's new hospital) will be an asset to the community, and make it even more appealing to residents as a place to work and live," she said.

The health care industry is making resources available to meet the needs of an aging population, and we should be grateful to have access to them, she said.

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