After a nearly two-year delay due to the pandemic, WellSpan York Hospital ceremoniously began demolition of outdated buildings to make way for a state-of-the-art expansion Thursday.
The hospital plans to start bringing down South Hall, built in 1970, and the Marie Kettering building, built in 1949, next week from the inside out to make way for a new eight-story surgical and critical care tower to meet the growing needs of the community, said Vicky Diamond, senior vice president of WellSpan’s Central Region and president of WellSpan York Hospital.
During a ceremony for hospital staff, builders and designers, and local dignitaries, Diamond said designs for the surgical suites and critical care facilities are almost complete and the hospital-based health care system hopes to start construction later this year. The project is expected to take about two-and-a-half years at a cost of about $255 million.
The expansion is expected to add 500 nurses, nursing aids, physicians and respiratory, physical and occupational therapists to the health care system’s 10,000 York County employees, more than half of whom work at the hospital, Diamond said.
The new facility will have large surgical suites with state-of-the-art robotic capabilities, large pre- and post-operative care rooms, and intensive care suites large enough for family to stay on site.
Diamond said the tower will also house a women’s center with labor and delivery rooms large enough to accommodate patients through the whole birthing process in one room. A neonatal intensive care unit will also be housed in the new almost 250,000-square-foot facility.
“We will have more information in a few weeks,” including renderings of the space, Diamond told the gathering on the roof of the employee parking facility which faces the two buildings that are being torn down. “We expect this to take two-and-a-half years to complete, opening in 2025,” she said.
The more than 300 team members housed in the Marie Kettering building are in the process of relocating. South Hall, a corner of which was knocked down for the ceremony, is already vacant.
Even with the delays from the pandemic and supply issues, the project is targeted for the original completion date.
“We are at the midpoint of the project, and I can’t thank you all enough for your support, especially the board,” she said. “The next two-and-a-half years are going to be fun.”
Dr. James Harvey, vice president and chief medical officer, Heart & Vascular service line, WellSpan, said the project has special meaning to him. “We’ve changed so much. This is like what we saw in Star Trek and now we will have it.”
Harvey spoke to the importance of the enlarged space allowing for family members to be with the patients throughout their stay. “When people are in the critical care unit, they need family. We’ve learned that social and psychological issues are as important as the medical,” he said.
The expansion, he said, “means we will not be prisoners of the present and we can plan for the future now.”
Not only will patients get improved care, but Harvey said the facility will attract providers to York as well. “This will be a preferred place for providers to work,” he said.
Dr. Roxanna Gapstur, president and CEO, WellSpan Health, said the new tower is “pioneering.”
“This supports our vision as a Gold LEED Certified facility to add green space, sustainable energy, a healing environment and a healthy environment for our team,” she said.