Plans for expanding Penn State Children’s Hospital in Derry Township won approval this week with construction set to begin in April.
The hospital’s board of trustees formally approved a $148.1 million plan to add three floors to the five-story facility. Construction is expected to wrap up by 2020.
The expansion project calls for adding an 18-bed acute care facility as well as new delivery rooms, post-partum treatment rooms,and a neonatal intensive care unit. In addition to three new floors, the plan includes renovating 14,000 square feet on the existing fifth floor of the building to add 14 new pediatric care rooms.
The plan overall adds 126,000 square feet to the existing structure, which is 263,000 square feet. In its present state, Children’s Hospital has 72 private pediatric care rooms including 18 rooms each for oncological care, intensive care, intermediate care and acute care.
Finished in 2012, the Children’s Hospital was designed with a vertical expansion in mind by architects at Payette Associates, a Boston-based firm. The firm has been reenlisted by the board of trustees for the expansion.
The expansion of the Children’s Hospital will allow Penn State Health – the parent company of the hospital – to relocate services formerly housed in Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
The medical center is notoriously overcrowded. Penn State Health cited it as an argument in favor of its proposed 2016 merger with PinnacleHealth, which was ultimately blocked. During testimony in federal court, a former chief nursing officer noted the hospital frequently saw occupancy rates of 89 percent, and occasionally as high as 112 percent. A common goal for hospital occupancy is 85 percent.
Moving the neonatal intensive care unit from the medical center into the new floors of the Children’s Hospital will provide space for 100 new beds in the 551-bed Medical Center, Penn State Health CEO Dr. Craig Hillemeier told the Business Journal last April.