Expansions to Lancaster General considered

Ioannis Pashakis//April 22, 2019

Expansions to Lancaster General considered

Ioannis Pashakis//April 22, 2019

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health is looking into a number of expansions for Lancaster General Health. (Photo: Submitted)

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health is looking at three possible expansions to Lancaster General Hospital that together would be the largest expansion in the Duke Street hospital’s history.

The hospital system’s Board of Trustees expects to make a decision next month if it will pursue the preliminary plans to double the hospital’s emergency department, update its food services and create a tower with private patient rooms.

The hospital is facing increasing rates of patient visits. In 2018, the Lancaster City hospital’s emergency department saw nearly 118,000 visits – 28,000 people over its capacity of 90,000. Lancaster General is now the last acute care hospital in the city with the closing of UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster this year, so the system expects those number to continue to increase.

“We’ve made great strides over the past five years enhancing access to our care while guiding people to the optimal settings for their medical needs, such as our urgent care center or outpatient facilities,” Jan Bergen, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health President and CEO said in a press release. “Increasing demand, population growth and changes in the local provider landscape require a thoughtful expansion of Lancaster General Hospital.”

The project is still in its early phases and could change drastically as it moves through municipal review and the Board of Trustees. If the project is approved in its current form, construction could begin as early as winter 2020.

The first phase of the project would move the current food service department from the ground floor of the hospital to an announced new location. The new dining room and kitchen area is expected to offer a wider selection of foods with more of an emphasis on spaces in the dining area to sit and relax.

With the food service department moved from its location on the ground floor, the project calls for an additional 41 treatment bays in the emergency department. The expansion into the emergency department would add a permanent addition of 32,550 square feet to the existing 38,660-square-foot department for a total of 71,200 square feet.

To hold over until a permanent fix is found, the hospital is preparing a nine-treatment-bay temporary addition to its emergency department to be ready this June. The temporary fix will give the 54-bay emergency room a boost in beds as it deals with increasing trauma cases in a department that was last renovated in 2003.

After the expansion would be completed, the hospital would then renovate the original emergency department bays to the specifications of the new ones.

According to Penn Medicine, the cost of the expansions to both the dining area and the emergency department is estimated at around $115 million.

The final expansion is an inpatient tower that would increase the hospital’s current bed count of 537, while also allowing it to get rid of its oldest and smallest rooms which don’t hold up to current standards of larger single-patient rooms with space for family and added privacy.

“With so many resources devoted to building the new emergency department, kitchen and dining areas, it’s prudent to think about the efficiency of also replacing nursing units that have served us well for decades,” Bergen said. “By acting today, we could avoid returning in future years with another major and disruptive construction project.”

The patient tower at Duke Street does not yet have an expected cost, according to Penn Medicine. The entire project is expected to take up to three years to complete if it is approved.