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PinnacleHealth projects boost construction industry

Harrisburg-based firm leads efforts on new hospital, expansion of two additional medical facilities

Foundation construction on PinnacleHealth System's 200,000-square-foot, four-story West Shore hospital is expected to start in October, with occupancy slated by May 2014. Illustration/Submitted

While the stated goal is a fully integrated and more-efficient health care network, Harrisburg-based PinnacleHealth System’s $150 million, three-pronged building plan also promises short- and long-term economic impacts, said midstate construction professionals.

For starters, Harrisburg-based Quandel Construction Group Inc. anticipates at least 200 construction jobs will be needed to tackle the $100 million hospital it is building for the health system in Hampden Township.

“We look at the size of the job and how long it’s going to take and what manpower levels need to be to complete the project,” Bub Manning, the firm’s principal, said of the workforce projection.

Many of the jobs will be filled by current craftsman, but there also will be several openings for new workers, he said. While much of that added workforce is temporary for the specific job, that still has an impact on unemployment rates and the local tax base, he said.

Measuring local economic impact with large-scale construction projects is not easy. There are a number of different aspects to consider, said Chad Harvey, secretary of the board of directors for Harrisburg-based Mid Atlantic BX, a trade association that represents the construction industry.

“This project will create hundreds of construction jobs for regional contractors, subcontractors and suppliers during the life of the project,” he said, citing the short-term effects. “From a long-term perspective, larger construction jobs often lead to development in the surrounding area, which will then create more job opportunities in the future.”

Foundation construction on the 200,000-square-foot, four-story West Shore hospital is expected to start in October, with occupancy slated by May 2014. The 100-bed facility will be adjacent to the Fredricksen Outpatient Center in the Cumberland Technology Park near Interstate 81.

The hospital will provide services for acute medical and surgical care, cardiology, orthopedics, chronic diseases and transitional care, and will have an emergency department.

Quandel also will be the construction manager for the planned upgrades at Community General Osteopathic Hospital in Lower Paxton Township. That project will include the addition of three stories above the north and south nursing units for orthopedic private rooms and for medical and surgical uses.

Harrisburg-based Reynolds Construction Management Inc. will oversee construction on the third Pinnacle project, adding floors and renovating Harrisburg Hospital’s cardiac catheterization services, outpatient heart failure area, family lounge, electrophysiology labs and cardiothoracic intensive care unit.

It is not known how many construction jobs the two upgrade projects will create.

“Although there have been signs of improvement in the economy, it has been very difficult for the construction industry,” said Doug Dyer, a Pinnacle spokesman. “We feel (these projects) will be a tremendous boost for the local economy and construction industry.”

On May 22, Pinnacle announced the building projects as part of a five-year strategic plan — Vision 2017 — that was approved by its board of directors. They will be financed through borrowing and reserve funds, the health system said.

Health system officials had been considering these projects for about eight months, Dyer said. Capacity issues at the existing East Shore campuses and growing West Shore admissions were cited by Pinnacle as factors to move on the plan now.

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

“It’s critical to create a coordinated care network. That’s where the future of health care needs to go,” Dyer said.

Pinnacle’s strategic plan will create about 400 permanent jobs, he said.

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