WellSpan details new expansion to York hospital

Ioannis Pashakis//February 18, 2020

WellSpan details new expansion to York hospital

Ioannis Pashakis//February 18, 2020

Roxanna Gapstur, president and CEO of WellSpan Health, announces the system’s new expansion to its York Hospital. PHOTO/IOANNIS PASHAKIS

WellSpan’s newly announced expansion to its York hospital will include more than 500 new employees and is expected to alleviate a capacity issue at the facility.

Last week, the York-based hospital system said it would be expanding its services with an eight-story surgical and critical care tower projected to cost approximately $255 million.

WellSpan currently employs some 10,000 people in York County, with more than half working at WellSpan York Hospital alone. The new tower is expected to take five years to complete and would increase the hospital’s number of nurses, nursing aids, physicians and respiratory, physical and occupational therapists by more than 500.

WellSpan’s project is part of a wave of health care expansions in the midstate that include additions to existing hospitals and new facilities. UPMC Pinnacle West Shore in Hampden Township, Cumberland County; and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and its children’s hospital in Derry Township, Dauphin County, are also growing. Penn State Health’s plans include two new hospitals in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, and Hampden Township, Cumberland County.

WellSpan’s new tower will be built on the south end of the campus by 2025 and will be joined to the hospital’s Century Tower. As part of the project, WellSpan will demolish the Marie Ketterman Building and South Hall, two facilities standing at the space.

The current buildings are home to a number of specialty and outpatient services as well as a family practice residency training center and dental clinic. The hospital’s specialty services will be relocated to different sites on and off campus.

On the outpatient end, John Porter, executive vice president and COO of WellSpan, said that the system will be moving procedures to multiple sites in the community, such as WellSpan’s Apple Hill Surgical Center. Moving some of these services out of the hospital will allow the system to grow its inpatient services within the additional space of the 248,000-square-foot expansion, Porter said.

When the tower is complete, the system plans to move its critical care services out of the Century Tower and into the new building along with added intensive care unit beds, larger surgical suites and new anesthesia and pre-post-operative care areas.

In recent years, WellSpan York Hospital has consistently operated near capacity, something that Porter said would be alleviated by an expansion to the ICU and the movement of outpatient services out of the hospital.

“We thought (operating near capacity) was temporary and we’ve done things to try to alleviate it, but it has not been effective,” he said. “We’ve continued to face the situation where we are pretty much at capacity most of the time and so we recognize that we will need an expansion.”

The expansion will increase the hospital’s ICU bed count from 60 to 96, bringing its overall beds to more than 600. The tower will also have spaces for family wishing to stay with the patient during their stay in critical care.

The tower’s new surgical suites will be large enough to make room for robotic surgical and advanced medical technology already used in some of the hospital’s operating rooms.

WellSpan York Hospital currently makes up more than half of the county’s hospital visits, and contributed $2 billion to York County’s local economy in 2019, said Dr. Roxanna Gapstur, president and CEO of WellSpan Health, adding that the system plans to continue to invest in the county with the new expansion.

“As a board and leadership team we understand the impact that WellSpan has on the York community and the significance of this investment,” Gapstur said. “We are grateful for the trust our community has placed in WellSpan York Hospital.”

WellSpan has yet to seek approval for the zoning of the expansion, which the system will need to request from both York city as well as Spring Garden Township.

While the tower is planned to be eight-stories tall, WellSpan said it does not expect to need additional zoning approval on its height because the building will be at a lower elevation than Century Tower.

The system has yet to announce who will be working on either the design or the construction of the expansion.

A detailed look at the many projects under construction by area hospital systems is located at this story’s companion piece: Here’s where midstate hospital systems are expanding.