Coordinated Health, a health network based in South Whitehall Township, plans to build a 24-bed hospital in Dickson City, near Scranton, becoming the first in the small borough’s history.
In 2014, the area lost an inpatient hospital with an emergency room after Mid-Valley Hospital in nearby Peckville became an outpatient center.
Coordinated plans to build a 78,000-square-foot hospital with an emergency room at 334 Main St., next to Coordinated Health Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists, a 12-physician practice that Coordinated acquired last year.
The 36,000-square-foot medical office building where the orthopedists and 120 employees work would undergo a renovation and become an extension of the hospital, said Florence Brown, spokeswoman for Coordinated Health.
The new hospital would span two to three floors, have eight operating rooms, an emergency room and offer several medical specialties, including orthopedics. North Star Construction Management will design the building.
The estimated cost of the hospital and renovation was still being determined, Brown said.
Officials hope to start construction on the hospital this year or next, pending regulatory approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, with a projected opening in 2020.
The new hospital could employ 200 to 300 workers, said Amy Nyberg, president and chief operating officer for Coordinated Health.
“Our model and our mission is to develop more accessible, smaller campuses that can be geographically distributed, and Dickson City is the perfect location for such a campus,” Nyberg said.
“It’s much more accessible for the population in the Mid Valley area of Scranton and north of Scranton.”
Nyberg said the new hospital will initially offer orthopedics.
She said having a new hospital with an ER would reduce congestion in other emergency rooms in a location that is more accessible for that population. And although it will not be a level 1 trauma care center, it could handle patients suffering from significant fractures or injuries who would be treated by an orthopedic surgeon.
By having its own hospital, Coordinated can “enhance coordination of care, help reduce costs and unnecessary admissions,” Nyberg said.
Part of Coordinated’s strategy is expanding in an area of the state with an older population compared to other parts. The number of people 65 and older in northeast Pennsylvania is expected to grow the next five to 10 years, and with that will come an expected need for more medical care.
“We’re close to 20 percent today of the population [in northeast Pennsylvania] that is 65-plus, and it will exceed 20 percent in the next five years,” Nyberg said.
“Your demand for health care increases every five years beginning at age 50. Between 50 and 55 your demand doubles and between 55 and 60 it doubles again and throughout the rest of life. The amount of health care people require increases exponentially, and that applies to all medical specialties, except pediatrics and obstetrics.”
With 1,400 employees, Coordinated Health, is the smallest of the region’s health networks but, like the others, is growing.
Coordinated has been expanding into northeastern Pennsylvania, particularly in the Scranton/Hazleton area and in western New Jersey. It has two medical centers under construction: one at Humboldt Station, an industrial park in Hazleton, and a surgical center in Phillipsburg, N.J., which is expected to open in the fall.
State Rep. Sid Kavulich, who represents the Dickson City area, said Coordinated’s new hospital will fill a need in northeastern Pennsylvania.