The first patients served at Lancaster County’s brand new 132-bed, $ 375 million hospital will be welcomed on October 3, according to Penn State Health.
So far, the opening of Penn State Health Lancaster Medical Center in East Hempfield Township had only been described as this fall. Work on the structure was completed about a month ago.
Now workers are installing furniture and equipment, setting up and testing sophisticated diagnostic machines, and preparing a wide range of rooms for the exams, surgeries, consultations and births that will take place in the 341,000-square-foot six-story hospital in State. Road and Harrisburg Pike just east of Landisville.
At the same time, the more than 400 employees who will work at the hospital starting day of opening are oriented to the facility and planned workflow, trained in Penn State Health’s culture and practice, and perform general rehearsals for a broad variety of scenarios such as what to do in the event of a medical emergency in the parking lot or how to handle a child delivered outside the main entrance.
“It is much more than just orientation; is learning the building, ”said Clair Mooney, the hospital’s chief operating officer who led LNP | LancasterOnline on a tour of the building last week.
Mooney is responsible for assembling and training the hospital’s staff, he said it will eventually grow to around 1,000 as services are expanded after the hospital is operational. “At the end of the day, people are going to make the process work,” she said.
Mooney said the commitment to having staff members focused on patient care complements the hospital’s physical design, which prioritizes visitor ease and convenience. These include little touches like QR codes on orientation signs to help orient visitors and waiting areas which include places to work on a laptop.
“It’s meeting people where they are with a lot of design,” Mooney said.
Joe Frank, President of the Eastern Region for Penn State Health, says the new Lancaster Medical Center is meant to complement, but not replace, Hershey Medical Center, relieving some of the pressure from that hospital while offering a comfortable location for growth and aging – population in Lancaster County.
“It scales the system properly in a very smart and efficient way,” said Frank. “It gives (Hershey Medical Center) more capacity for the critically ill while we are able to be more affordable here by providing that standard Hershey but we do it in this type of environment.”
Growing from day 1
The new Lancaster Medical Center is the centerpiece of Penn State Health’s ambitious strategy to carve out a larger share of the Lancaster County healthcare market, long dominated by Penn State Lancaster General Health, the county’s largest employer.
Penn State Health made its first splash here in 2017 by purchasing the county’s largest independent medical group, Physicians’ Alliance Ltd., and then in 2019 opened the Lime Spring Outpatient Center off Rohrerstown Road. Last June, the health system opened the Penn State Health Children’s Pediatric Center at a former Toys’ R Us in Harrisburg Pike and Route 30.
At Lancaster Medical Center, Penn State Health is spending $ 375 million to develop a new hospital that will offer primary, specialist and acute care, including advanced care and clinical trials offered at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the academic hub of the sanitary system.
Hospital services will include cardiac catheterization, heart surgery, general surgery, and labor and delivery. There will also be an emergency room, as well as imaging services and outpatient services offered at doctors’ offices in an attached medical building. A helipad on top of the six-story building will be a new landing point for helicopters operated by Life Lion, Penn State Health’s critical care service.
When it opens in October, Lancaster Medical Center will have full, operational emergency departments and hospital services, but will not open with the full range of services that will eventually be offered, such as heart surgery.
“We’re not going to do it all day one because you really can’t,” Frank said. “Supporting something like this is a huge project, so we’re on that broad road to get there.”
Frank said he expects the full range of services to be offered within a year of opening, but stressed that the goal will be to implement things when they are ready and when the staff are fully trained.
“The great doctors are a fact, this is what we do at Hershey. We are a medical school and we train very talented people, “said Frank.” But what we’re driven to do is make this culture centered around nursing here. This is a hospital run by nurses for other nurses. If we do that. well … for us it will be one of the differentiating factors “.