Five years after it began construction on its newest hospital – The Anderson Campus in Bethlehem Township – St. Luke’s University Health Network is breaking ground once more.
This time, it will build an $80 million hospital in Monroe County that could bring with it hundreds of jobs along with a new major health care facility for Pocono residents.
Officials marked a groundbreaking ceremony this afternoon for the hospital that would be the network’s seventh and its first in Monroe County. It also is the first new hospital to be constructed in the county in 100 years.
“We will provide world-class health care to this community,” said Richard A. Anderson, president and CEO of St. Luke’s.
Headquartered in Fountain Hill, St. Luke’s issued $75 million in bonds through the Pocono Mountains Industrial Park Authority to finance the hospital in Stroud Township, which is expected to open by the end of 2016.
The campus will sit on a 41-acre parcel along Route 611 at the Bartonsville exit of Interstate 80.
St. Luke’s will have at least six significant facilities in Monroe County, not including this one. These smaller Monroe facilities, which include physician practices, have existed with St. Luke’s for about 20 years, and the network employs about 35 to 40 physicians and advanced practitioners in the county.
“St. Luke’s promises the residents of Monroe County that we will do our best to create an exceptional health care experience for you,” Anderson said. “We are already working closely with a large number of physicians in Monroe County that either work for St. Luke’s or have partnered with us. In fact, it was these physicians that first asked us to build the hospital we are now breaking ground for.”
Once complete, the Monroe Campus will mirror the look and feel of the Anderson Campus, he added.
The primary hospital in Monroe County is Pocono Medical Center, part of Pocono Health System, in East Stroudsburg.
Pocono Medical Center has more than 200 physicians and 1,850 employees and earlier this year hosted a grand opening of its West End Healthcare Center in Brodheadsville in the county.
PMC plans to build a second hospital campus, Pocono Medical Center West, on 40 acres in Tannersville.
At St. Luke’s Monroe Campus, the network will create more than 350 permanent positions once it opens, with job growth expected, Anderson said.
As an example, when St. Luke’s Anderson Campus opened, it had a similar amount of full-time jobs; now it has about 650.
The campus will have 108 beds and room for growth, with potential for additional buildings.
Total construction costs should be about $80 million, which covers the cost of furniture and equipment. About $45 million is for construction of the building.
The first phase for the construction is the hospital; other buildings are planned as placeholders so the campus has a logical place for which to grow.
Dr. Peter Favini said the emergency room can treat 60,000 patients a year. He is vice chairman of network emergency services.
He has had a practice in Monroe County for 25 years and will return to direct the care at the new hospital. He had moved to the Anderson Campus in 2013.
“It’s a homecoming, but in a lot of ways I never left,” Favini said.
In 2011, the Anderson Campus opened with a hospital, medical office building and cancer center. Shortly afterward, it outgrew its emergency department and had to double the space.
At the Monroe Campus, plans call for two medical office buildings and a building for the hospital to accommodate expansion.
The 180,000-square-foot hospital will have four floors, with the emergency department and outpatient rooms on the first floor, with the top three floors for patients. The fourth floor will be unfinished.
St. Luke’s is expecting to develop only half of the 41-acre site and add walking trails. Wigwam Creek goes through the site.
St. Luke’s also is financing several road infrastructure improvements around the site on Route 611, including replacing a bridge, adding a lane and installing a traffic light at the entrance.