Shifting demographics are a major factor in healthcare systems’ expansion and new construction decisions, and for one system, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the changing needs of its community.
St. Luke’s University Health Network in Allentown, Pa. will add a 175,000-square-foot patient care tower to its Monroe Campus, according to The Morning Call. The $85 million, four-story addition, which is expected to open in early 2024, will double the size of the existing hospital. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2022. The announcement of the expansion comes about five years after St. Luke’s opened the hospital.
Travel time has been significantly cut down for patients in Monroe County since the Monroe Campus opened. The campus has been in high demand since then. From fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2021 admissions and observations at the Monroe Campus increased 151 percent, and emergency visits increased 61 percent.
When the first wave of the pandemic hit, the Monroe Campus was among the first hospitals in Pennsylvania that felt the impact. The expansion was needed before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic further highlighted that need.
The project is expected to employ 250 construction workers. St. Luke’s estimates that 80 new permanent jobs will be created with the patient care tower initially, but further development is planned that would result in more job creation.
The construction of the project is not expected to have any negative impact on patient care at the existing hospital building. He added that because more parking space will be added to the campus early on in the construction process, patient care may actually be improved in some ways.