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Penn State Health makes another big move in Lancaster County

Heather Stauffer, Staff Writer, Lacaster Online

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Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center wants a bigger slice of Lancaster County’s health care business.

The Dauphin County-based nonprofit started October by acquiring what had been the county’s largest independent doctor group, and ended the month by announcing Monday that it will build its first large facility in Lancaster County.

The two-story, 76,000-square-foot outpatient center is scheduled to open early in 2019 at the Lime Spring Square shopping center along Noll Drive and Rohrerstown Road in East Hempfield Township.

It will have space for up to 45 primary care doctors and specialists, as well as lab, imaging and therapy services.

Dr. A. Craig Hillemeier, whose titles include CEO of Penn State Health, said the center will help achieve a long-term goal of “ensuring that patients across central Pennsylvania are within 10 minutes of our primary care providers and 20 minutes of a specialty care provider.”

Penn State Health also said the center will have a nontraditional design similar to that used at its new Mechanicsburg location.

The design allows an entire visit from check-in to check-out to occur in the same room, according to Penn State Health, and incorporates a real-time location system with ceiling sensors, personal badges and mapping software “to manage the location of providers, staff and patients” and reduce patient wait time.

Penn State Health did not immediately respond to questions about the project’s cost Monday.

Other plans

Hershey Medical Center has long been running near or at capacity, and in the last year Penn State Health has been considering several projects at the hospital and elsewhere on its main Hershey campus.

Last month, its board approved a $29.2 million renovation and expansion of the emergency department, to be completed by spring 2019.

Lots of change

Multiple mergers have changed the region’s health care landscape quickly, leaving Penn State Health and York-based WellSpan Health as the only local health systems not allied with larger partners.

The latest change came from the former PinnacleHealth System in Dauphin County, with which Penn State Health attempted a merger last year; they abandoned it after an escalating legal challenge from regulators.

PinnacleHealth bought several area hospitals including two in Lancaster this summer, then in September it became part of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and changed its name to UPMC Pinnacle.

The other big system in the region is Penn Medicine, which Lancaster General Health joined in 2015.

Additionally, Lancaster-based venture capital firm AspireVentures is building a 144,000-square-foot “microhospital” dubbed Clio Health Lancaster on the northern edge of Lancaster city to, in its words, “transform the brick-and-mortar health experience through the introduction of technology.”

Aspire previously said the $45 million project would launch in spring 2018, but CEO Sam Abadir said via email Monday that it probably wouldn’t open that early, due to “significant interest” in the Clio technology “from large innovative national brands.”

“We’re obviously anxious to open Clio but we are taking the attitude that investing a little more time now may have a substantial long-term benefit,” he wrote.