Acquisitions made in the past year and plans for a new hospital are expanding PinnacleHealth's reach into Cumberland and Perry counties.
PinnacleHealth already has an established presence in Cumberland County with its Fredricksen Outpatient Center and the Cumberland Campus off of Technology Parkway in Hampden Township, but much of the health system’s development and work have been on the East Shore.
Harrisburg Hospital is known as its main acute care facility, and the health system also put plenty of money into its Community Campus in Lower Paxton Township, which now holds the Community General Osteopathic Hospital, PinnacleHealth-Fox Chase Regional Cancer Center, an imaging center and the Bloom Outpatient Center.
PinnacleHealth’s "Vision 2017," which was announced Tuesday, includes quite a bit more work on each of those East Shore campuses, but it also solidified PinnacleHealth’s interest in Cumberland County with the development of a hospital at its Cumberland Campus.
"We’ve been talking about this for about eight months," said PinnacleHealth CEO Michael Young. "We’ve been able to work with a local developer to design the hospital. We’re very pleased to keep the construction local. It’ll create about 100 to 125 construction jobs, and when the facility opens, there will be 300 new jobs – and they’re high-paying, high-tech jobs. It should be very good for the economy."
The hospital will provide acute medical and surgical services, cardiology, orthopedics, chronic disease management center, transitional care services and an Emergency Department. Young said there will be work on underground utilities next week, but construction will not start until December 2012, with a completion date set for July 2014.
The facility is expected to cost $100 million, though that cost is far below what a new hospital in Harrisburg would’ve cost PinnacleHealth, according to Young.
"Building on that land will be half of what it costs to build here (in Harrisburg)," he said. "We already own the land there, and the utilities are already there."
Young added that there are also savings when it comes to building a parking lot – paving the grass area is substantially cheaper than building or adding onto a parking garage in a city with limited room – as well as building a helipad, which the new hospital will have – a helipad on the grass is again cheaper than designing one on top of a building. Young estimated that while the facility cost about $100 million on the West Shore, an equal hospital likely would’ve cost upward of $200 million in Harrisburg.
The new hospital will be financed through a combination of borrowing and reserves, according to PinnacleHealth.
It’s not just the money saved and the money earned through jobs that were of concern for PinnacleHealth. What the decision really boiled down to is meeting the patients where they lived and offering a needed service.
Bill Pugh, senior vice president for corporate finance and CFO of PinnacleHealth, noted that each of the health system’s hospitals are already near capacity every day.
"This project will open up capacity," Pugh said. "We have over 9,000 patients admitted a year from the Cumberland and Perry county areas, and there are 20,000 outpatient customers at Fredricksen."
"For Cumberland County, 25 percent of people (in the next few years) will be age 55 or older," said Robert Lyons, chairman of the board for the PinnacleHealth System. "It’ll be a different demographic. We want to be ready for that in the future."
In preparation for that future in Cumberland and Perry counties, PinnacleHealth has already developed in-roads into the area. This past year, PinnacleHealth acquired both Heritage Medical Group and Tristán Associates. With the acquisition of Heritage Medical Group, PinnacleHealth, under its Medical Home Group name, now has 26 primary care centers in its coverage area, and the acquisition of Tristán Associates built up the health system’s imaging services.
Being able to offer both of those types of services in a wider area was something that fits into what Young designates as a 10-20-30 idea.
"Patients should be within 10 minutes of a primary care site," he explained. "That way, there’s a good chance they won’t be readmitted and will take their medication. Ergo, we have Heritage Medical Group sites. Patients should be within 20 minutes of secondary services, like imaging and blood draws. Ergo, Tristan was so important to us. And patients should be within 30 minutes of an acute care facility. We have Perry County and Mechanicsburg residents who love PinnacleHealth but they have to drive across the river to get here, and the parking is a hassle.
"Our strategic plan meets the vital needs of our growing community," he added. "We have listened to feedback and are now expanding our services so that we can more efficiently and effectively provide care at our current two acute care facilities as well as the new hospital. Our focus is providing access to quality care, innovation and controlling costs so that we can continue our mission to care for all the people of central Pennsylvania."
While the new plan for a hospital allows for PinnacleHealth to focus on its integrated, patient-centered care, it also puts them in the backyard of hospitals already in Cumberland County.
The soon-to-be full-service hospital in Hampden Township falls within less than five miles of Holy Spirit Hospital in Camp Hill and will put it in competition with Carlisle Regional Medical Center, which is about 15 miles away.
In a statement from Holy Spirit Health System, Chief Strategic Officer Rick LaVanture questioned the need for another hospital in the county.
"The need for health care reform in this country is promoting a shift to less expensive preventative, primary and outpatient care rather than more expensive hospital care," he said. "Most healthcare organizations are investing more resources in outpatient services and locations. Nationally, inpatient hospital admissions have been declining each year. Statewide inpatient discharges have also declined. The same has also been true in this local market."
He added that in the PinnacleHealth’s plan, there is a push to make rooms private instead of semi-private, and that Holy Spirit is also doing something similar. He noted, however, that "this doesn’t require the substantial expense of building a sixth hospital in the area."
LaVanture added that Holy Spirit’s board also approved a Strategic Plan that continues to meet the "changing healthcare needs of the community." Some of the initiative’s in Holy Spirit’s plan includes new operating rooms and cardiac procedure rooms with state-of-the-art technology, as well as additional convenient locations for physician care, urgent care and outpatient services. The plan also relies on its current installation of an electronic medical record system – which PinnacleHealth also has.
"Holy Spirit Health System will continue to remain focused on providing the healthcare services, quality and value that create a preference for care in south central PA," LaVanture said.
When asked about how the new facility would affect what is going on at CRMC, CEO John Kristel released a statement saying, "Carlisle Regional Medical Center is proud to have a long-standing tradition of providing quality medical care to Cumberland and Perry County residents and will continue to do so."
Posted earlier on Cumberlink.com:
PinnacleHealth today announced that its board approved a plan Monday to build a hospital adjacent to the Fredricksen Outpatient Center on the Cumberland Campus in Hampden Township.
The facility is expected to be completed in 2014 with construction likely to start in December. Though a contract has not been finalized, PinnacleHealth CEO Michael Young noted that the construction will be handled by a local company, creating more than 100 construction jobs. The facility overall will likely create 400 permanent jobs, some of which will be filled by current PinnacleHealth staff working at the Harrisburg and Community campuses.
The move is a part of PinnacleHealth’s mission to bring patient-centered care to its Cumberland County and Perry County patients and customers in their own backyard.
For more on this story, check out Wednesday’s print and online edition of The Sentinel.