Any doubt that Dickson City’s first hospital might never get finished should have faded by now.
What is now to be the Lehigh Valley
Hospital-Dickson City saw delays and a change of ownership, but now Main Street commuters can see it taking shape for themselves.
Lehigh Valley Health Network officials say the project is on track to meet its spring 2022 target open date, in spite of a work stoppage that lasted about a year and a half and rising material prices now.
Plans remain intact to include 18 emergency room bays, seven operating rooms and two procedure rooms with 24 pre- and post-procedure bays.
The hospital will span four floors and include another 24 general patient rooms with space to build out 24 more later. Officials have said the hospital will create around 260 jobs.
It also will have a heliport.
For-profit, Allentown-based Coordinated Health kicked off the project in early 2019 for what it would call Coordinated Health Scranton Hospital.
Construction began that winter with earth movers clearing the site. But it stalled after that, and the project’s viability seemed shaky. Construction only resumed in earnest nearly one year after the nonprofit Lehigh Valley, also headquartered in Allentown, acquired Coordinated at the end of 2019.
Hospital officials aren’t ringing any alarm bells over a dramatic rise in
building material prices triggered by
For builders around the country, costs zoomed upward as supply chains shuddered and, in some cases, snapped.
Building material prices have increased 26%, according to a survey by the National Association of Homebuilders, and many in the industry haven’t been able to find materials at all. Some specific products went much higher. The price of plywood, for example, rose by more than 250%.
But that hasn’t tripped up the hospital project, according to Lehigh Valley spokeswoman Jessica Blasco. Generally speaking, Lehigh Valley has managed costs “without significant impacts,” she said.
“Some of the more significant material purchases, such as the structural steel, (were) procured before the rise in prices,” she said.
Lehigh Valley also notably changed the name to be geographically accurate.
Coordinated’s original plan — to call
it the “Scranton Hospital” — took advantage of the bigger neighbor city with
better name recognition, but was technically incorrect.
Lehigh Valley Hospital – Dickson City President Elizabeth Wise offered a simple explanation for the adjustment.
“We use the location in which the facility is located,” she said.
While builders make progress, one
of the hospital’s earliest advocates
remains concerned about the added traffic it will create.
Two separate multi-million-dollar projects, one currently underway by Lackawanna County and a multi-year one in its early stages by the borough, are supposed to improve traffic flow and aesthetics along the North Main Avenue, Scranton and Main Street, Dickson City corridor.
But they should have been more coordinated, according to Dickson City Councilman and borough planning commission Chairman Mike Fedorka.
He would have liked to see Main Street widened from the I-81 interchange to Bowman Street and a strategic effort between local, county and state governments to help downtown Dickson City attract new residential and commercial development.
“We have a small community, and the streets are not built to accept all of this traffic,” Fedorka said. “We could have worked together instead of piecemealing what is being done now.”