Hospital unveils expansion plans at neighborhood meeting

May 30, 2003|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - An $11 million expansion of Chambersburg Hospital's emergency room facilities could begin this fall, part of a three-phase expansion of the hospital that is still in the planning process, a hospital official said Thursday.

"This needs to be approved by the board. The only thing that's been approved is the emergency room," John Massimilla, the vice president for administration, said of the proposals.

Residents living near the hospital were invited to a meeting there Thursday to be advised of the plans.

The second phase of the expansion, which has yet to be approved by the hospital's board of directors, is an addition of approximately 14,000 square feet to the cancer treatment center located in a building in the north end of the hospital's 21.5 acre campus. Chemotherapy services would be moved out of the main building to the center, where radiation treatments are currently performed.


The third phase would be a two- or three-story patient treatment facility that would add more private rooms to the 232-bed hospital. It would have a "footprint" of approximately 20,000 square feet and be located immediately behind the hospital, Massimilla said.

"Forty million, ballpark ... very ballpark," Massimilla said of the cost of all three phases. If the board approves all three, construction could take three to five years, he said. That would be followed by renovations to the main hospital building, which could take several more years.

Also included is additional parking on hospital-owned property on the west side of Seventh Street and in an area near the cancer center that is now used for modular buildings.

The emergency room treats about 39,000 people a year, twice what it did a dozen years ago, according to Bryan Salzmann, an attorney representing the hospital in the land use planning process.

That 8,000-square-foot facility was added on in the early 1980s, according to Massimilla, who said the hospital's board approved the emergency room portion of the project Tuesday.

The hospital is seeking an 8-foot variance on the 40-foot height restriction in areas zoned low-density residential, Salzmann said. That variance and three special exceptions to the zoning ordinance are to be considered by the borough's zoning hearing board at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 3.

The new emergency room will be built in front of the existing one, which will continue operations during construction. Once the new one is completed, the old will be remodeled and used for emergency room-related radiology and CAT scan services, according to Massimilla.

The number of treatment bays in the emergency area will increase from 19 to 30, he said.

A number of questions from the dozen of so nearby residents were about parking.

"We are obviously concerned that if there is another parking area that it be aesthetically pleasing," said Pam Bartl of 232 N. Sixth St.

Much of the hospital parking areas are open to use by anyone and Dr. John Ashby of 630 Montgomery Ave., a retired physician and neighbor, suggested some type of control on their use, such as an employee parking area with a card access system.

Questions were asked about other properties the hospital has purchased in the surrounding neighborhood over the years.

"We purchase properties for future use down the road," Massimilla said after the meeting. "What they are is hard to predict, but we keep our neighbors in mind."

Bartl suggested the hospital could build another emergency room to handle fewer serious cases on its 25-acre campus on the northern end of Chambersburg as a way of relieving the patient traffic.

Salzmann said a new entrance onto Lincoln Way East was considered in the planning, but dropped because it likely would disrupt traffic on the already busy road.

The hospital plans to hold monthly meetings with neighboring residents to keep them updated on the progress of the expansion, Salzmann told the group.

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