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Hospital looking for room to grow

August 24, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - When Waynesboro Hospital was built in 1922 on a pie-shaped, 5.2-acre plot of ground, there was plenty of room for its mission at the time.

More than 80 years later, that is no longer the case.

In 1992, the hospital had 425 full-time and part-time employees; today it has 526.

The population in the Waynesboro area has grown. Earlier this month, Washington Township officials said applications have come in to rezone more than 950 acres of farmland for residential development.

"We're looking at demographics," said Kenneth L. Shur, vice president and chief operating officer of Waynesboro Hospital. "We're looking at past volume and trying to project 10 to 15 years into the future."

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For now, the hospital is landlocked on its 5.2 acres, he said.

In the last few years, the hospital's board of directors has been looking eastward for expansion room, Shur said.

The hospital is hemmed in by a residential neighborhood on its east side, and by Roadside Avenue and East Main Street on the south and north sides.

Roadside Avenue and Main Street intersect at one point on the hospital's western border.

In 1990, the hospital bought the former East Junior High School building across East Main Street and the narrow strip of land under and around it. The old school building was razed in 1998. A grassed-over vacant field stands in its place. An employee parking lot and a helipad have been built on the property.

The only place to grow contiguously is between Enterprise and Sunnyside avenues, a block of 17 nicely kept, mostly brick homes. The block is bordered on the south by East Main Street and on the north by Roadside Avenue. Prospect Street runs west to east through the middle.

So far, the hospital has bought 13 of the 17 homes with plans to buy the remaining four as they come up for sale.

"We're not knocking on doors, but we are trying to buy property that's contiguous to ours," Shur said.

The hospital rents the houses.

The hospital pays the full appraised value on each house it buys, Shur said. Sellers save money on real estate agent fees.

A private-nonprofit entity, the hospital does not have authority to condemn property by eminent domain, Shur said.

There are no plans to build a new hospital building, Shur said.

The last major renovation to the hospital was in 1992 when a wing was added along with a birthing center, the emergency room was modernized and outpatient and lobby facilities were upgraded, he said.

A new front portico and entrance were built last year.

The board of directors hired an architect to help in the planning for the hospital's future needs, Shur said.

"We're looking at sketches and options," he said. "The board has made no decisions or commitments."

Some improvements and expansions under consideration include refurbishing or replacing the critical care unit, expanding the diagnostic imagery facility, which is out of space, and adding to the medical-surgical unit by replacing old hospital rooms with new ones and using the old rooms for other purposes.

"We'd also like to bundle our outpatient services into a common area. Now it's spread over several areas in the hospital, Shur said.

There are no plans to increase the number of beds, currently at 62, he said.

"We are committed to remaining a full-service community hospital," Shur said. "There's enough real estate for us here to work with."

Waynesboro Hospital is part of Summit Health, which also owns Chambersburg Hospital.

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