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Pa. hospitals plan expansion projects

November 29, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA. - While Norman B. Epstein's annual message to the Summit Health Board of Directors included a retrospective look at millions of dollars in charity care and technology investments, the health system's president and CEO said he and the board take greater pride in what is to come.

The near future for Summit Health in Franklin County, Pa., includes major expansion projects at Waynesboro and Chambersburg hospitals, a new outpatient facility in Greencastle and 64-slice CT scanners that produce diagnostic images in mere seconds.

"We're always looking at what the community needs in the future," Epstein said. "We're not living in the present."

In addition to building projects and technology, Epstein emphasized that staffing will continue to be a key focus for Summit Health.

Chambersburg Hospital, which functions in a county boasting the state's lowest unemployment rate, maintains a practice of "overhiring" for positions prone to shortages like those for registered nurses, X-ray technicians and laboratory and respiratory therapists. Summit Health, with almost $282 million of operating revenue in fiscal year 2005-06, employed more than 70 physicians.

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"We spend a lot of time with physicians, trustees and people in the community on how we're going to best serve the community in the future," Epstein said.

Summit Health in late September publicly unveiled plans for more than $13 million worth of expansion at Waynesboro Hospital. That project includes a 9,300-square-foot addition to the hospital's diagnostic imaging center and 14,500 square feet of space for outpatient services.

Epstein said Tuesday that Chambersburg Hospital will be adding a new bed tower with all private rooms within five years.

Summit Health recently purchased 15 acres of land adjacent to the John L. Grove Medical Center in Greencastle. The one-day outpatient facility will have CT and MRI scanning available as well as "urgent care services."

"Eventually it'll be the concept that someone can walk in without an appointment," Epstein said. That person then can be diagnosed and treated for ailments like a sprain or cold, he said.

"We're talking about what busy people are doing," Epstein said.

That service would be comparable to the "basic care" option offered five days a week at the emergency room in Chambersburg Hospital.

The program there, which is expanding, provides service for common ailments in less than an hour.

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