Coordinated Health plans to build a 24-room hospital outside Scranton, making it the third Lehigh Valley health system to launch a major construction project this month.
The hospital, expected to open in 2020, will give Coordinated Health surgeons their own operating space, so they don’t have to rely on access to the facilities of competitors such as Geisinger and Community Health Systems, said spokeswoman Florence Brown. Coordinated Health acquired a 12-physician orthopedic practice last year in Dickson City, outside Scranton, with the promise of building an orthopedic hospital.
“It was a significant attraction,” said Dr. Harry Schmaltz, a Coordinated Health orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hip and knee replacements.
Hospital officials are still estimating the project’s cost.
As independent doctors dwindle and health networks become increasingly competitive, Coordinated Health officials didn’t want to depend on other health systems for operating facilities, Brown said.
Plus, a Coordinated Health hospital will give its surgeons more control over patient care, Schmaltz said.
“If it’s our hospital, we’re in charge of the details,” he said. “There’s nobody that knows better than the surgeon who’s providing the direct care.”
Coordinated Health expects to hire emergency room doctors, specialists, nurses and other support staff, which would add another 200 to 300 employees to the 1,400-employee health system.
Competition among Lehigh Valley health systems is driving construction projects. Last week, St. Luke’s University Health Network and Geisinger started co-building a hospital in Schuylkill County, where Lehigh Valley Health Network runs two hospitals. And then Lehigh Valley Health Network announced plans for a $111 million expansion of the emergency department at its Cedar Crest campus.
Coordinated Health also is expanding into more places. The network, which focuses on orthopedic surgeries, will open a surgical center in Phillipsburg in the fall, and is building a medical office and an outpatient center in Hazleton.
Coordinated Health has been building small hospitals, medical offices and outpatient centers across eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey to keep overhead costs low and offer services close to where people live, said Amy Nyberg, its president and chief operating officer.
“We see the need for a new model of care that’s more accessible and brings down the cost,” she said.
Coordinated Health is building in mid-size cities that have older hospitals, Nyberg said. Their facilities offer walk-in, diagnostic, imaging, clinic, physical therapy and inpatient services, “so the patient is elegantly pulled through the system.”