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One step closer to Carbon campus St. Luke’s hosts ribbon cutting at new hospital

Carbon County residents will soon have access to modern hospital facilities and more local doctors than ever before.

St. Luke’s University Health Network cut the ribbon on its new $80 million hospital in Franklin Township on Saturday. It is the first of two new hospitals coming to the county.

St. Luke’s Carbon Campus will officially open to the public Nov. 20.

On Saturday, the hospital’s first visitors got a look inside. The hospital’s leadership promised that it will provide high-quality care, close to home, for years to come.

“The best for this county in health care is yet to come, and we at St. Luke’s are going to do everything to make sure we achieve that vision over the next number of years,” said Richard Anderson, president and CEO of St. Luke’s University Health Network.

The three-story, 155,000-square-foot hospital is located on Harrity Road, just off the Mahoning Valley Interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The hospital’s inpatient unit has 80 beds. The emergency department will have 17 when the hospital opens, with plans to expand.

More than 30 specialists will be based full-time at the hospital including a cancer specialist and a vascular surgeon.

Its health center and cafeteria will be open to the public, and St. Luke’s plans to set up walking trails around the property.

“We’re hoping the community comes up to enjoy the campus and doesn’t wait until they get sick to see how beautiful this place is,” said John Nespoli, president of St. Luke’s Carbon Campus.

The campus replaces and builds upon St. Luke’s Lehighton Campus, and its Palmerton Campus, which closed last year. Most of the services at the Lehighton Campus will shift to the new hospital, but St. Luke’s plans to continue to use the building.

Peter Kern, a former Blue Mountain board member and past president of Palmerton Hospital, recalled the history of those two hospitals during Saturday’s ribbon cutting. But he said there is no room for nostalgia in health care, and celebrated the hospital as a symbol of St. Luke’s commitment to the region.

“This is not the end of a project, it is the beginning,” Kern said.

Judge Steven R. Serfass served on the Blue Mountain board at the time of the merger, and is now the chairman of the Board of Directors of St. Luke’s Carbon Campus. He said that Blue Mountain had struggled with its aging facilities, and was at a disadvantage when it came to attracting specialist doctors to its staff. Serfass said Carbon County residents are now benefiting from St. Luke’s state-of-the art hospital and recruiting power.

“St. Luke’s vision and shared dedication for providing the very best health care services easily accessible to the community made them the ideal partner for Blue Mountain,” Serfass said.

Nespoli said Blue Mountain showed them that there was support locally for them to operate a hospital here. Now, he said, the heath network is investing millions into doctors offices and clinics around the county.

It also has plans to expand the Carbon Campus. The emergency department will be expanded to 30 beds, and they already plan to expand the Carbon Campus to include a separate doctors office building.

Nespoli said that St. Luke’s is committed to providing care locally whenever possible, rather than transferring patients away from their local hospital.

“Some networks just don’t believe advanced care can happen in these local hospitals. St. Luke’s doesn’t see it that way,” he said.

St. Luke's University Health Network held a ribbon cutting for its Carbon Campus Saturday morning. From left are Bob Martin, St. Luke's Chief Strategy Officer; Joseph Pinto, Chief Operating Officer of the Carbon campus; John Nespoli, president of St. Luke's Carbon and Lehighton campuses; Judge Steven R. Serfass, chairman of the board of directors for St. Luke's Carbon; Peter Kern, past president of Palmerton Hospital; Rick Anderson, St. Luke's CEO; Bret Buchman, St. Luke's Project Manager for Carbon Campus; and Ashley Caldwell, St. Luke's Project Manager for Carbon Campus. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
The lobby/registration desk of the new St. Luke's Carbon Campus in Franklin Township is shown Saturday. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
The cafeteria in the new St. Luke's Carbon canpus is complete with a fireplace. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS