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Palmerton Hospital slated for fall demolition

St. Luke’s University Health Network is getting closer to its plan to demolish the former Palmerton Hospital building.

Erica Essig, director of marketing and communications at St. Luke’s, said Monday that the hospital is slated for demolition this fall.

“There will be extensive community and neighborhood communication about timing as we continue planning,” she said via email.

St. Luke’s closed the Lafayette Avenue campus after it acquired Blue Mountain Health System and began its construction of the new St. Luke’s Carbon Campus in Franklin Township.

Demolition had originally been slated for 2020, but the pandemic and other delays pushed back the timeline.

Last week, the Carbon County Planning Commission reviewed an NPDES permit application the hospital submitted to the state ahead of the proposed demolition.

According to Essig, the 2.7-acre space will be developed into “an attractive green space that will enhance this lovely residential area.”

“St. Luke’s has invested over $200 million in Carbon County health care in recent years,” she added. “We anticipate continued expansion as the community grows and expect additional medical services to eventually be developed at the former Palmerton Hospital site within a few years.”

Four years ago, and again two years ago, St. Luke’s officials told Palmerton Chamber members of their plans to demolish the existing building to make room for a senior housing community or a health care facility of some sort.

In January 2020, former Palmerton Hospital President Peter Kern said the building, which was constructed in 1967, “served its purpose well” and was in favor of the demolition.

St. Luke’s officials at the time noted that the renovations for the building, if it was upgraded, would have come in around $30 million or more.

Moving forward, Essig said Monday that the health system is committed to the Carbon County and Palmerton communities.

“We have seen incredible advancements in health care for the Palmerton Community,” she said. “Virtually every specialty is available in the specialty center on Delaware Avenue. In addition, access to primary care has been expanded. The integrated model of OB/GYN, pediatrics and education for the new mother and father in one building located at 555 Delaware (Ave.) is one of the few facilities in the region providing women’s and children care under one roof.

“St. Luke’s also has comprehensive outpatient services in Palmerton including physical rehabilitation, imaging, laboratory services, and medical weight loss. It is the most comprehensive array of health and medical services ever available to the Palmerton community.”

Essig noted that a more comprehensive plan for the future of the site will be made public in the near future.

A Facebook group, Palmerton Hospital OGs, has been started for workers to share memories.

The former Palmerton Hospital, which was acquired by St. Luke's, is slated to be demolished this fall. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO