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Construction on St. Luke’s medical facility in Lansford is moving forward

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    Steel supports rise up at the future site of a St. Luke’s medical facility in Lansford on Tuesday. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS

Published July 11. 2018 11:14AM

The landscape of health care in Carbon County has changed a lot since a medical building was proposed in Lansford 18 months ago.

Since then, St. Luke’s University Health Network acquired two hospitals in Carbon County after merging with Blue Mountain Health System. And developer Joseph Bennett revealed that St. Luke’s would also lease the proposed Lansford building.

According to Bennett, the need for a medical facility in the Panther Valley hasn’t decreased, despite the merger.

“There are some very exciting things that have happened and are happening to improve health care in our community,” he said.

Construction is ramping up at the proposed St. Luke’s facility at the intersection of Patterson and Coal streets in the borough. The facility, which will supplement St. Luke’s Miners Campus in nearby Coaldale, doesn’t have an official name, but Bennett says it will help improve health care and business in the borough.

“The bottom line is, there’s going to be ready coverage and capacity to serve the needs of the Lansford community,” Bennett said.

Medical facility

Crews broke ground on the facility last month. So far, they have erected structural steel and the shell of an elevator on the site.

Bennett said on Tuesday that the two-story, 4,450-square-foot facility should be completed by the end of 2018. The project is estimated to cost more than $1.5 million.

“We’re on schedule, if not a couple weeks behind, but we’re catching up,” he said.

The facility will include a physical therapy practice, which has been a part of the plan since it was proposed in 2016. St. Luke’s hasn’t said what will fill the rest of the building.

Bennett said that an aquatherapy pool, which was mentioned when the project was approved, is no longer in the plans at this time.

Parking will be located on the Bertsch Street side of the property, as well as on a lot across Patterson Street that is owned by Bennett.

Bennett praised borough officials for their cooperation on the project. He said that they have been accommodating in providing water and sewer service. Council also agreed to restrict the parking spots outside of the building to St. Luke’s use only during business hours.

Looking up

Council President Jared Soto said that he’s seen a positive reaction to Bennett’s project on social media. He hopes that a modern medical facility will help residents and existing businesses in the borough who could see additional customers.

“Currently, there are over 65 businesses in Lansford and this will be another welcome addition. The facility will be a benefit to the health and well-being of our residents,” Soto said.

While the facility will be leased by St. Luke’s, Bennett will retain ownership, so it should create a boost in tax revenue for the borough and Panther Valley School District.

Bennett acquired the site of the abandoned Palace Theater in late 2015 for $7,500, and demolished it in late 2016 to early 2017. He purchased the property across Patterson Street and demolished it for parking.

Since the Lansford project was first proposed, Bennett has since built facilities for St. Luke’s in Lehighton and West Penn Township, Schuylkill County. The Lehighton site immediately became one of the busiest urgent care facilities in the network.

He said that he believes that Lansford will be the site of more development in the near future, and that it will drive out what he called “scum lords” who have neglected their properties in the borough.

“I believe that will change as more people consider Lansford a viable place to live with good health care, thanks to St. Luke’s,” he said.

There are so many folks in Carbon and Schuylkill counties that have neurological conditions and aquatherapy is definitely needed. The nearest facility is at St. Luke's in Bethlehem. If you want to make sure patients get quality therapy, then an indoor pool is needed to give patients the best quality of care around.

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