LVHN gets approval for hospital
Attorney Timothy Siegfried, left, questions Nathan Oiler, an engineer working with Lehigh Valley Health Network, about site plans for the proposed hospital off Route 443. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS
An artist’s rendering of the 89,000-square-foot hospital to be built in Mahoning Township. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
The board of supervisors of Mahoning ruled Monday night to approve Lehigh Valley Health Network’s conditional use application for its hospital off Route 443, the result of an emotional public hearing held at the Mahoning Valley Ambulance building.
The supervisors’ decision comes after the planning commission recommended rejection last month.
Representing LVHN, attorney Timothy Siegfried stood before a packed house and delivered the same deposition he gave before the planning commission last month.
He called on witnesses, including the future president of LVHN’s anticipated Carbon facility, Terry Purcell.
Purcell, too, reiterated the points he made in October: There was need for the new hospital in the area, the facility would bring about 150 jobs with it and Carbon as a whole would benefit, he said.
When it came time for public comment, Alan Beck, whose father owns the 35-acre property where LVHN’s facility will be built, was one of the first to speak.
“The Beck family has been a big part of this township for a long time,” he began. “It means a lot to me to see that something good is going to happen with this property.”
Citing one board member’s concern that LVHN wouldn’t provide the township with any property tax, Beck pointed out that as of now, Mahoning only sees about $26 from the farmland annually, because it’s enrolled in the state’s Clean and Green program, which assesses property taxes on use rather than fair market values.
“I think our health care is worth more than $26,” Beck said.
Shalmar Mantz, a Mahoning resident, told the board her son, Keegan Wyshosky, was 8 years old when his brain tumor was diagnosed. Wyshosky, now 13, is stable, but still deals with a condition that causes him to throw up.
Mantz said when her son goes into a vomiting fit, she has to drive him to the St. Luke’s Gnaden Huetten campus in Lehighton before he can be transported to his specialists at another LVHN facility.
“Please, when you’re looking at this and the whole picture, please think of the situations that many people are in,” Mantz said.
“Think about the poor moms, who are trying to get their vomiting children down to an ER, because you need to be with your team.”
After personal testimony from more than 15 residents in favor of the hospital, Siegfried rested his case without a closing argument.
“Normally, I would recap what the audience was saying,” he said. “Can’t do that.”
Supervisors then broke into a short executive session, with two of them coming back and vocalizing their full support for a LVHN hospital in Mahoning.
“It’s not every day that you’re looking at a $100 million investment in Mahoning Township,” John Wieczorek, chairman, said, referencing the hospital’s $65 million price tag and road improvements set to be done on Route 443 by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Supervisor Myron Blahy said it was about the residents’ needs, not the supervisors’ views.
“I’m in favor of everything that was said here tonight,” Blahy said. “It was very touching.”
When the supervisors granted LVHN’s conditional use application, the whole crowd cheered.
Health care in Carbon has surged in recent years. Lehigh Valley Health’s future campus, estimated to open in 2021, is part of the network’s fast-growing presence in the county; it has opened two ExpressCAREs since unveiling the proposed hospital in August, and in September, revealed its aim to acquire another health system: Coordinated Health.
A few miles away from the site of Lehigh Valley Health’s hospital, St. Luke’s recently broke ground on its own 80-bed campus in Franklin Township, projected to open next year.
The network, which operates three Care Now locations in Carbon, is also constructing a medical office on Delaware Avenue in Palmerton at the former home of Haja Lanes.