WEST ROCKHILL — As preparation for a new five-story $184 million addition to Grand View Hospital continues, the former nursing school building is about to be demolished.
“Unfortunately, that building needs to come down in order to make room for improvements,” Grand View Health COO Mark Horne said at the Aug. 19 West Rockhill Township Board of Supervisors meeting, held by teleconference.
“We have started work on that building already with the interior demolition and also asbestos abatement that's under way, and in about four weeks in mid-September, you'll see the building start to come down, not with an implosion or a ball, but with a large crane,” he said. “They call it munching. We'll be taking the building down in sections.”
The building that's being removed was built in 1953, he said. The hospital on the approximately 60-acre site on Lawn Avenue has been in existence since 1913.
The new addition will be connected to and line up with the floors in the existing hospital building.
Along with the expansion, new services are being added, such as Level 2 Trauma services, Horne said.
“This will be a huge impact to the community,” he said.
Adding the Level 2 Trauma services is expected to mean that 600 to 800 patients a year who would otherwise have to be transferred to another trauma center will be able to instead be treated locally at Grand View, he said.
The $184 million project includes $129 million for construction costs and $41 million for furniture, fixtures and equipment, slides accompanying the presentation, showed.
“We'll be starting a significant capital campaign here in just the next few weeks to try to raise money from the community,” Horne said.
The planned hospital addition is part of a 5-year, $210 million expansion of services and facilities announced in September of 2019 at Grand View's annual meeting.
Grand View has treated about 100 COVID-19 patients in the past few months, Horne said.
“I've been at Grand View almost 21 years and we have really stepped up to the plate in this pandemic response, both in the medical staff and from our nurses, our caregivers, and I will say also the community stepped up and supported Grand View. I can't tell you how many people and organizations sent food to our staff pretty much on all three shifts and weekends and weeknights and weekdays and we had tremendous support, delivered great care for patients and we're excited about being here,” Horne said.
Grand View is one of only three independent hospitals left in southeastern Pennsylvania, he said.
“I think this community is very fortunate that the decisions that need to be made about Grand View are made in West Rockhill Township,” he said. “They're not made in the Lehigh Valley or in Tennessee or Philadelphia or any place else. They're made locally by community members.”
Grand View Health spends about $230 million per year, which with ripple effects calculated in becomes a total local economic impact of about $435 million, he said.
The presentation was made along with a request for the township's approval of the land development plans for the project.
One of the remaining issues in the plans is that a portion of an area set aside for reserve parking includes wetlands, Paul Schmoll, the project engineer, said.
There are ways that the parking spaces could be created and the wetlands preserved, but a final decision doesn't have to be made at this time, he said.
“The point is that we'd like to begin construction with these being reserved,” Schmoll said. “The township wouldn't look at using this until after everything was built to determine if additional parking is required.”
Steve Baluh, the township's engineer, said the hospital now uses about 700 parking spaces and will have 862 spaces after the addition is completed, along with having two reserve areas, each of which would have room for about 100 parking spaces.
Another remaining issue is in connection with planned road widening for a portion of the Grand View property and possible changes to the traffic signals at Route 309 and Lawn Avenue, Schmoll said.
Traffic studies must be done for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation approval of the plans, but traffic studies are not being done currently because of the pandemic, he said.
“They're waiting for more standard traffic patterns,” Schmoll said. “Right now there's not as many people going on the roadway, so they can't get a really accurate count.”
He said the hospital is asking to be able to start construction of the building, but not do the road improvements until the PennDOT approval is received.
Horne said the addition is planned to be finished in the first quarter of 2023.
West Rockhill will now prepare a resolution for conditional preliminary/final approval of the plans, which will be voted on at the board's September meeting.
“Thank you for coming tonight and showing the public what you're doing. This is very exciting,” board Chairman Jim Miller told the Grand View representatives.