WILKES-BARRE — Location matters in real estate and just as much in Geisinger Health System’s decision to reopen the emergency department at its hospital in South Wilkes-Barre.
The plan is to have the department at Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre ready by July of this year.
In order to meet the deadline for the $5 million project, the adult urgent care facility will have to be relocated within the building, a new 14-bed inpatient unit will be constructed on the sixth floor, between 25 to 30 nurses will be added as part of the overall 75 jobs created, the laboratory services expanded — and Dr. Todd Holmes and Physician Assistant Mary Azarewicz will return to familiar territory.
“This is definitely needed,” said Azarewicz, who along with Holmes worked in the old emergency department before Geisinger closed it in 2009. A state-of-the art facility close by would meet the needs of the community, Azarewicz said.
Approximately 25 percent of the people seen in the emergency department at Geisinger Wyoming Valley in Plains Township come from South Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding communities, said Dan Landesberg, an administrative director with Geisinger.
In September, Geisinger announced it would restore emergency room service in order to honor its commitment to provide quality, specialty care close to home. The Danville-based integrated health care company bought the former Mercy Hospital in 2005, maintained an emergency department there for four years and closed it to concentrate on urgent and same-day adult and pediatric care.
Those services will remain and the adult urgent care area will make way for the facility that will be the third in the area. Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center has an emergency department several miles away. Wilkes-Barre General Hospital’s is located across town.
“The vision is to have a community hospital feel,” said Holmes, stressing that if more specialized tertiary care service is required it would be available from the Geisinger Health System.
The emergency department will be open around-the-clock every day of the year and a closer location than the other ERs for ambulances traveling from lower Luzerne County, said Angelo Venditti, RN, chief nursing officer for Geisinger Northeast.
That’s a plus for communities that have only one ambulance, Venditti said. “We can speed up their turnaround times,” he said.