WILKES-BARRE — Starting Sunday, residents in South Wilkes-Barre will have access to an emergency room at Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre again after nearly a decade without one in the neighborhood.
Geisinger hosted a tour on Friday to showcase $5 million renovations that made its return to service possible.
In order to remodel the facility, the adult urgent care facility as relocated within the building, a new 14-bed inpatient unit was constructed on the sixth floor, the laboratory services expanded — and Dr. Todd Holmes and Physician Assistant Mary Azarewicz will return to familiar territory.
“For the first time since 2009, the South Wilkes-Barre and surrounding communities will have access to 24/7 emergency care in a friendly, familiar environment,” Anthony Aquilina, regional president, Geisinger Northeast, said.
“This facility is located where the people are,” added Todd Holmes, director of Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre Emergency Medicine.
Holmes said it will be a fully functional, emergency department, and is more accessible to the immediate community.
“We were seeing about 23,000 people a year when we converted to urgent care in 2009,” he said. “I think it will be busy again. I think there is a need in this community.”
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.
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 Susan Kramer, RN, regional director of emergency department. She said between Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton and Geisinger Wyoming Valley, they’re expected to see 125,000 ER visits for the fiscal year.
“Obviously there is a need within the community, and we want to make sure we are able to provide timely care,” she said.
Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney said the reopening means faster and better care for patients.
“It’s seven-and-a-half miles from this hospital to Geisinger Wyoming Valley, and it’s about a 16-minute ambulance ride,” he said.
“It’s just better for patient care. And it just makes the stability of our community that much stronger.”
Landesburg said the investment in the emergency department are just the latest in the investments Geisinger is making in the community.
“Since 2015, we’ve invested a total of $22 million in this campus and community,” he said.
“We’re community based. We’re here to care for our patients.”
Reach Brigid Edmunds-Lawrence at 570-991-6113 or on Twitter @brigidedmunds