St. Luke’s University Health Network broke ground on a major expansion of its Anderson Campus hospital in Bethlehem Township during a ceremony and reception Tuesday.
The four-story, 180,000-square-foot Women and Babies Pavilion–which President and CEO of St. Luke’s University Health Network Richard A. Anderson said will be built with “the best” American steel–will double the size of the existing seven-year-old hospital on the 500-acre Anderson Campus just off Rt. 33 at Freemansburg Avenue.
“It’s pretty special,” Anderson said of the expansion. “What’s really special is we’re going to welcome new little people into our world at this site.”
President of the Anderson Campus Ed Nawrocki said the new pavilion has been “designed with the patient in mind” as well as the future of the hospital campus.
“With the future in mind, we want to be good stewards of the property,” he said.
During construction over the next year-and-a-half, the project will employ about 350 construction workers and craftsmen through dozens of contractors who are already at work building the structure.
Upon its completion in January 2020, the new facility will sustain 200 permanent jobs, Anderson said.
“The new Women and Babies Pavilion will extend St. Luke’s high quality, lower cost health care to more people, particularly those in Northampton and Monroe counties and Warren County, N.J.,” Nawrocki said. “The project represents a major investment in the health and well-being of our community.”
As part of St. Luke’s Anderson Campus, the Women and Babies Pavilion will be easily accessible via three major highways nearby (Rt. 33, I-78 and Rt. 22).
The Pavilion will include a 32-room postpartum unit and 16-bassinet nursery, as well as 19 semi-private and eight private neonatal intensive care units (NICU) rooms offering family-friendly spaces designed for comfort and convenience, the hospital said.
Many of the rooms will be flexible spaces in order to accommodate families with multiple births, and the facility will also include a labor and delivery unit, Level III NICU and 36-bed medical/surgical unit.
Patient rooms will offer views of the area, and food will be made with produce harvested at the St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm, which is located on the campus.
Interior environments will be decorated with imagery of nearby landscapes, and special lighting and sound features will add to the healing atmosphere, the hospital said.
“We understand the needs of our patients, even as those needs change throughout the journey of their pregnancy,” said Elizabeth Dierking, MD, Program Director, OB/GYN Residency.
The pavilion will also be home to an expanded graduate medical education program that will almost double the number of residents trained within St. Luke’s to more than 40o.
“These residencies will (mean) our patients will have access to better care for decades to come,” Nawrocki said, adding that it will also make the St. Luke’s residency program the largest in the Lehigh Valley.
St. Luke’s said it plans to add 160 residents over a five-year period.
Among the residencies planned are neurology, psychiatry, dermatology, ENT (ear nose and throat), emergency medicine, internal medicine and family medicine.
“This project underscores St. Luke’s commitment to training the next generation of health care providers,” said J.P. Orlando, Ed.D, St. Luke’s Associate Chief Academic Officer. “We have a rich history of medical education, with more than 28 active residency and fellowship programs. We look forward to expanding our offerings to the Anderson Campus, which will allow us to train even more future physicians, particularly in high-demand specialties.”
Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is considered a major teaching hospital.
“Collectively, St. Luke’s various education programs serve as a critical source of medical talent for the Lehigh Valley, helping the region’s hospitals to be staffed despite a nationwide physician shortage,” said Joel C. Rosenfeld, MD, MEd, FACS, Chief Academic Officer, St. Luke’s University Health Network and Senior Associate Dean, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.
The Anderson Campus expansion is one of numerous, major expansion-related initiatives under way at St. Luke’s, which now employs approximately 14,000 people and had the best financial year in its history last year, according to Anderson.
“That’s because more and more people are choosing to come to St. Luke’s,” he said.
Already this year, St. Luke’s University Health Network has merged with Blue Mountain Health System and Sacred Heart HealthCare System. In May, St. Luke’s broke ground on a new hospital in Quakertown. And this summer, in a joint venture with Geisinger, it will break ground on a new hospital in Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County.
“We’re St. Luke’s proud,” said Anderson, who has been at the helm of the network since 1985, when its only hospital was the original Bethlehem campus in Fountain Hill. Today, SLUHN has grown to include 10 hospitals and approximately 300 outpatient centers.