WellSpan breaks ground on hospital in Cumberland County

Cumberland County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the Commonwealth, and healthcare systems have noticed.

In recent years the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center built one hospital — UPMC West Shore — in the county and purchased another one — UPMC Carlisle. Penn State Health has done the same, building Penn State Health Hampden Medical Center. It also purchased another one — Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center.

Now another large health system is making its move into Cumberland County.

Say hello to WellSpan Health.

On Thursday, WellSpan Health officials broke ground on the future WellSpan Carlisle Hospital and medical campus — a 20,000-square-foot neighborhood hospital, and a 35,000-square-foot ambulatory center and medical office building at 1201 Walnut Bottom Road in South Middleton Township.

“When we look at the Carlisle area overall, it’s one of the fastest growing regions in Pennsylvania,” said Niki Hinckle, senior vice president of WellSpan’s West Region which includes Cumberland, Adams and Franklin counties.

WellSpan already has primary care services, a few surgical care practices, some medical practices and a heart and vascular cardiology program in the Carlisle area, but for Hinckle, the new medical campus marks the beginning of WellSpan’s entry into Cumberland County.

“This expansion is really what I would consider to be our true entry into the market,” she said. “We will have really a one-stop shop on our campus to include the neighborhood hospital as well as an ambulatory surgery center and a medical office building.”

The neighborhood hospital will include a 24/7 emergency room along with 10 inpatient beds and some basic diagnostic services.

Ryan Coyle, a spokesperson with WellSpan notes that the number of beds represents the number of people admitted. Most people who go to the emergency room aren’t actually admitted to the hospital. The emergency room will have 10 triage bays, which will also include beds, for patients should they need one while they’re being treated.

The ambulatory center will include four operating rooms, imaging services and laboratories, as well as additional space for medical practices. WellSpan’s existing primary care practice in the area will move to the campus. Plastic surgery and neuroscience practices will also open on the campus.

The neighborhood hospital is new for WellSpan. The health system also plans to build neighborhood hospitals in York County in Hopewell Township near New Freedom and Shrewsbury and in Newberry Township. WellSpan is partnering with Emerus to develop the hospitals. Emerus operates other neighborhood hospitals, including one in the Greensburg area. The hospital will be staffed by WellSpan providers.

Hinckle says the neighborhood hospitals will be more affordable.

“It won’t come with the same cost and overhead structure as a typical hospital. And because of the size of the hospital it really enhances the patient experience by having a comfortable care setting,” she said. “The layout is more efficient. We want patients and their families to feel comfortable and at ease while they’re in our space. And these hospitals — the format allows us to do that.”

Hinckle said that if a patient needed a higher level of care, they could be moved to another WellSpan hospital.

The hospital is expected to open in late 2025.

“We’re very excited to bring the one-stop-shop to Cumberland County,” she said.

As for any further expansion into the county, “At this point we’re really focused on central and western Cumberland County,” she said.

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