Construction is underway for Penn Highlands Healthcare’s new State College area hospital and medical office building.
Penn Highlands officials were joined by local community leaders on Tuesday for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the hospital site in the Patton Town Center development on Colonnade Boulevard, behind Sheetz and Cracker Barrel.
When completed in spring 2024, the $70 million facility in Patton Township will be the health system’s ninth hospital, but first it has designed and built from the ground up since it was formed in 2011.
“This is a momentous day for Penn Highlands Healthcare and the Centre County community,” Mark Norman, chief operating officer, said. “While Penn Highlands has eight hospitals in northwest, central and southwestern Pennsylvania, today’s groundbreaking marks the first time we are designing and building a truly patient-centric hospital to meet today’s health care needs in the area.”
The three-story, 82,000-square-foot hospital and two-story, 32,000-square-foot medical office building will largely be geared toward outpatient care, though will provide some inpatient services.
Norman said that is reflective of trends in health care over the past two decades.
“People are receiving advanced care beyond the walls of hospitals and are becoming more reliant on outpatient care,” he said. “Twenty years ago when someone needed a diagnosis, sometimes that required inpatient admission and lots of testing that had to be done on an inpatient basis. Today… the advances in outpatient technology and less invasive care which mostly can be done on an outpatient basis [are] why we’re excited about this facility.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t need hospitals. We still do, but inpatient care is becoming more reserved for those that really need it.”
The hospital will include an emergency department with 10 private treatment rooms and a trauma room; a surgical department with three high-tech operating suites and an endoscopy procedure room; 18 private inpatient rooms; a medical imaging department; and a pulmonary function lab for screening diagnosis and treatment.
“Our patients will be greeted with state of the art advancement from the minute they enter this building,” Rhonda Halstead, regional market president, said. “Penn Highlands State College will be one of the most technically advanced hospitals in the region.”
Attached to the hospital will be the medical office building, which will offer a walk-in clinic providing care to people of all ages; family medicine, pediatric and specialty care physicians; obstetrics and gynecology services; women’s medical imaging; lung and heart centers; laboratory services; and a retail pharmacy with drive-through service.
It will also house the Penn Highlands Hahne Cancer Center, which will include multiple oncologists, multidisciplinary care, infusion and radiation services and a linear accelerator.
The new facility isn’t Penn Highlands’ first foray into the State College area. After merging with JC Blair, the health system offers at a lung center, rehabilitation, gastrointestinal and neurosurgery services at 611 University Drive.
“The one fact that remains constant in healthcare is that people want to be treated close to home and that’s true in all the communities we serve and all of our various hospitals,” Norman said. “By building this technically advanced hospital and medical office building for outpatient care here in State College, we’re providing the people in State College and surrounding areas convenient and innovative care delivered by skilled and compassionate Penn Highlands medical professionals.”
A spokesperson could not say how many jobs the new facility will create, but Norman said from construction through after the hospital is completed, it will have an economic benefit to the region.
“Every hospital job supports additional jobs in the community,” he said. “Every dollar spent by the hospital supports roughly $2.30 in additional business activity, or as we like to call it the economic ripple effect that health care has on all our communities.”
Penn Highlands, which currently has 6,651 employees at more than 150 locations in 39 counties, purchased the land for the hospital and medical building in 2019 for $6.9 million.
Patton Township supervisors approved final land development plans in April 2021.
The Penn Highlands facility isn’t the only new medical building coming to that area of Patton Township.
A short drive down Waddle Road, Mount Nittany Health will construct a new four-story outpatient center as the first building in the long-planned Toftrees West development. Township supervisors approved those plans in March and it is expected to be completed in late 2023, according to the most recent estimate from Mount Nittany.