NANTICOKE – Nanticoke planners are hoping a new health clinic in the heart of downtown will help bring back the city's pulse.
Geisinger Health System broke ground Friday on a new 12,000-square-foot facility on Main Street that health system officials said will house two physician offices and provide jobs for 11 new hires.
City, state and health system officials said the new practice will be a cornerstone of the city's economic revitalization. The two-story building will go up on a vacant East Main Street lot next to Luzerne County Community College's Health Science Center, the other base of that redevelopment.
I'm a very strong believer that a good medical practice can be an anchor for a community, said Dr. John Gardner, Geisinger's medical director for Luzerne County. Much like good schools and churches, a medical practice can be a keystone a community can coalesce around and build and begin to grow.
City Manager Pam Heard said the health care building will generate tax revenue for the city, create jobs and draw people into the city center, bolstering businesses in the area and creating opportunities for new businesses.
We've got little businesses springing up all over town, Heard said, pointing out a T-shirt shop and a coffee shop across East Main Street, both recent additions to Nanticoke's downtown.
Heard said the revitalization will also be advanced by a pending PennDOT road improvement project on Main and Market Street, which she compared to the streetscape project in downtown Pittston.
State Sen. John Yudichak said a group of Nanticoke business owners called the South Valley Partnership, together with the city and Nanticoke Municipal Authority, envisioned the development of a downtown LCCC campus and of a health care corridor would be two pillars of the new downtown.
The first component was accomplished with LCCC's moving of its health science school into the former Kanjorski Building and its construction of a new culinary school on East Main Street. Geisinger's move is the first step in the second component's development, Yudichak said.
We're going to put the educational facilities with the health care facilities and create a new base, Yudichak said. We can attract new businesses to the downtown, new companies to the downtown, new people.
The $3.8 million building will provide offices for Dr. Marie Grabowski, who will relocate from her existing office in Nanticoke, and Dr. Susan Werner, a family practitioner who will move from the Kistler Clinic in Wilkes-Barre.
It will also be staffed by an advanced practitioner, four nurses, a phlebotomist to work in an onsite lab, four office staff and a ProvenHealth Navigator – a liaison who advises patients with chronic conditions on lifestyles and health care management. Geisinger spokesman Matt Van Stone said those positions would all be filled by new hires.
The new clinic will house Geisinger's seventh pediatric office in Luzerne County and marks the health system's third major expansion in 18 months. The system recently opened after-hours walk-in clinics in Dallas and Mountain Top and the Tambur Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at its medical center in Plains Township.
Geisinger officials said it would bring essential services closer to the Nanticoke community.
We already provide medical care to a lot of people in this community, so the idea is to go to the people, rather than having the people travel to us, Gardner said.
Construction is scheduled to begin Monday. Geisinger expects it will open in late spring.