Our view: Health care giants investing heavily in the area



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    It’s been pretty obvious, yet most people may not have noticed it. And while it could just be coincidence, it has a serious whiff of deliberate action/counteraction. Regardless, it is almost certainly a good thing for this area.

    Wyoming Valley’s two health care behemoths have been making major announcements within days of each other. They seem to be maneuvering like grand masters matching wits near the end of a chess match, each artfully countering the other.

    The announced expansions of Geisinger and Commonwealth Health have been impressive and should serve our region wall. At the very least, more services are being offered in more places.

    The latest example: Geisinger’s announcement that emergency services will return to Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre. In the heart of a residential section of the city, treatment options at the former Mercy Hospital diminished substantially once Geisinger acquired it in 2005, making it primarily a center for urgent care and same-day services. Meanwhile, acute care and major services were greatly expanded at the Geisinger Wyoming Valley campus in Plains Township.

    Tuesday’s promise to invest $5 million into GSWB also includes full radiology and expanded lab services, and renovated private patient rooms.

    This news came less than two weeks after groundbreaking for a new Geisinger outpatient clinic in Kingston, at the site of a former Wyoming Valley Motors Car Dealership. That project is expected to top off around $8.5 million.

    And that groundbreaking, on Aug. 30, came the day before Commonwealth Health announced that Wilkes-Barre General Hospital had earned Level II Trauma accreditation, meaning it is prepared for a high volume of life-threatening trauma cases. It also means fewer trauma patients will be forced to spend additional time being transported to Level II centers elsewhere.

    That news, in turn, came amid a $40 million expansion at Wilkes-Barre General made very apparent by the large cranes looming over the building in recent months.

    And those are just the major changes publicized in recent weeks.

    It wasn’t so long ago that Geisinger offered a piece of land near it’s Plains Township campus to Wilkes-Barre Area School Board for a proposed consolidated high school. The district so far has opted for a different site, but the offer was impressive.

    Wilkes-Barre General recently announced a smaller initiative at Choices in Kingston: weekly meetings designed to help families with loved ones in recovery, as well as those in recovery.

    The great American mantra has always been that competition is good for everyone, but it is not a universal truth in our system. Unregulated competition can lead to neglect in small markets and — ironically — monopolies in large ones.

    That threat still exists, but these latest announcement suggest, at least locally, consolidation is beginning to push more health care opportunities out to more locations. Here’s hoping the trend continues.

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