HONESDALE—After two years under construction, the new $35 million, 85,000 square-foot G-wing at Wayne Memorial Hospital (WMH) debuted with a ribbon cutting this weekend.
On Saturday, local officials, medical professionals and community members gathered for an open house of the 50-room, three-floor expansion and other internal renovations which totaled an additional $5 million.
“It's not very often we see this type of investment come to our area, i.e. a $40 million investment,” said David Hoff, WMH CEO, at Saturday's ribbon cutting, “and what better investment than investing in a healthcare facility to take care of our population?”
Each of the 50 new rooms, split on two floors, offers a private stay for recovering patients.
“The private rooms on floors three and four were built to reduce the risk of infection, decrease noise and enhance communication between patients and their clinical teams,” states a release.
These rooms also include state-of-the-art equipment such as smart TVs, electronic signage for posting charts and other pertinent information, and smart beds with added safety features.
“The computer technology in our rooms, which we refer to as smart-room technology, offers a safer environment and better communication between caregivers,” said Hoff.
Eight of the 50 new rooms, four on each floor, have bariatric capabilities including adjustable doorways, wider beds and chairs, and patient lifts with a 1,000 pound capacity.
The fourth floor rooms were finished and operational in early June with the third floor being opened later in July.
With the expansion complete, WMH plans to convert its old semi-private rooms into fully private ones.
The renovated Same Day Surgery unit on the second floor was also operational in June.
The unit features nine private rooms with a central nurses station keeping an eye on all patients, and accounts for seventy percent of surgeries in the hospital.
The new G-wing tower built over the last two years marks the seventh wing added to WMH since the A-wing opened at the hospital's Park Street location in 1951.
Excitement for the extension
Saturday's ribbon cutting drew a sizable crowd of officials, hospital staff and community members all gathered in the new parking facility beneath the tower.
“We finally made it!” exclaimed Dirk Mumford, Chairman of the WMH Board of Directors.
Noting the project completion was pushed off due to poor weather conditions, Mumford added, “At the same time, we got here because a bunch of people worked hard with changing schedules and revised construction deadlines.”
Mumford extended his gratitude toward the engineering and construction workers who planned and built the tower.
A major concern during and after construction was the ability for staff, visitors and patients to find parking at the hospital, the chairman explained.
“Through all of that time, the understanding and perseverance of you, the patients, you the visitors, you the staff and you the public has been nothing short of fantastic,” said Mumford.
WMH Chief of Staff William Dewar recounted the history of the hospital's growth since it first opened in 1920 up until the completion of the G-wing.
Dewar noted at one point, the board considered relocating to a spot on Route 191 with more space for construction and parking, but ultimately decided not to due to concern raised from Dr. Harry Propst.
“His main concern was what would happen to downtown if this hospital moved out,” said Dewar. “He realized it would be challenging for us to grow on this footprint, but he felt that downtown was more important than the challenges we would have. And he felt that the board would be able to overcome those challenges.”
Recounting the advances made by WMH over the years, Dewar added, “The building isn't what makes this hospital. It's the employees. The employees...providing excellent care and caring care right from the people that do the cleaning up to the administration, have done such a wonderful job that people want to come here for their medical care.”
Former WMH Board Chair Paul Meagher Sr. explained there are two vital things property owners look for when buying new land: the condition of local school districts and the state of the area's health care system.
Noting there are three quality school districts in Wayne County, Meagher said of the healthcare, “I'm always very proud to say that we have a top-flight hospital and the care that you will receive is of the best quality known.”
He added, “On behalf of the people of Wayne, Pike, Sullivan and Lackawanna county that we serve, I want to thank the Board of Directors and our fine administration for having the vision, the foresight, the fortitude and the energy to do the planning, the feasibility studies and finally the construction so that our hospital will continue to provide the top-quality care to our people and the communities that we serve.”
Praise and support for the expansion project also came from elected officials representing Wayne County.
“This is a bold endeavor that you are bringing to fruition today and I'm proud to be here to help you do it,” said US Congressman Matt Cartwright. “It's an investment not only to expand healthcare access, but also enhance the healing process and support healthy living.”
Cartwright noted the hospital expansion offers a number of boons to patients, resources for medical providers, and boosts the local economy.
The Congressman added, “Thank you Wayne Memorial Hospital for prioritizing people and wellness.”
Wayne County Commissioner Joseph Adams likewise stated, “One of the reasons that we feel so strongly that Wayne County has an advantage over many is we have a thriving community hospital that is incredibly sensitive to being a community hospital, but also sensitive to having the staff care so much about the community and our people.”
The Wayne County Commissioners aided WMH in financing the expansion project and other hospital expenditures by backing $60 million of debt with low-interest, tax-free financing, Adams explained.
“We're very proud of our community and especially our hospital,” said Adams. “The stability that's created by the people of Wayne County and Wayne Memorial Hospital is an amazing factor in the success of this hospital.”
Other elected officials regarded at Saturday's ribbon cutting were Amiee Wechsler of US Senator Bob Casey's office, PA State Representative Jonathan Fritz, Pike County Commissioners Steve Guccini and Ronald Schmalzle, Honesdale Mayor Sarah Canfield, Wayne County Coroner Edward Howell and Wayne County District Attorney Patrick Robinson.
Leading the presentations, Honesdale High School senior quartet Morgan Brown, Maya Wehrmann, Andrew Buckwalter and Dan DeCrotie sang the National Anthem.
Reverend Edward Erb of Grace Episcopal Church followed with an invocation.
—Information from a release was used in this story.