WellSpan to open ‘mini hospitals’ in York, Cumberland counties

A neighborhood hospital in Pittsburgh, shown above, is similar to facilities WellSpan Health is planning to bring to Central Pennsylvania. (photo/submitted)

WellSpan Health is partnering with a Texas company to open three mini hospitals in York and Cumberland counties that will focus on providing emergency care.

  • The regional health system is still finalizing the locations of the new facilities, said Dr. Anthony Aquilina, executive vice president and chief physician executive for York-based WellSpan.
  • But, he said, they will serve areas where residents need better access to around-the-clock emergency care.
  • “We are in six counties in southcentral Pennsylvania and there are certainly growing areas, growing communities that don’t have convenient access,” Aquilina said.

Who’s the partnerEmerus, which operates nearly 40 such hospitals around the U.S., including four in the Pittsburgh area for Allegheny Health Network, a subsidiary of Highmark Health

  • “They are very patient-friendly, very efficient facilities,” Aquilina said.
  • Emerus will staff and operate the hospitals proposed for York and Cumberland counties. But they will be branded as WellSpan facilities and integrated with the health system’s records systems.
  • Other Emerus partners include Baptist Health SystemBaylor Scott & White Health, and Catholic health systems Ascension and CommonSpirit Health.
  • Emerus employs 2,050 people overall, according to a company spokesperson.
  • The typical neighborhood hospital has a staff of 50 to 60 people, depending on the facility size and community needs, said the spokesperson, Richard Bonnin.

What are the hospitals like: Not like full-service traditional hospitals, with a range of specialty departments and operating rooms and the like.

  • WellSpan’s neighborhood hospitals will have an emergency department, six to 10 emergency room bays and about 10 inpatient beds, Aquilina said, noting they will be open after typical urgent care centers close for the night.
  • “We are trying to provide the best-in-class care that improves the patient experience and provides convenient access to the right care,” he said. “Our counties are large and sometimes just having one big hospital in the middle of it is not enough for everybody.”
  • But, he added: “If it’s something that requires the use of a larger full-service hospital with operating rooms, it’s an easy connection to our larger WellSpan hospitals.”
  • WellSpan operates six traditional hospitals in Adams, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.

What’s next: WellSpan hopes to break ground on the first of the three hospitals by the end of this year, with an opening to follow in late 2024.

  • Could there be more? 
  • It’s possible, Aquilina said. But, he added: “We’re going to focus on getting these three up and running and see how our communities respond.”


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