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Mahoning planners debate need for LVHN hospital

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    Nathan Oiler, of RKR Hess Associates, presents plans for the proposed Lehigh Valley Health Network campus in Mahoning Township at a September meeting. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS

Published October 16. 2019 12:15PM

 

The Mahoning Township Planning Commission has recommended supervisors reject Lehigh Valley Health Network’s conditional use application for its proposed hospital off Route 443.

Lehigh Valley Health Network met with supervisors last month to discuss plans to build the 89,000-square-foot facility in Mahoning. The hospital plans to open in 2021.

But a planning official said Tuesday that he doesn’t see the need for a hospital in Mahoning, especially with St. Luke’s Health Network’s presence in Lehighton, Palmerton and — in the next few years — Franklin Township.

“I just don’t see the need for all these hospitals all of a sudden, other than it’s an ego thing,” Bruce Steigerwalt, planning commission member and Mahoning supervisor, said. “A race between your facility and St. Luke’s, that’s all I see this as.”

Being a not-for-profit, LVHN’s Mahoning campus wouldn’t provide the township with any property tax, commission members pointed out. They also cited increased traffic as a concern.

The 35 acres of farmland along the busy highway where LVHN hopes to build its future facility is zoned for commercial use and tailored toward retail spaces, Robert Slaw, another commission member and Mahoning supervisor, said.

Seeing as it’s not included on the township’s list of approved uses for that lot, a hospital is subjected to the conditional application process. LVHN submitted its application earlier this month.

In a deposition-like presentation, attorney Timothy Siegfried, representing LVHN, called on network officials and engineers associated with the project to give testimony showing the hospital would meet Mahoning’s conditional use requirements. Siegfried called on Terry Purcell, vice president of market development at LVHN and future president of its anticipated Carbon facility, to speak first.

In his address to the commission, Purcell said 30% of Carbon residents leave the county for health care. He added that the new hospital would staff 150, as well as bring in specialized physicians — a claim Steigerwalt pushed back on.

“Where are the doctors going to come from?” Steigerwalt asked.

“They can’t staff the facilities they have,” he said of local hospitals.

Purcell maintained that demand for additional care services exists in Carbon.

“The need is in the county,” he said.

The commission hoped to table the matter due to two absent members, but with a public hearing on the prospective hospital scheduled for Nov. 18, the decision of whether or not to recommend approval for LVHN’s conditional use application had to be made that night, according to Thomas Nanovic, township solicitor.

As a result, Steigerwalt and Slaw, alongside fellow member Patricia Snyder, suggested Mahoning supervisors deny it.

“I can understand that it’s nice having a hospital close,” Slaw said when casting his vote. “I’m not sure if the cons and pros outweigh each other, and for that reason, I’m thinking that it’s not an appropriate location … It’s a valuable asset. I would like to see it somewhere else.”

Supervisors will make their determination at the November hearing, which begins at 6 p.m.

 

Comments
Mahoning township officials do not want a KFC in the township why would they want a hospital. As for retail space we already have enough stores. 443 is a nightmare, with no police policing the area.
Well, I got a question. I had Highmark health insurance which I could only use LVHN. So I live in Lehighton & need to go to the hospital, so I need to travel to either Allentown, Bethlehem or Hazleton. If I go to St Lukes, it's considered out of network, which costs me more money.
So I guess building more houses & putting more students in the area school district is a better decision. Not to mention, more jobs, in the long run.
Don't forget we used to have 2 hospitals and no one complained about that!!
Also with the possible influx of people moving to Carbon County, we need 2 hospitals.
Just a reminder, Lehigh Township had a list of demands of before they approved Walmart and guess what NO WALMART!!
Be careful for what you wish for..
I agree with Blueranger; I am in a similar situation also.........................................
That driving down to the Lehigh valley in the winter could be eliminated.

The bottom line....................................It's called Competition

ie if you want Choices, and who doesn't, ; then let the "market place" decide.
Here we go again another establishment under fire in SHOOT EM DOWN MAHONING!! They don't see the need so no one else should need it either!!!! seems that planning commission board members names are also board of supervisors names!!!! COINCIDENCE ??? May be time for some change!
Not all supervisors agree with statements of "no hospital", there are a couple of decent supervisors that would like to see progress with the hospital. Why not wait and see how they vote.

Bruce Steigerwalt is a legend in his own mind. Typical Mahoning Valley thinking. Do you actually think a hospital system the size of Lehigh Valley would invest in a multi million project without research to see if there is a need for their service?
Little minds making big decisions. Pathetic. Time to get new people in there.
There are some financial issues with the Police Department, the township cant keep up with the overtime salaries, most of the budget goes to the police department.
The comment Mr Slaw made about the appropriate location. Could his no vote be that the property in question connects with his property ?? Can you say conflict of interest ?? I can...Also it was stated that the township will lose tax money. Do your research, the property is enrolled in clean and green. The amount the township receives is less than $100 . When LVHN hires up to 150 employees, the township will receive a tax of $51 from each employee. That's $7650 . That's a win win for the township. Remember election time is just around the corner. Get out and make your voice be heard..
This is needed in our community. My husband has leukemia and having a facility near that accepts our insurance and has a financial assistance program to assist with the higher out of pocket expense would help many in our area. It will also help the community members on medical assistance that don’t have transportation means to get to the Lehigh Valley area for more specialized care. Carbon and Schuylkill counties are in need of more health care services. Carbon County needs change in a lot of areas with local and government officials.
Please stop electing Bruce Steigerwalt he has been holding the Township back for years. He and corrupt Carl Faust have Been keeping us down for years. There could be a nice industrial park in the packerton yards bringing good paying jobs but these clowns shoot everything down.
The day these undereducated hillbilly supervisors are voted out is the day Carbon County and Mahoning Township can move forward. Such a disgrace!!!!
Lehigh Valley Hospital is the best. Best up to date education for their employees, and very high standards all around. They are not perfect, but come damn close.
Until St Luke's took over there were 2 hospitals in Carbon County. That was ok then, but it's not ok now, or 2 years from now? What will the Planning Commission/Supervisors think once Gnaden Huetten is turned into a psych hospital after the new St Luke's facility is built and you have to drive out to the turnpike to get to an ER? Will there be some increased traffic? Sure, but that will also be balanced by the 150 people that are staying local and not driving to Allentown to work everyday.
And where do you think the township is going to put the extra road traffic for another hospital at? That road is already a nightmare! Maybe they need to figure that issue out first before thinking that area can handle anymore businesses along that road. People are still going to have to travel for things like maternity because both health care facilities can manage to get a maternity ward in either of them so is it a need or is it them just following each other around?
There is a huge need for LVHN! St Luke's offers nothing but incompetence. Mahoning have no problem providing us with a strip of Fast Food Death Dealers. This is the problem with local government, any slack jawed republican redneck yutz can get elected. No education, no purpose, no civics knowledge and zero concern for taxpayers. A hospital will cost them nothing more than putting their "x" on some paperwork. Too mentally taxing I guess. Keep sucking down whoppers Mahoning, clog those blood vessels to your brains.
Why not LVHN in Mahoning Twp. No everyone goes to St. Luke's and my insurance is Highmark and I go to LVHN and if I don't have to travel to Allentown or further, it would be more convenient. Mahoning Twp. needs to wake up help get jobs in our area instead of always pushing businesses away.
The proposal is for a tiny hospital, LVHN has no intention on keeping care local. This is just a way-station to send everyone to Allentown with an added ambulance charge.
Agree with so many others above. This town is stalled in 1970. After 443 gets fixed- if it ever does, we need the new LVHN hospital, as well as better restaurant choice There is no place in town for breakfast besides the Beacon, and the Boulevard stops breakfast by 11. We also need decent Mexican food, as well as maybe a Miller's Ale House or other restaurants with known names, like Chili's. As far as in town itself.... well that's another rant, I guess. But with some love and care and a few prime investments, this town could be turned into another quaint little tourist town. We should maybe invite the train to come here -
This stinks to high hell,pay off?the traffic, gimme a break, the traffic issue starts at the bridge and slows down at the proposed site..and increased traffic 4 healthcare choices is less important than food choices..? simply crazy and insane..time to get these incompetent people out..this is protest worthy..its truly unbelievable ... something is just not right here..
What is wrong with the leaders of our communities??? Do they come from Jim Thorpe?! We need this hospital because we need jobs!!!!! We have an ageing population, crap jobs and a drug crisis. I rest my case. Vote Krystal Method for Mahoning Township Supervisor!
Are these Supervisors Insane? Honestly people need to go to this meeting in droves an Protest.
I can't stand St Lukes! They are a Monopoly in the area not a great hospital! But what peeves me off is I caught them years ago checking my credit report when I get blood work at their Coaldale site and Jim Thorpe Urgent Care. When I complained to them, they gave me so many excuses. 1. We do it in case a person needs help applying for aid and is to embarrassed to ask. When I said I have great Insurance and do not need aid and told them they never Stated in any way paper form or word that they were checking my credit . They said they would never do it again and it would stop. I got a letter from St Lukes stating this.
Well low and behold it continued. They use a 3rd party who does a Soft check on your credit when you get blood work or any test.
I do not want to deal with this company Ever Ever . But I have no choices here in this area now. They took over.
All I can say is Please contact LV and ask them to bring a Maternity Ward to this Hospital and that may change the dimwits mind.
Lehigh Valley's Hospital would be more Centralized in Mahoning Valley verses St Lukes new Hospital by Beltzville. There is no way I will even go all the way over toward the Turnpike to a Hospital. I can see some upscale restaurants coming if LV hospital came to the Mahoning Valley. Would love Red Robbins.

As for Packerton Yard. I think that area would have been better served if a Museum was built there with lots of outlet shops and additional parking for events for the main downtown.

Do a Times News search on the Packerton Yards. You will see the idiocracy starts with the
County Commisioners and moves right along down to some boroughs and townships. There should be term limits for every elected position. Without them you will have nothing but greed and corruption. Nothstein doesn't get elected because he's done a good job. He gets elected because of his name. I don't even know who would elect Tom Gerhard either. He's an arrogant prick. Anyone that interrupts my conversation outside my polling place without acknowledging my presence thinking he's getting some lady's vote can grab a spoon and eat the chocolate from my turd cutter. Now he's trying to run as a write in candidate? See ya Tom!
Mr. Steigerwalt’s comments speak to his lack of knowledge of the current healthcare environment. Different networks accept different insurance. It is unrealistic and unfair to the public to restrict access to one provider for care. Competition is healthy and necessary not only to improve quality of care but also reduce cost. Mahoning Township along the 443 corridor is the ideal location for LVHN to build a hospital. It would provide access to care for the Mahoning Valley through Tamaqua and the Coal Regions. This could have and should have been done 30 years ago.

Mr. Slaw‘a comments are surprisingly shortsighted. What would be a better location? Water and Sewage is already there. Furthermore, there are plenty of existing plots zoned commercial surrounding the land that could be developed to allow for office building construction which would provide much needed tax revenue. The infrastructure is already there and the traffic dilemma will improve when 443 goes to 3 lanes.

When Coordinated Health wanted to go in on the same plot of land, they rejected it because of height restrictions of the building. They are horribly inconsistent.

The township has so much potential. It’s a shame that the leadership has a naysayer attitude when it comes to responsible development opportunities like this. The people of Mahoning Township need this and should raise their collective voice!

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