Urgent care to replace Palmerton ER
St. Luke’s is transitioning the emergency room at Palmerton to an urgent care center. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
The latest major change at St. Luke’s Hospital Palmerton campus is set to take effect on July 1.
St. Luke’s is closing the emergency room in Palmerton and replacing it with a Care Now walk-in urgent care facility. In conjunction with the transition, the health care provider plans to offer expanded services at its Gnaden Huetten emergency department.
“These developments will allow St. Luke’s to offer the most cost effective and highest quality comprehensive care possible for the patients of both St. Luke’s Palmerton and Gnaden Huetten campuses,” said John Nespoli, President of St. Luke’s Gnaden Huetten and Palmerton campuses.
Employee shuffling will accompany the transition, according to St. Luke’s spokesman Sam Kennedy.
“Some Palmerton emergency department staff will be moved to the Gnaden Huetten emergency department,” he said. “There will be additional beds in the Gnaden Huetten emergency department, including beds in rooms designed to accommodate behavioral health patients, increasing from 9 to 13 beds. Other Palmerton staff will be moved to open positions elsewhere in the network.”
The move was first announced in April during a presentation at Blue Shamrock Golf Club. At the time, Nespoli said that Palmerton’s emergency department is limited in what it offers, forcing some emergency medical services to transport patients to other area facilities. That, coupled with a declining number of people using the emergency room, led to the decision to re-purpose Palmerton’s ER.
“Most physicians — in fact almost all physicians don’t want to cover multiple emergency departments in multiple counties. It’s a quality-of-life issue, and it’s a quality of care issue, too,” Nespoli said.
Kennedy said this week that Palmerton’s emergency department served hundreds of patients each month. St. Luke’s officials said not only will the urgent care facility be more affordable for residents (Nespoli explained in April that the average out-of-pocket cost will drop from $125 for emergency room visits to $25 for urgent care ones), it will be more convenient as well.
The St. Luke’s Care Now facility in Palmerton will offer call-ahead scheduling, walk-in X-ray, lab services and on-site access to common prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. In the case of a life-threatening emergency, the patient may be transported to the expanded emergency department at the Gnaden Huetten Campus.
Any additional future plans for the Palmerton campus remain unclear, though independent senior living apartments had been discussed as a potential option during the April session.
“Right now, the Palmerton campus will be devoted to the Care Now facility,” Kennedy said this week.
Elsewhere in Palmerton, St. Luke’s will be moving into the former Haja Lanes bowling alley on Delaware Avenue.
“That will open later this year,” Kennedy said. “It will contain a mix of primary care and specialty services.”