DuBOIS — Penn Highlands Healthcare announced Friday a $111 million master facilities plan that will create approximately 400 jobs across the region over the next three years.

“It is the largest capital improvement project since the inception of Penn Highlands Healthcare,” PHH Business Development Officer Greg Bauer said at a news conference Friday in DuBois.

The eight major expansion and renovation projects unveiled Friday are designed to enhance access to critical services and advanced care for the residents in the region. More than 50 percent of the projects will be located in DuBois, officials said.

“The projects will advance the delivery of healthcare services for our patients, create hundreds of new jobs and drive continued economic growth for this region,” Bauer said.

To support these building efforts, Penn Highlands Healthcare will recruit approximately 100 additional physicians and advanced practice providers and more than 300 professional staff members in the nursing and support services fields.

“The hospitals of Penn Highlands Healthcare have been serving our communities for more than 100 years. As we look toward the future and determine how we can best meet our region’s needs, we are thrilled to share our vision to grow our footprint and further build our system to provide patients with the care and services they deserve,” said Steven M. Fontaine, chief executive officer of Penn Highlands Healthcare. “The projects collectively focus on delivering the right care in the right setting as we continue to respond to the changing healthcare landscape.”

The plan, to be implemented over the next three years, will modernize, improve and expand upon the services Penn Highlands Healthcare offers patients at its four hospital campuses and numerous outpatient facilities in the 12-county region it serves.

The projects include:

  • Expansion and renovation of the Penn Highlands DuBois East behavioral health facility;
  • A new five-story annex at Penn Highlands DuBois West;
  • A new Emergency Department that will serve as a Level III trauma center;
  • A new three-story building housing Centers of Excellence in orthopedics, pediatrics and women’s health;
  • Emergency Department renovations at Penn Highlands Clearfield;
  • A new three-story Brookville Medical Office Building;
  • Renovations at Pinecrest Manor
  • A new two-story Clarion Outpatient Facility.

With the exception of PH Elk, which modernized most of its acute care hospital in 2001 and 2012, Fontaine said PHH has a collection of older facilities built in the 1960, 1970 and 1980s.

“Over time you need to improve your facility to keep up with the competition and with technology,” Fontaine said. “That’s one of the premises behind the construction strategy.”

Other issues were capacity constraints because of the growing need of healthcare in this region, particularly at DuBois, Fontaine said.

“We’ve had our patients being diverted from the hub hospital, not intentionally, but because of the lack of beds, the lack of availability to grow to accommodate the ongoing needs of the community to grow,” Fontaine said.

Of course, PH always wants to expand upon its current services and then looks at new services of trauma, drug/alcohol services and the outpatient facility in Clarion, Fontaine said.

Competitors around PHH are developing modern, user-friendly facilities “so it behooves us to do those same type of things,” Fontaine said.

The PHH Executive Team, along with hospital presidents, have engaged the services of KTH Architects to facilitate the master facility planning process, Fontaine said. Bi-weekly meetings were held over the last six months to guide this process.

The Master Facilities Plan represents a $111 million investment across the region. The projects are to be funded through a combination of operating revenues, bond financing and charitable donations.

“These projects are a true testament to our dedication to all those who make up our communities, from our patients to our medical staff and employees,” said Karin R. Pfingstler, Penn Highlands Healthcare’s system director of Fund Development. “We are a tightknit region and the generosity of grateful patients, families and community partners has undoubtedly been a significant part of our history. It’s this continued support that will shape our future and help us grow a robust health system that will serve generations to come.”

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