CLARION – Plans for a new two-story, 17,048-square-foot medical building in Monroe Township took another step forward last Wednesday night with preliminary approval by the Clarion County Planning Commission of a land development application.

Phase One of the Penn Highlands Healthcare project would also include a paved parking lot with 116 parking spaces that could also be used by a Phase Two building. The project will be built in Monroe Township along Route 68 adjacent to Pizza Hut on the top of the hill that once housed the C&K Company.

Steve Fontaine, CEO of Penn Highlands Healthcare, discussed plans for Clarion last November at the 100th-anniversary celebration of Brookville Hospital, now known as Penn Highlands Brookville. Penn Highlands Health last year announced a massive $111 million system Master Facilities Plan that includes Clarion.

The new Clarion building will house a QCare walk-in clinic with ancillary services, such as imaging and lab, according to information previously released by Penn Highlands. Primary and specialty care super clinics will house multiple providers. This building also will be able to support virtual care to the extent that it could be called a virtual hospital. Using innovative technology, virtual clinics will allow specialty providers to reach out and see patients and provide care at any time from multiple locations. This will minimize the need for patients in the Clarion region to travel for specialty care.

Phase Two proposes the future addition of an approximate 10,000-square-foot medical office building and a new paved access drive with a 24-foot cart-way connecting the northerly end of the parking lot to the east side of Route 68.

Phase One would utilize the existing Holiday Inn Road to enter the project.

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Penn Highlands purchased two parcels of land in 2016. They included a 5.21-acre parcel of land from Keith A. Chernicky and another 0.961-acre parcel of land from Klingensmith Properties.

The general area for the project includes many existing health care providers, including Clarion Hospital now linked with Butler Hospital, VA Outpatient Clinic, Primary Health Care, UPMC Urgent Care, UPMC physician offices, and Clarion LIFE Northwest PA Center for qualifying seniors age 55 and over.

With the five hospitals of Penn Highlands Healthcare (Penn Highlands Brookville, Penn Highlands Clearfield, Penn Highlands DuBois, Penn Highlands Elk and Penn Highlands Huntingdon) and the 12-county region it serves, Penn Highlands said it strives to provide exceptional quality, safety and service.

In other business, the commission granted final approval for two 1,440-square-foot warehouse and building additions to Marty Sanders in Salem Township and the Knox United Methodist Church in Beaver Township.

Planning Commission members attending included Keith Decker, Hugh Henry, Joseph A. Burns Jr., Eugene E. Metcalf and Roger M. Nulph. Also attending were Director Kristi Amato, Planning Assistant Steve Ketner and County Engineer Kevin Reichard.

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