LEHIGHTON, Pa. -- A bit of a surprising announcement in Carbon County. Lehigh Valley Health Network unveiled plans for a new hospital near Lehighton.
It's somewhat surprising because St.Luke's University Health Network has already announced plans for its own hospital near Lehighton. The two will be about five miles apart.
St.Luke's new facility is opening in Franklin Township. Meanwhile, Lehigh Valley Health Network will open its new hospital in Mahoning Township, creating 150 new jobs.
"Better paying jobs would be a good thing because the economy in this area has been somewhat on the downside for a lot of years now and it would be nice to see things go the other direction," Thomas Schaeffer of Lehighton said.
St.Luke's will be closing its Gnaden Huetten and Palmerton hospitals and moving those 200 employees to the new hospital in Franklin Township. It will be 130,000 square feet, three-stories tall.
Meanwhile, the new Lehigh Valley Hospital will have a full-service emergency room, surgical services, and expanded cancer care. Both hospitals will have helipads.
"I'm actually excited. Optimistic about it. We need some of the bigger name hospitals that are able to do more of the trauma things that you can't get here," Stephanie Petrucci of Lehighton said.
Lehighton Mayor Clark Ritter said having these two new hospitals just outside the borough could bring in more business to the area.
"I'm happy to see it because it's going to bring in jobs. We're kind of a betwixt and between area here," Ritter said.
Franklin Township Supervisor Jason Frey said changes will be coming to handle any increases in traffic for the new St.Luke's facility.
"We approved at our previous meeting changing the time on a light by Route 209 Road and North Harrity Road so the traffic can flow easier and better just in preparation for the new hospital coming," Frey said.
The St.Luke's project will receive a $750,000 state grant. Construction on that hospital is expected to begin in September.
Meanwhile, Lehigh Valley's hospital will break ground next spring.