The $72 million building addition under construction at Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg is 80 percent complete and, barring any setbacks, could be operational by early October, according to a hospital administrator.

“Construction completion is currently targeted for mid-August 2020. Once that is in place, next stages of preparation will continue including equipment and furniture installation, orientation and training of staff in the new facility, and final regulatory inspections. If all remains on schedule, patients and staff will move into the new spaces at the beginning of October,” Stacie Gaul, associate vice president of capital planning, projects and facilities, said.

PRIME is a 4-story addition to the hospital plus interior renovations to the existing structure. It’s designed to create or convert all 132 patient beds into single-occupancy rooms, including 88 brand new rooms. Quandel Construction Group, Harrisburg, is the project’s general contractor.

Contractors began work to realign the road behind the Ambulatory Surgical Center building and parking and traffic patterns will be disrupted as a result. New and existing parking lots will be paved as the project moves towards completion.

All fences, barricades, and permanent drive lanes will be restored Wednesday. Visit the PRIME update section of www.evanhospital.com for directions to navigate the area for specific destinations on campus.

From 5:30 a.m. to noon Monday and Tuesday, visitors won’t be able to drive through the campus from JPM Road to the hospital. Contractors will redirect visitors in finding their way around.

Inside the building addition, flooring in all areas is expected to be finished by the end of July, Gaul said. Patient room sliding door and frame installation has begun on all floors, she said, adding that elevators are installed and undergoing inspection.

Renovations to the interior of the existing hospital building including the Intensive Care Unit won’t begin until after the addition is finished, Gaul said.

PRIME certainly wasn’t spared from disruptions caused by the pandemic. Work at the site stopped twice — once in March at the initial onset of the state’s shutdown and again in May when three contractors tested positive for COVID-19.

As for the virus’s impact on medical operations, two patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of noon Friday at Evangelical. On June 19, the hospital marked the first time in 100 days that it had no patients for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

President and CEO Kendra Aucker shared the update, noting that staffing continues to be phased-in at both the hospital and its outpatient practices. Phasing is based on patient care volumes and operational needs, Aucker said.

“While staffing is at higher levels now than during the height of the COVID-19 response, some employees remain furloughed, are still seeing a reduction in hours, or are working remotely,” Aucker said.

The hospital on March 19 temporarily furloughed approximately 400 “non-essential” employees, or 20 percent of its workforce, due to the virus. A phased resumption of elective procedures and other hospital services began in May as workers were recalled on a staggered basis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and still present in the region. Hospital leadership is actively monitoring the situation and is prepared to respond to any surge in cases,” Aucker said.

Aucker continued her advocacy, and that of other medical practitioners and administrators, for people to wear face masks in public, wash hands regularly and thoroughly, and physically  distance at least 6 feet from others outside of immediate family.

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