St. Luke’s Anderson Campus in Easton, Pa., is a brand-new, 100-bed facility that just opened in November 2011. A member of the St. Luke’s University Health Network, St. Luke’s Anderson is the first new non-profit, acute-care, non-replacement hospital in Pennsylvania in 40 years.
In its first six months of operation, its ER volume was twice what had been projected, while inpatient admissions were 50 percent greater than expected.
“It’s been a great experience recruiting the staff and hiring people who fit the St. Luke’s culture,” Edward Nawrocki, president, said. “What’s been very rewarding is working with 500 people to create a brand-new culture on a campus that our patients really like and in an environment that they really appreciate. That’s been very enriching.”
Nawrocki has been president of St. Luke’s Anderson since the hospital was first announced in February 2011. He was president of St. Luke’s Quakertown Hospital for seven years before accepting the helm at Anderson Campus and has held a variety of leadership positions within the St. Luke’s Network since 1999. Nawrocki brings with him an industrial-engineering background that has been well-served in various health systems throughout his career, including the University of Wisconsin health system, the Sentara Health System in Virginia, and the University of Pennsylvania health system in Philadelphia.
A $175-million investment
Opening a brand-new hospital has many pros and cons, of course. Perhaps the nicest aspect, however, is the luxury of newness, both with equipment and with culture.
The St. Luke’s University Health Network invested $175 million in the Anderson Campus project, with $25-$30 million alone invested in equipment for the campus, including the latest GE radiology testing equipment, a brand-new MRI 120-slice CT scanner, and Varian’s newest TrueBeam Linear Accelerator.
Among the challenges the hospital faces as a new organization, Nawrocki cited growth as the primary one. There are certain specialists St. Luke’s Anderson is trying to recruit that are harder to attract than one may think, especially since the lead time for hiring a physician is 12 to 18 months from recruitment to inclusion on the medical staff. Nawrocki said managing this process can be difficult at times.
Furthermore, balancing resources with the ER and inpatient/outpatient demands can also be a daunting task. Nawrocki said St. Luke’s Anderson ensures the needs of the patients and staff in the emergency department are met. Thankfully, he added, being part of a larger system means the outpatient capacity can be absorbed at other St. Luke’s locations.
St. Luke’s Anderson is already expanding the hospital, doing additional construction on the inpatient side so they can handle the unexpected demands. The board is also researching options to create space for additional capacity.
Establishing a foundation for the future
Nawrocki sees great opportunities in opening a brand-new hospital. Instead of having to adjust a new team to fit into a previous culture, he and his team are able to establish the kind of foundation and culture for the hospital’s future that they envision.
For example, from the beginning, they’ve upgraded the computer systems, largely McKesson, to comply with meaningful use. They’ve also been able to introduce significant initiatives around medication management.
“When you have a new employee base to work with you can spend a lot of time on educating them about a culture of patient safety,” Nawrocki said. “We’ve spent a lot of time in our orientation to teach and implement best practices, including how to properly report incidents, track safety-related trends and try to resolve issues before they become problems.”
Nawrocki’s overarching goal is to make the Anderson Campus a destination for more than just healthcare.
For example, one initiative involves creating walking paths on the hospital’s 500-acre property, along with a pond, a butterfly garden, and a rose garden. Nawrocki wants the hospital, the Cancer Center, and the Medical Office Building on the Anderson Campus to be a place where the community can come to experience nature and tranquility.
“We’re trying to make this location more than just a hospital,” he said.
Community is important
St. Luke’s Anderson is currently serving as an international show site for GE radiology equipment and for Knoll, a local furniture company. The construction of the campus also utilized many local companies to keep much of the financial investment in the local economy.
According to Nawrocki, the response from the community has been nothing short of incredible. People love the design, he said, which is rewarding, since those involved with the planning took pains to make the facility attractive both inside and outside. The community also likes how accessible it is, being located near key thoroughfares in the Lehigh Valley.
“People are happy that we’re here,” Nawrocki observed.
Over the next three to five years, he hopes to solidify that reputation, and he hopes that St. Luke’s Anderson will earn a reputation for quality, patient safety, and growing services and programs.
“With 500 acres, this is going to be a significant healthcare site for the next several decades to come,” he stated.
Nawrocki added that a brand-new facility offers a significant opportunity to make a difference through advanced technology and patient-centered customer service, something that may have been harder to achieve with an existing hospital.
“From the day we opened, we have offered high level care and services to patients and visitors, providing them with more of a human experience as opposed to a healthcare experience.”
-by Pete Fernbaugh