By Holly Swanson
Credit: Provided by Geisinger
When Wendy Oakes made the decision to return to State College from San Francisco, she knew what to expect. Her college years at Penn State and frequent return trips to Happy Valley gave her a taste of the year-round festivals, sporting events, music and art productions and plenty of restaurant options.
With new state-of-the-art facilities and specialty health providers moving into the Happy Valley, access to advanced, highly skilled medical care will be just minutes away from residents’ homes.
But as she began her second career, now as the associate director in Penn State’s Center of Excellence in Industrial Biotechnology, she had only one slight hesitation when talking up her move to colleagues — the lack of high-quality medical subspecialties in the area.
“For decades, I had access to some of the best medical facilities in the country, which are commonly located in major metropolitan areas,” Oakes said. “I was concerned mostly for my mother, who was moving to State College with me. She was, at the time, an 82-year-old cancer survivor in need of specific treatment options for the health challenges we encounter as we age. I wanted to feel confident that State College had those options for Mom, without needing to take her to Philadelphia or PIttsburgh for treatment.”
While the Happy Valley’s medical professionals have provided quality and compassionate health care to its residents for decades, the growing, as well as aging, population is in need of access to the latest, cutting-edge technologies and novel treatments that peers receive in larger cities. In short, residents need more readily available health care options closer to home.
Fortunately for State College and the surrounding communities, some of Pennsylvania’s largest and most advanced medical providers are seeing this challenge as an opportunity. To say the region is experiencing a health care boom would be an understatement. With new state-of-the-art facilities and specialty health providers moving into the Happy Valley, access to advanced, highly skilled medical care will be just minutes away from residents’ homes.
Penn Highlands plans big expansion
While Penn Highlands’ presence in Centre County has been recognizable for several years by way of its laboratory and specialty outpatient services, the health care system with eight hospitals located to the west of Happy Valley has started construction on a new, freestanding hospital. The facility will focus primarily on outpatient treatment, such as minimally invasive surgeries and endoscopies, but will also offer screening, imaging and diagnosis services.
Also located within the 82,000-square-foot hospital and 32,000-square-foot medical offices will be 18 inpatient beds and a trauma and emergency center, as well as medical providers including family medicine, lung and heart specialties, OB/GYN care and imaging services. A branch of the Penn Highlands Hahne Cancer Center will also be housed in the new building, providing access to the program’s oncology and immunotherapy treatment services.
The $70 million project promises to be patient-focused, while providing some of the most technologically advanced care in the area.
Penn State Health continues its growth
After establishing itself as a health care leader in the region, Penn State Health continues to offer research-driven and patient-centered care for all residents. As part of the world-renowned Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine, the providers at the eight State College locations are teaching and training the next generation of doctors, nurses and health professionals.
In addition to primary care and a wide variety of specialty care options for adults, Penn State Health offers several pediatric specialties, including dermatology, orthopedics, cardiology and surgery follow-up and post-procedure care, all within the county.
As services continue to grow in the region, Penn State Health is actively recruiting doctors and nurses, as well as support staff, for its care teams. The newest offering comes from the vascular team at Penn State Health. The team will begin performing TransCarotid Artery Revascularization(TCAR) procedures for carotid artery blockages under the leadership of Gene Simoni, M.D. In the past, patients would need to travel out of town for this procedure, but now can remain close to home while still receiving world-class health care.
Kirk Thomas, chief administrative officer of the Geisinger Western Region. Credit: Provided by Geisinger
Geisinger expands care throughout Happy Valley
While Geisinger has been a long-standing provider of health care to Happy Valley, recent expansions are allowing it to provide services to new populations, with continued growth expected for the next few years. The opening of Geisinger 65 Forward serves patients 65 and older who have Geisinger Gold Medicare. The center provides services such as on-site laboratory testing, imaging and mental health treatment, as well as social and educational activities like yoga and card games. Geisinger 65 Forward also provides senior-focused primary care for patients, offering longer appointment times to help manage and meet the demands of chronic health conditions.
“Geisinger 65 Forward State College has been very positively received since we opened our doors to the local community about one year ago,” said Kirk Thomas, chief administrative officer, Geisinger Western Region. “Dr. Scott Sulman and Dr. Susan Holencik have been working to provide the best care to our patients and community.”
“Everything is under one roof in a calm, relaxing environment that feels more like a spa than a clinic,” Thomas said. “We see patients coming in to see their doctor and staying to interact with peers, while enjoying the different offerings of 65 Forward.”
Meanwhile, Geisinger’s Scenery Park primary care offices are expanding to a new 15,000 square-foot facility. The new building will be located right across the street from the current facility and is now under construction.
“Meeting the needs of the Centre County community remains a priority for Geisinger,” Thomas said. “We continue to plan, recruit and grow our programs and services both in primary care and specialty areas. We’re making better health easier for our friends, family and neighbors right here in Centre County.”
While the Happy Valley’s medical professionals have provided quality and compassionate health care to its residents for decades, the growing, as well as aging, population is in need of access to the latest, cutting-edge technologies and novel treatments that peers receive in larger cities.
Mount Nittany Health grows into Toftrees Space
After several construction projects in recent years that expanded the Mount Nittany Medical Center building, Mount Nittany Health will soon begin construction in the planned Toftrees West area. This outpatient medical facility will encompass more than 125,000 square feet of space spread across four floors. The site was chosen specifically for the land’s potential for future growth and is part of a long-term vision to include housing developments, retail space and office buildings.
In addition to dedicated physician space, the new Mount Nittany Health building will include rehab facilities, diagnostic services, labs and procedure rooms.