Geisinger to spend $24 million to update and add health care facilities in Centre County

Geisinger Authority plans to invest $1 billion to improve its facilities across its entire region, which includes eight Pennsylvania counties and one in New Jersey. In Centre County, Geisinger estimates allocating $24 million to update, renovate and possibly build new locations in Bellefonte, State College and Port Matilda.

The Centre County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve the finance plan after a public hearing Tuesday, with the hope that Geisinger will invest in ways that benefit residents’ health, safety and welfare.

Geisinger is not to exceed $1 billion in spending, according to its plan. Most of the funds came from refinancing and will be allocated to equipment updates, said Andy Wargo, Geisinger lead treasury analyst. An estimated $200 million in new money will be used for construction, renovations, equipment and software updates.

Geisinger Health System has locations throughout Centre County, employs 590 residents, and 665 of its employees work within the county. In 2018, almost 1,1000 residents received inpatient treatment through Geisinger, and more than 53,600 residents were seen at a Geisinger facility, Wargo said.

“Out of your population, I believe ... one-third of all Centre County residents have been seen by Geisinger last year,” Wargo said.

Geisinger estimates $24 million will be spent to update and renovate its Centre County locations, but Wargo said that number could change.

A project for upgrades to a primary care facility at Scenery Park is in the design phase. Geisinger is considering a new location in Port Matilda and is looking to build a new clinic facility in Bellefonte, but the site location has not been determined. Geisinger plans to renovate some of its facilities and a psychiatric and addiction facility in State College.

Commissioner Mark Higgins said he hopes Geisinger will find a way to build a Fresh Food Farmacy in Centre County where local food can be purchased and given to patients. Commissioner Steve Dershem said he is happy the company has decided to support health care in the area and thinks Geisinger’s investments will pay for themselves in the future.

“I think it’s a testament to the increasing scope of medical and health care costs in our region and the need for those but also the population growth in our region,” board Chairman Michael Pipe said.

Depending on the market, Wargo said he expects Geisinger will spend all of its funds within one to two years.

Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.