WILKES-BARRE -- With one simple cut of a ribbon came a long-awaited moment for health care officials inside Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in Wilkes-Barre. Commonwealth Health officials showed off the two-floor, $40 million expansion project on River Street.
"This is huge for not only our hospital but our whole community. Having these 34 new intensive care beds in this facility is going to bring a level of expertise that our community deserves, and frankly, has waited for, for a long time," said Commonwealth Health CEO Cornelius Catena.
The project broke ground in 2016. Since then, more floors have been added, including a heart and vascular institute on the third floor and a helipad on the sixth floor.
Officials say more than 150 rooms have been renovated, and Wilkes-Barre General Hospital has all new, state-of-the-art equipment.
"This is an investment that we are excited to make because it does speak to the quality of work that we provide to the community, and we are excited for the work that we will continue to provide."
Officials at Commonwealth Health say the $40 million expansion project gives health officials more room, one of intensive care and one for critical care.
Juan DeRojas is the chairman of the Department of Surgery at Commonwealth Health. He's worked at the hospital more than 25 years and says the expansion project literally gives him more room to operate.
"Sometimes we may have six, eight people in a room and before it was only standing-room only, so it kind of hindered your performance, so this is 100 percent better," Dr. DeRojas said.
People in downtown Wilkes-Barre were excited to know that the hospital was putting this type of investment in the community.
"You got to put some money to keep these people going, get them straightened out and help them out. They need it here," said John Tierney.
"All three of our kids were born there and if more people can take advantage of that, then that's good for everyone," said Dan Werner.
Officials expect the new expanded Wilkes-Barre General Hospital to be fully running by next month.