St. Luke’s Proposes New Hospital in Carbon County

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP -- St. Luke's University Health Network is no stranger to the Carbon County area.

Last year, St. Luke's merged with Blue Mountain Health System and took over two hospitals: Gnaden Huetten in Lehighton and Palmerton Hospital.

But now, hospital administrators are looking to expand even more by building a brand-new hospital on Harrity Road outside Lehighton.

"I think it's good for the community. There's not a whole lot of businesses in Franklin and it should generate some money and tax revenue and stuff for the township," said William Doward, Franklin Township.

St. Luke's submitted plans to Franklin Township supervisors last week.

The 80-bed building would look similar to the one being built near Orwigsburg in Schuylkill County.

"I hope it works out for them because I think it's a really good idea," said Fern Miller, Franklin Township.

Fern Miller runs Miller's Country Store just across from where the hospital could potentially be built. She thinks having a hospital close by will help her business.

"We probably would be getting a lot of business and I think we will. It will help our business during the winter because during the winter we aren't that busy," said Miller.

Though no final decisions have been made, hospital administrators say part of the plans include looking into what will be done with the two hospitals they already run in the county.

Residents who live by St. Luke's Gnaden Huetten hope the facilities remain open and just offer different services.

"There's been all talk about different things that will happen to the different buildings and I would like to see it stay and be used as something," said William Lester, Lehighton.

St. Luke's is expected to make a decision on construction next year.