A tour of the Susquehanna Tower that Susquehanna Health will be opening in March at the Williamsport Hospital reveals one certainty: Health care at the facility is about to improve dramatically.
Don't misunderstand. The performance of the doctors and nurses and everyone connected with Susquehanna Health has been first rate for years.
But the Susquehanna Tower is such a massive upgrade in conditions for physicians, nurses and patients that the health care offering will automatically be better.
Take the emergency room, for instance. It goes from a Mash unit setup for 17 curtained bays to 36 private treatment rooms, with more space for caregivers, patients and their families.
There are private waiting areas for conferencing between physicians and families, two trauma rooms for quick evaluation of critically injured patients and nurses stations strategically placed adjacent to patient rooms.
For patients needing to stay over at the hospital, the rooms are designed for care and comfort, with space and furniture made for individuals who want to spend the night with patients.
The list of improvements is much longer, but you get the idea. The hospital goes from a facility set in the 1950s to one geared to provide health care for the foreseeable future in the 21st Century.
It's easy to forget that, beyond the $150 million construction costs, this has been a seven-year odyssey that began with controversy over just where Susquehanna Health was going to be.
There were proposals by a previous leadership to put it downtown, a plan that feedback quickly told the hospital's decision makers to look elsewhere. The hospital nearly migrated to open space in eastern Lycoming County, where a new facility would have been built.
But, in the end, the new leadership and board of Susquehanna Health decided they were in the right place. What was needed was improvements to the facility, not a move. Helping with that was a city government to allow expansion of the institutional zone for expansion of the hospital's territory south from the present location.
That is a decision that has drawn predictable opposition from a few. Property acquisition always presents difficult scenarios.
But in return, a huge work force and first-class health care remains easily accessible in Williamsport, complete with a new entrance and address at 700 High St.
And inside that address, the Susquehanna Tower offers health care and facilities never before available locally. It is what residents and health care consumers deserve and it is here for decades to come.
For those who want to see firsthand what this health care renaissance looks like, public tours are being held at the new Susquehanna Tower from noon to 5 p.m. today.