St. Luke's is changing the healthcare landscape in Palmerton.
"Once done we'll have close to 30,000 square feet of health care services on this main street. Just about every physician service and outpatient service you can imagine," said John Nespoli, president of St. Luke's University Health Network's Carbon County campuses.
It's the vision St. Luke's has for the future of the town's main strip, Delaware Avenue. That vision started Monday as the ribbon was cut on the network's newest health center and CareNow facility, located at the site of the former Haja Lanes bowling alley.
"[If] their problem isn't as serous enough to be seen by an emergency department, being able to come to a CareNow and be seen in a very short period of time really is helpful for the patients," said Bill Moyer, western region president for St. Luke's University Health Network.
"Both walk-in care or appointments. So great access to care seven days a week," added Nespoli.
Specialty services like cardiology and pain management, along with five family care physicians will also live inside the building.
"In the past, people used to have to travel far for their care. We're bringing all our care local and we're very committed to that," said Moyer.
But St. Luke's officials say that's just the beginning
Next door to the CareNow, St. Luke's will be opening an outpatient physical therapy office. Down the street, a St. Luke's Carbon County Diabetes Center will eventually be built. And just a few blocks away at the site of the former Palmerton Hospital, the network is developing potential plans for independent-living housing for senior citizens.
"It wouldn't be a high-rise if we do it, it would be apartments and townhouses, maybe with some medical services, maybe some physician offices. That's where we think we might be going, not a done deal yet but trying to figure it out," said Nespoli.
It's something that would be a new venture for the non-profit network.
"That would be new to St. Luke's but if you look at it nationwide, healthcare systems are looking at this more and more. The elderly use a lot of the healthcare services in the health network and housing can be a health issue," said Nespoli.
But it would remain a part of St. Luke's ultimate goal in Carbon County.
"We see that as a quality of care issue, if you have to travel a long way, sometimes you don't get the care you need so we're just working very hard to keep care close to home," added Nespoli.
The St. Luke's CareNow facility on Delaware Avenue will be open daily starting next week.