More than five years ago, Albert Einstein Healthcare Network announced that it planned to partner with Montgomery Hospital Medical Center to build a replacement hospital outside Norristown.
Finally, after years of zoning meetings and controversy, an assortment of gold construction vehicles is kicking up red dust on an 84-acre tract in East Norriton.
The official groundbreaking for the $355 million, 146-bed, 363,000-square-foot medical center on Germantown Pike near North Whitehall Road is Monday. While many hospitals in the region have expanded in recent years, Einstein says the new facility, which will replace Montgomery in September 2012, is the first new hospital to be built in Southeastern Pennsylvania in at least a decade. The complex also will include a 75,000-square-foot office building and is designed to be easy to expand.
The idea of building a new hospital was hatched in happier economic times, but leaders at the two hospitals still think that the growing, aging suburban population in central Montgomery County can sustain a new hospital even if the sour economy depresses demand and health reform lowers insurance payments.
"I've been around long enough to know a little about measured risk, and I think this is very measured, very carefully thought out," said Barry Freedman, president and chief executive officer of North Philadelphia-based Einstein. He said he was "excited and confident this is going to work."