Penn State Health celebrates 'topping off' ceremony at new acute care hospital

November 08, 2019

HERSHEY, Pa. — Penn State Health today (Nov. 8) celebrated the “topping off” of Penn State Health Hampden Medical Center, the future 300,000-square-foot, three-story acute care hospital in Cumberland County.

The topping off ceremony included speakers from Penn State Health, Highmark Health and members of the Pennsylvania Legislature. Construction workers used a crane to hoist the final beam of the structure and guide it into place. A “topping off” ceremony is a long-standing tradition of builders to commemorate the completion of a building’s structure. Many topping off ceremonies include a tree, said to be due to the Native American belief that no building should be taller than a tree. The final beam for Hampden Medical Center included a pine tree; two Penn State Health banners signed by patients, staff, students, volunteers and community members; and the U.S. flag donated by VFW District 18.

Hampden Medical Center, located in the Wentworth Corporate Center at the intersection of Good Hope and Wertzville roads, will give residents of Cumberland and Perry counties, as well as the broader Harrisburg area, enhanced access to the primary and specialty care services of Penn State Health without having to make the drive to Hershey.

“Hampden Medical Center is one way we are delivering on the promise we made together with Highmark Health: Patients across the central Pennsylvania region will be within 10 minutes of Penn State Health primary care providers, 20 minutes of our specialty services, and 30 minutes of a Penn State Health acute care hospital,” said Steve Massini, CEO of Penn State Health. “We are committed to developing a regional health network that will offer a full complement of primary and specialty care services closer to where the patients we serve live and work.”

The new $200 million facility will feature 108 inpatient beds, an emergency department, physician offices, various specialty inpatient services, image and lab services, and complete medical and surgical capabilities. It will feature an open medical staff, with a plan to develop collaborative programs between Penn State Health physicians and private community providers. Hampden Medical Center will include an attached outpatient medical office building.

“In less than two years, Highmark and Penn State Health have made significant progress in creating a world-class, community-based network of health care in central Pennsylvania,” said Deb Rice-Johnson, president of Highmark Inc. “From providing grants to advance cancer research, to partnering with leading independent physicians, to establishing new facilities including Hampden Medical Center, we are committed to improving quality, access and convenience across the region. We will continue to invest in the health and well-being of our members, patients and neighbors in the years to come.”

The project will bring hundreds of well-paying jobs to the area, both during construction and for hospital operations. The construction process is expected to bring about 600 jobs; and once operational, the hospital will initially employ 650 people, with a planned increase over the first three years to about 1,000 employees.

A national search is underway for a president of Hampden Medical Center, with an appointment anticipated for early 2020.

Penn State Health is partnering with Cannon Design, Barton Malow and Alexander on this project, which is expected to be complete in summer 2021.

Additional photos from the topping off ceremony can be viewed at flickr.com

Last Updated November 11, 2019