Lancaster General Health has received variances from city regulations that will enable its planned $60 million expansion of Lancaster General Hospital to move ahead.
With little discussion and no public opposition, the Lancaster Zoning Hearing Board on Monday approved variances to building height and setback requirements.
The county’s largest health care provider wants to expand the Stauffer building on the northeast corner of the hospital at Lime and Frederick streets to eight floors, putting in 66 private rooms.
Joseph Puskar, an LGH senior vice president, said the hospital is responding to changes in the health care industry.
Procedures that had required hospital stays are now routinely done in outpatient settings and the hospital deals with more acute patients.
The health care industry is shifting to private rooms for acute patients, Puskar said. Patients in private rooms have less chance of infection, fewer complications, more room for staff to treat them and for family to visit, and privacy to discuss treatment.
Most of the hospital's patient rooms were built in the late 1950s and 1960s, he said.
The expansion won't increase the number of beds, but will allow the hospital to convert what are now semiprivate rooms to private rooms, he said.
Puskar said officials looked at its properties across the street, but decided from operating and neighborhood perspectives, keeping everything on one block was best.
The zoning board waived a city regulation requiring a setback on any floors higher than six stories and one on height restrictions. The proposed building would be 120 feet tall, which would be in line with the maximum height of other buildings on the block.
The health system's Board of Trustees is expected to decide whether to approve the project at its May meeting.
Presuming trustees give the go-ahead, the hospital would need other city approvals, including the Historical Architectural Review Board and land development plans, Puskar said.
Excavating and foundation work could begin in the fall, and construction is expected to take about two years, he said.