Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be longer until Penn State Health opens its planned hospital in East Hempfield Township.

At a township meeting last month, representatives of the developer said the original plan was to complete construction of Penn State Health Lancaster Medical Center by summer 2022, but now it's likely to take longer.

The board unanimously approved the system's request for a one-year extension of the 180-day period to commence construction on the hospital, which will be near Route 283 along State Road and Harrisburg Pike.

Penn State Health spokeswoman Barbara Schindo said in an email last week that once construction starts it's expected to take 26 to 28 months.

"While we aren’t able to predict if the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will cause any future delays, right now we are moving forward with the project as planned," she wrote. "We expect to have more detailed information about a timeline to share in the coming weeks."

The project will include widening and realigning a short stretch of State Road/Route 722. That part of the road is expected to be closed from October through December of this year for roadwork, according to Jon Beck, the township's director of development services.

Beck said in an email that to date, the pandemic had not affected the project schedule.

The closure will be between Harrisburg Pike and Yellow Goose Road, with traffic detoured east and west on Yellow Goose Road.