Zoning approval sought for new medical clinic in Wilkes-Barre

WILKES-BARRE — The upcoming closure of its West Side clinic has accelerated plans for the Wright Center for Community Health to open a downtown facility in property it has agreed to purchase from King’s College.

The Wilkes-Barre Zoning Hearing Board has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 28 on the Wright Center’s application to establish a medical clinic at 169 N. Pennsylvania Ave.

The October 31 closure of Commonwealth Health’s first hospital in Kingston has heightened the urgency of granting zoning approval and the need for the facility, underpinned in demand by unflattering descriptions of the health of individuals in the whole of Wilkes-Barre County and Luzerne.

The county has more deaths than the state average from cancer, heart disease, diabetes and drug overdoses, according to the app. Additionally, Wilkes-Barre has a higher average of people without health insurance than the state and more than double the rate of people living in poverty.

“The primary care clinic proposed by TWCCH would provide a one-stop-shop for individuals and families in Luzerne County” to access affordable primary care, dental care, nutrition, infectious disease, behavioral health, Addiction Medicine and Women’s Health Services, says the app.

The application also stated that the clinic would provide “a clinical learning environment for primary care physicians in residence as well as interprofessional learners.” It is estimated that the clinic will create 50 new jobs in the city and another 200 in the future.

The application further stated that the clinic will “increase access to care for the community, directly benefiting the community and residents of the town of Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas.” The proposed facility would be located a short distance from the nonprofit Volunteers in Medicine clinic at 190 N. Pennsylvania Ave.

In response to a Wednesday inquiry into the clinic located on its property, King’s said it “is unable to provide information on the identified transaction.”

The sale price has been blacked out in the sales contract contained in the zoning application. King’s purchased the property from Highmark Inc. in June 2019 for $1,599,950.

Although it did not name the school, the Wright Center also said in an email that it “is delighted to be in the final stages of purchasing a property within walking distance of the downtown Wilkes-Barre”.

“The vision for this project exemplifies the commitment of the Wright Centers for Community Health and Higher Medical Education to deepen our investment in the public health and well-being of Luzerne County,” the Wright Center said. Additional information would be shared as the purchase of the property progressed.

Contact Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.