Passers-by and visitors may notice something different about WellSpan York Hospital this week.

Work is underway on a $50 million project that will revamp the emergency department for the first time in 20 years.

Local residents will most likely notice access changes and preparation work for a new helipad, spokesman Barry Sparks said.

WellSpan on Friday announced 12 access changes, but two will mostly affect patients.

•Tower Drive, the road behind the patient care tower, will be closed to traffic.

•Terrace-level patient pickup and the WellSpan Pharmacy will not be accessible from South George Street. Motorists will have to access that level through the front parking garage.

"We will have signage up on campus to make this as easy as possible," Sparks said.

The helipad: Work on the new helipad also may be observed.

The York Hospital helipad is being relocated from the front of the emergency department to near the access road by the South George Street entrance, which will allow for better traffic flow, he said.

Work on the helipad will take up the first three to five months of construction, Sparks said.

All construction is expected to be complete by fall 2017, he said.

The 46,000-square-foot renovation will increase capacity and improve efficiencies at the 134-year-old hospital, Sparks said.


The current emergency department is designed to treat 50,000 patients annually, but more than 76,000 patients are treated there every year.

Some of those patients wait for hours until they're seen, some are ushered to beds in hallways, and sometimes a single curtain is their only privacy.

"We definitely need a number of improvements," Sparks said.

Changes: The new emergency department will improve wait times and eliminate hallway beds. It's projected to treat 88,000 patients annually by 2025.

New patient areas will be set up in the revamped department.

For example, separate areas will be created for behavioral health, pediatrics, cardiovascular, orthopedic, and for patients will minor illnesses and injuries.

"These changes and the new department will help us process and implement improvements at the hospital," Sparks said.

— Reach Candy Woodall at