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Assessing Healthcare Capacity in Franklin County Amidst Population Growth Raises Concerns

Franklin County, Pennsylvania, is facing a critical situation in its healthcare system. The recent decision by WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital to stop admitting pediatric patients highlights a growing concern about the healthcare infrastructure’s ability to keep up with the county’s population growth. The hospital’s policy change, which directs pediatric patients to other hospitals for inpatient care, raises questions about the adequacy of healthcare services in the region.

Franklin County’s population stood at 155,592 in 2021, experiencing a growth of 0.412% from the previous year​​. With a median age of 41.8 years and an increasing poverty rate of 9.25%​​​​, the healthcare needs of the county are evolving and expanding. The largest industries in the county include healthcare and social assistance, employing over 11,000 people​​. This economic backdrop sets the stage for an analysis of the current healthcare facilities’ capacity and the community’s perceptions and experiences with the healthcare system.

A poll conducted by the Franklin County Free Press reflects the community’s sentiment regarding healthcare services. While 42.71% reported being satisfied with hospital care, a significant 45.66% believe an additional hospital is needed, and 43.59% think it would be beneficial​​. These figures suggest a recognition among residents of the growing healthcare demands. The experiences with emergency care also indicate room for improvement, with 28.57% facing slow or unbearable service​​. Additionally, over 10% of the population struggles to find a primary care or family physician, highlighting a potential provider shortage​​.

Data from 2020 regarding Franklin County’s healthcare facilities show the number of hospital beds, admissions, and nursing home beds per 1,000 population, as well as hospital and nursing home occupancy rates. However, these figures alone may not fully represent the current capacity or the adequacy of the healthcare system in meeting the increasing demand​​.

The combination of population growth, an aging demographic, and economic factors in Franklin County necessitates a reevaluation of healthcare capacity. While the healthcare sector is a significant employer in the region, the recent policy changes at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital and the community’s perception of healthcare services indicate a need for expansion and improvement. This might involve increasing the number of healthcare facilities, enhancing emergency care services, and addressing the shortage of primary care providers. Addressing these challenges is crucial for ensuring that the healthcare needs of Franklin County’s growing and diversifying population are adequately met.


Gregg P Davis 1926-2024

Gregg was well known as an avid outdoorsman, a passion he developed as a boy who helped provide food during the Depression.

A Fred McCleaf 1923-2024

Mr. McCleaf served in the South Pacific with the United States Navy during World War II. He owned and operated A. Fred McCleaf Plumbing & Heating most of his life.

Daily Forecast, February 24, 2024

Franklin County Forecast: In the forecast for today, we are expecting light rain, with a high of 42.03°F and a low of 27.55°F. The humidity

Who We Are

The Franklin County Free Press, established by Vicky Taylor in 2019, emerged as a beacon of local journalism for the residents of Franklin County. Under Vicky's leadership, it quickly became an essential source of news, particularly at a time when major newspaper publications were increasingly overlooking local coverage.

On January 1, 2022, the torch was passed to Nathan Neil and his firm, Neil Publishing, LLC. Neil, a local entrepreneur with multiple thriving businesses in Chambersburg, shares Vicky's fervent commitment to both the community and the world of local journalism.

Rooted in the heart of Franklin County and powered by its residents, the Franklin County Free Press continues to bridge the gap, ensuring that the local stories, events, and issues that matter most to the community remain in the spotlight.