THARPTOWN - Geisinger Health System saw a need to expand its Shamokin campus, and with a large elderly population in lower Northumberland County an ophthalmology clinic made sense.

A retina specialist and a glaucoma specialist will move into a 4,000-square-foot addition at Geisinger Specialty Care-Shamokin building, located just next to the century-old hospital in Coal Township.

"Many of our patients come from Mount Carmel, Kulpmont, Paxinos, Trevorton and Shamokin areas. Geisinger wants to provide specialty care close to where the patient lives. The Shamokin area has a large number of elderly patients and having services convenient to their needs is vitally important," Michael Ferlazzo, a Geisinger spokesman, said in an email.

The Danville-based health provider announced earlier this month a $1.2 million expansion of the specialty care building. The addition was approved in 2012, and a contract awarded to R.S. Mowery and Sons Inc., Carlisle. Ground was broken in January, and the addition is expected to be completed in June.

The opthalmology clinic are among other specialty services offered at the clinic.

"There was the need to expand our current location in Shamokin so we could start sending additional specialists to this practice," Ferlazzo wrote.

"One of the commitments made by Geisinger to the local community was to enhance programs and services. This investment is just one of a number of capital investments in the G-SACH campus since the merger was completed in January 2012."

Geisinger took over operation of the coal region hospital last year, about 14 months after a merger was announced.

The specialty care expansion will create more exam rooms, as well as additional diagnostic and updated equipment such as retinal lasers, Fundus cameras and Fluorescein angiography.

Additional staff at the Shamokin practice will include two registered nurses, an ophthalmic photographer, ophthalmology technician and front desk receptionist.

The ophthalmology clinic is not unique to the G-SACH campus as there are other ophthalmology services within the Geisinger system, Ferlazzo said. What it does offer is convenience and parking for local patients.