COAL TOWNSHIP - A $1.2 million ophthalmology clinic is being constructed on the campus of Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital.

Ground was broken Jan. 28 for the 4,000-square-foot addition to the Geisinger Specialty Care-Shamokin building.

The addition, the first at the specialty care building since 2007, is expected to be completed in June.

"The new clinic will expand facilities for the diagnoses and treatment of eye disorders and diseases including cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye and uveitis, corneal disease, retina disease, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy," according to a press release issued Wednesday.

The investment comes just more than one year after the century-old hospital in Coal Township began operating under Geisinger Health System.

A merger had been discussed at Shamokin Area Community Hospital since 2007 as part of its long-term plans. Formal talks with Geisinger began in 2009. The merger was announced in November 2010, and in July 2011 it was approved by the state.

On New Year's Day 2012, Shamokin Area Community Hospital officially became a campus of Geisinger.

It wasn't the last acquisition by the health care system. Just six months later, on July 1, 2012, Bloomsburg Hospital became a Geisinger campus.

And like Shamokin Area Community Hospital did several years ago, Lewistown Hospital entered an exploratory non-binding agreement with Geisinger in December. Whether that leads to another merger, and another Geisinger campus, remains to be seen.