COAL TOWNSHIP - Area residents who suffer minor injuries and illness will soon have a new option for after-hours treatment.

Geisinger Careworks urgent care center is being developed inside the expanding Ressler Center on the campus of Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital (G-SACH).

The facility is expected to be open from 4 to 11 p.m. weeknights and longer on weekends. Anyone needing treatment for allergies, asthma, burns, fevers, sprains, minor cuts and the like at a time when their physician's office is closed can skip the emergency department and go to Careworks.

According to the Careworks website, services like immunizations, EKG and phlebotomy will be available on site, along with X-rays, with patients directed across the way to the hospital.

Hospital officials say the facility will offer quicker service and lower costs compared to emergency departments. It will also free up emergency department staff for more serious cases.

Tom Harlow, chief administrative officer at G-SACH, said opening is tentatively planned for April or May.

The Coal Township facility is among five after-hours centers listed as "coming soon" at careworkshealth.com, with two others up and running. Geisinger also has Careworks facilities operating under traditional hours, including at the Weis Plaza in Danville.

Geisinger announced in September plans to open 20 to 25 such clinics in the Geisinger coverage area in the next 18 to 24 months. At the time, Careworks Health Services Chief Executive Officer Ken Berndt said Geisinger Careworks bills, much like a primary care physician bill, will be in the $90 to $100 range, rather than a $600 cost for an emergency room visit. Careworks takes most insurances.

The facilities are also intended to offer shorter wait times.

Berndt noted the clinics may also offer an opportunity to identify the underinsured or uninsured and encourage them to find a primary care physician.

Eye clinic

Geisinger broke ground Jan. 28 for a $1.2 million ophthalmology clinic, a 4,000-square-foot addition to the Geisinger Specialty Care-Shamokin building, or Ressler Center, on the G-SACH campus.

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

It will expand facilities for the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders and diseases including cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye and uveitis, corneal disease, retina disease, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.