By John Chambless

Staff Writer

In a continuing effort to expand its market, Christiana Care Health System, the largest healthcare provider in Delaware, is moving into Pennsylvania.

In June 2011, the company purchased for former AIG insurance building that sits just north of the Delaware border on Route 202 in Concord Townshbip. Early this month, 40 trucks brought concrete to the site as workers poured the walls that will house the radiation treatment area.

With a projected opening in January 2014, the building at 161 Wilmington-West Chester Pike will be known as the Christiana Care Concord Health Center. It will offer full-time primary care and ob/gyn physicians and part-time specialists in cardiology, gynecologic oncology, dermatology and endocrinology. Outpatient cancer care will be coordinated through the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute. Patients will be able to get radiation therapy, genetic counseling and testing, and care management. Rehabilitation services will include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology. There will also be cardiovascular diagnostic testing, aswell as a suite offering X-ray, CT, MRI, mammography, and ultrasound services.

Christiana Care has been looking for years to expand its services outside of its home base in Delaware, and the vacant building was 15 minutes from downtown Wilmington.

Christiana Care has two hospitals - one in Newark and one in Wilmington - and operates the only Level-1 trauma center in Delaware. They also offer a home healthcare service, primary care physicians and outpatient centers. With more than 10,000 employees, Christiana is the biggest private employer in the state. In Chester County, Christiana operates Christiana Care Cardiology at the medical office building at Jennersville Regional Hospital.

The expansion plan is putting Christiana in competition with Crozer-Keystone Health System and Main Line Health, which operate facilities in the Delaware County area and draw on the same market. There's also competition locally from Chester County Hospital and Jennersville Regional Hospital.

To make a name for its services coming to the Concord Health Center, Christiana Care is sending  physicians out to community meetings where genetic testing will be offered. The presentations will continue throughout the region as a way of publicizing the health center and introducing the services that will be offered.

The new location is part of an aggressive expansion campaign by Christiana Care, including the newly transformed Wilmington Hospital in the city. On May 30, there was an unveiling of a new nine-story tower named for Carol A. Ammon, the benefactor responsible for the largest individual gift in Christiana Care's history.

"The new facility transforms the care we are privileged to provide our neighbors," said Robert J. Laskowski, president and CEO of Christiana Care, at the unveiling ceremony.

The Wilmington campus, at 14th and Washington streets, is where Wilmington's first homeopathic hospital opened nearly 125 years ago. Upon completion of the project in 2014, the hospital will be expanded by 337,000 square feet, creating a 1-million-square-foot facility, including an emergency department that's twice its current size, a medical office building and a cafe. Construction began in 2009.

For more information about upcoming public events and the new Concord Health Center, visit www.christianacare.org.