Health care is booming business in Western Pennsylvania

| Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

Health care is booming business in Western Pennsylvania.

The industry's impact in the region last year was $15.8 billion, and health care employed more than 112,000 workers, according to a report published by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania. The number represented 10.5 percent of the total workforce in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Armstrong and Greene counties.

Health care continues to dominate the local landscape as UPMC and West Penn Allegheny Health System, the two largest providers, fight for patients and insurance customers in the region.

Highmark Inc., the region's largest insurer, has proposed acquiring West Penn Allegheny for $475 million. Because of that merger, UPMC intends to terminate agreements between its doctors and Highmark.

Key players


• The largest health care system in the region, UPMC owns 19 hospitals.

?In 2011, its operating revenue reached $9 billion, up from $8 billion in 2010, according to spokeswoman Susan Manko. The system employed 54,000 people in Western Pennsylvania, including more than 5,000 physicians. Its hospitals admitted and observed more than 234,000 patients.

• CEO Jeffrey A. Romoff earned $4 million 2009, according to public tax disclosures.

• In July, the system plans to open UPMC East, a 156-bed, $256 million hospital in Monroeville.


West Penn Allegheny Health System

• West Penn Allegheny has five hospitals.

• In 2011, net operating revenue declined to $1.5 billion from $1.63 billion a year earlier, spokesman Dan Laurent said. The system employed more than 9,900 workers, including 607 doctors. It provided 336,000 patient-days of care in its hospitals.

• Dr. Christopher Olivia stepped down in June as the system's head. He earned $1.8 million in 2009. Dr. Keith T. Ghezzi became interim CEO late last year.

• West Penn Allegheny is renovating West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield and Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville.


Excela Health

• Excela Health, based in Greensburg, has three hospitals.

• Its 2011 net operating revenue was $496 million, mirroring the previous year. It has 3,925 full-time employees, including 571 physicians. The system provided in-patient care to more than 36,000 people and listed 692,000 outpatient visits at its hospitals.

• Dr. Robert Rogalski replaced former CEO David Gallatin, who retired in 2009. According to the latest public records, Gallatin was the system's highest paid employee in 2009, earning $430,000.

• Excela Health in 2012 will expand Excela Square at Norwin in the Norwin Hills Shopping Center. The 7,800-square-foot addition will house primary care and specialty physicians, imaging services including CT & MRI, and other outpatient diagnostics.


The Washington Hospital

The hospital had more than 1,700 people on staff last year, including 361 doctors.

• In 2011, it logged 15,687 admissions, a slight decrease from a year earlier. Net operating revenue increased to more than $246 million, more than 6 percent higher than its 2010 revenue.

• CEO Gary B. Weinstein is the top-earning administrator, paid $259,000 in 2010, according to public tax disclosures.

• This year, the hospital plans to expand the Cecil Outpatient Center, add exam rooms for Cecil Family Medicine and construct a 12-bed observation unit at the hospital.


Highmark Inc.

• The region's dominant medical insurer lists more than 3.1 million clients.

• Its 2010 revenue was $14.6 billion and Highmark had nearly 85 million health care claims that year. It has more than 19,500 employees, including 10,500 in Pennsylvania.

• According to company statistics, Highmark paid more than $260 million in taxes in 2010.

• It is expected this year to complete its $475 million purchase of West Penn Allegheny Health System.


Noteworthy players:

• Dr. Michael "Micky" Collins, director of UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Clinic. Collins, of Mt. Lebanon, has overseen the treatment of Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. He became director of UPMC's concussion program in 2011.

"The recent increased awareness and advances seen with sports concussion care can, to a large extent, be directly traced through the development of pioneering technology, research and clinical protocol developed right here in Pittsburgh, a community immersed in sports culture and a demand for excellence," Collins said.

• Donna Wilfong of Fox Chapel. Wilfong, a registered nurse, heads West Penn Allegheny Health System's Simulation, Teaching and Research Center. The program graduated its first class of students in 2011. It educates high school students about health care careers and steers them into follow-up studies for specific health care job training.

"As part of our mission to serve the community, we at STAR wanted to work toward alleviating the shortage of allied health professionals in our region while also showing high school students a path to a career in health care," Wilfong said.

• Martin Lang, vice president of patient experience at Excela Health. Lang, of Unity, is overseeing a new way to treat patients at the hospital, including the elimination of waiting rooms, in-room concierges and spa-like treatments.

"People expect quality care from skilled clinicians. But as the generations change, so do their perceptions of what quality service looks like. We need to stay current by recognizing that change and exceeding the expectation," Lang said.

• Norman Mitry, president and CEO at Heritage Healthcare Systems. Mitry, of Center, presided over a pilot program for the Health Information Exchange, in which nine of the region's health care systems share data and patient information.

"The mission of provider-based ClinicalConnect is simply to improve care for our patients by providing the right information at the right time, regardless of where patients choose to be treated," Mitry said.

• Eric Schmidt, pre-hospital care director at Allegheny General Hospital. Schmidt, of O'Hara, oversaw creation of a smartphone app for emergency medical service providers in 2011. The app provides first responders with health information, GPS coordination, traffic information for patient transport and the ability to immediately call a medical helicopter.

"As the technology advances, we will continue to incorporate new elements into the product. The possibilities are really exciting looking into the future," Schmidt said.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.


Show commenting policy