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Highmark crowds UPMC East

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 6:33 a.m.

Highmark Inc. is inching closer to rival UPMC in Monroeville with the purchase of the former Parkvale Savings Bank headquarters at William Penn Highway and Mosside Boulevard.

Highmark, which is forming an integrated health system to compete with UPMC, paid $6 million for the office building, which is next to UPMC East, a $250 million hospital that opened last year, according to a deed filed Monday in Allegheny County.

It's the second major purchase in Monroeville for Highmark, the state's largest health insurance company.

“We are exploring a number of options (for the building), ranging from back office functions to potentially a few medical practices,” Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger said. “Monroeville is an important marketplace for us.”

Highmark previously purchased a former clothing store on Monroeville Boulevard that it plans to convert to an outpatient surgery center. That building is beside an office park where UPMC leases space for several medical practices.

It also is in the process of acquiring West Penn Allegheny Health System, which owns Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville. Forbes is about a mile from UPMC East on Mosside.

UPMC spokesman Paul Wood declined to comment on the purchase.

Parkvale was acquired by FNB Corp. in January 2012.

Highmark, the state's largest health insurer, spent $32 million in 2011 and 2012 buying properties around the Pittsburgh region for its new health system. It hasn't disclosed plans for most of the properties, which included vacant land and office buildings.

On one of the properties, a large plot of land in Pine along busy Perry Highway, Highmark is constructing a $100 million medical mall, which will offer one-stop shopping for a wide range of outpatient medical services, such as primary care and specialty physicians, testing, imaging and outpatient surgery.

The insurer has said it wants to build one more medical mall somewhere in the region but has not announced a site.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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