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Heart catheterization labs reopen at West Penn Hospital as part of $9M renovation project

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 5:00 p.m.

West Penn Hospital's cardiovascular institute in Bloomfield will reopen on Monday with a $9 million face-lift from Highmark Inc., officials said.

The cardiovascular institute, where doctors will perform a variety of heart procedures, includes two cardiac catheterization laboratories and an electrophysiology laboratory. Those services had been moved from West Penn to sister hospital Allegheny General in the North Side. Doctors affiliated with AGH will be coming to West Penn to offer those services there.

The institute's reopening is the first of several projects the health insurer has been getting ready in the wings to tout its newly formed Allegheny Health Network.

“This sends a strong message about the continued resurgence of West Penn Hospital,” Duke Rupert, West Penn's president and CEO, said on Tuesday.

Highmark has spent about $32 million on renovation projects at the Bloomfield hospital, Rupert said. The infusion of money helped West Penn in February 2012 reopen its emergency department, which had been closed since December 2010. The ER's closing signaled a death knell for the once-vibrant hospital.

Highmark and West Penn's parent, West Penn Allegheny Health System, completed a long-delayed affiliation on April 29. The deal calls for West Penn Allegheny's five-hospital system to get about $475 million in grants and loans to become part of the network.

“The focus will be on value, outcome and quality,” said Highmark CEO Dr. William Winkenwerder.

West Penn, which sustained a significant drop in surgical volume, debuted newly refurbished medical and surgical inpatient units and an 18-bed intensive care unit in the past year.

Since the emergency department reopened, inpatient admissions shot up to 700 a month, a 40 percent increase, said West Penn Allegheny spokesman Dan Laurent. The surgical caseload jumped to 525 a month, a 28 percent increase, he said.

Renovations are under way in West Penn's obstetrics and operating rooms, said John Paul, president and CEO of West Penn Allegheny and Allegheny Health Network. He said plans call for renovating the cardiac catheterization laboratory at AGH.

Luis Fábregas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7998 or

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