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$4.5M expansion under way at Allegheny Valley Hospital

Emily Balser
| Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Exercise physiologist Zachary Andrews checks the equipment at Allegheny Valley Hospital's new Cardiac Rehabilitation room on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. The section opened last month.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Exercise physiologist Zachary Andrews checks the equipment at Allegheny Valley Hospital's new Cardiac Rehabilitation room on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. The section opened last month.
Registered Nurse Mary Jo Diller demonstrates the cycle machine in Allegheny Valley Hospital's new Cardiac Rehabilitation room on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. The section opened last month.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Registered Nurse Mary Jo Diller demonstrates the cycle machine in Allegheny Valley Hospital's new Cardiac Rehabilitation room on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. The section opened last month.

Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison has begun a $4.5 million renovation project that will provide new patient services and improve existing units.

“It's really geared a lot toward satisfaction of the patient and their family members who visit,” said Bill Englert, hospital CEO.

The improvements include a new inpatient rehabilitation unit, upgrades to the oncology and orthopedics units and updated nursing units.

The money for the renovations is being provided by Allegheny Health Network, the hospital's parent company and that of six others in the region. The health network also operates AVH Outpatient Services, an urgent-care center in New Kensington.

“They've released the funding for us to get this done,” Englert said. “Highmark and Allegheny Health Network have stepped up and said that the Alle-Kiski community is important.”

Dan Laurent, health network spokesman, said it is committed to investing in programs that enhance the community's access to quality health care that's close to home.

“AVH has served its community exceptionally well for many years,” he said, “and we are excited about the great benefits these new investments will have for those who rely on us to meet their health care needs.”

New: Inpatient rehab

The inpatient rehabilitation unit will offer services not seen at Allegheny Valley before.

“These are people who have had strokes, spinal cord injuries or trauma,” Englert said. “That's something new that we'll offer here.”

The unit is designed for patients who need at least three hours of therapy a day.

It is scheduled to be open July 1.

The new orthopedic unit will include a rehabilitation gym and private patient rooms to allow for more space for family and privacy for meeting with doctors.

“Everything will be brand new — a lot better amenities,” Englert said.

Other general upgrades include a new cardiac monitoring system and a new nurse call system.

Cardiac rehab returns

The hospital also reopened its cardiac rehab center in December. It had been closed for nearly 10 years. That project was made possible with a $175,000 donation from the hospital's ladies auxiliary.

This unit serves patients who have had heart surgery. It provides a supervised exercise program, dietitians and cardiac nurses.

“Those patients need intensive oversight to get back in shape,” Englert said.

The ladies auxiliary is a group of volunteers that has roots dating to the opening of the hospital in 1909. The group does fundraising throughout the year for whatever the hospital may need.

“We were very proud to be able to donate that amount to bring back the cardiac rehab unit,” said Pam Lapczynski, auxiliary president. “We were really in dire need of that.”

Lapczynski is looking forward to how the hospital improvements will impact the community. She hopes the investment means the hospital will be around for many years to come.

“It's very exciting to me as a volunteer,” she said.

Facilities being phased in

Englert said all of the renovations should be finished by September, but each unit will be done in phases and open at different times throughout the year. He said patient care won't be impacted by the work.

Englert said the renovations serve as a way to improve Allegheny Valley Hospital while strengthening its ties to other hospitals in the network that provide more extensive care, such as doing a liver transplant or delivering babies.

“We're able to serve as that gateway for that higher level of care,” he said. “We want to keep as much care as we can locally, and then the things we can't, we have an easy way to get patients access to it.”

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4680 or emilybalser@tribweb.com.

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