Excela Healthcare buys Norwin Hills Shopping Center

| Thursday, June 7, 2012, 2:13 p.m.

Excela Healthcare System has purchased the Norwin Hills Shopping Center, which houses the Norwin Medical Commons, in North Huntingdon.

The healthcare system purchased the property from NH Hills LLC, of Morristown, NJ, for $1.9 million on May 31, according to records from the Westmoreland County Recorder of Deeds office.

The healthcare system has started renovations to create Excela Square at Norwin Hills, a medical mall that would contain physician offices, diagnostics and other medical services, according to Jennifer Miele, Excela's vice president of marketing and communications.

The Norwin Hills Shopping Center includes two plaza-style buildings and Galaxy Fitness. Excela Health shares its building with nine businesses, including an Aldi grocery store, Rite Aid and two salons, and the Norwin Hills Office Center, which houses an additional nine offices.

Michael Busch, chief operating officer of Excela Health, predicted more services could be offered at Excela Square at Norwin Hills, but the healthcare system doesn't have immediate plans to evict any of the current tenants.

"We could be a landlord for a while, but we're not going to move anything in the shopping center," Busch said. "As leases come up, if we have a clinical need to offer more services, we might not renew leases so we can put those services in.

"That's a definite part of our strategy, but that hasn't been considered at this point."

Cindy Ieraci, owner of Cristo Bello Salon, Spa and Gifts, which sits in the same building as the proposed Excela Square, said she is excited about the purchase.

She said her business has worked with Excela to provide makeup and other services for photo shoots for its publicity materials.

The medical facility could just be the boost the shopping center needs, Ieraci added.

"I'm thrilled because they've been a great partner with us, and we have a great rapport," Ieraci said. "I think they will be a great assets to the complex, and we're expecting to see more walk-ins coming into the salon from Excela Health."

As of Monday, Ieraci said no representatives from Excela Health have spoken to her about potentially moving her business, though she expects to discuss it at some point.

"They've been fair to everyone, so we'll probably address it eventually," Ieraci said.

Busch said officials began looking for ways to combine its physicians' offices and diagnostic services when the healthcare system closed the Jeannette campus in January.

"We wanted to create a model of care that is efficient and provide a level of advanced preventative medicine," Busch said. "We had this design ready before we talked to the owners of the mall complex about selling."

The facility offers diagnostic services, laboratories and a four-room ambulatory surgery center. It also offered gastrointestinal services and general surgeries, physical therapy, cardiac rehabilitation, stress tests and echocardiograms.

Next week, Excela officials plan to finish its first renovation phase when it opens its imaging center, which includes X-rays and CAT scans, Busch said.

The first phase cost Excela Health about $9.5 million, which included construction and purchasing imaging machines.

During the second phase of the renovations, Excela plans to create several physicians offices, including primary care and specialists, which should be open this fall.

Busch said officials also plan to create a community education center at Excela Square, and expand its orthopedics offices by the end of the year.

"We're still doing the value engineering on the final phases," Busch said.

The finished Excela Square should allow for quick, efficient services, Busch said.

"For example, if someone were to have an abnormal mammogram, in one stop, they could have a biopsy, ultrasound, talk to a radiologist and a surgeon," he said. "It eliminates the time gaps between the biopsy, decision and plan of care.

"It'd all happen within a single 90-minute visit."

Norwin Medical Commons employs 50, and the expansion should bring another 100 jobs to the complex, Miele said.

She expects some employees to transfer into Excela Square at Norwin Hills from other Excela facilities.

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