St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon distinguishes itself
St. Clair Hospital opened 60 years ago in Mt. Lebanon to give residents of the rapidly expanding South Hills a closer alternative to hospitals in the city.
Today, officials say its success and continued independence are dependent upon providing good service in a more convenient location to the suburbs.
The hospital opened on Feb. 22, 1954, after 10 years of planning and fundraising, with the intent of providing hospital services to suburbs that were booming with post-World-War-II families.
While major Pittsburgh hospitals formed the UPMC and Allegheny Health Network systems and expand into the suburbs, St. Clair works to distinguish itself by offering the latest technology, convenient locations and strong ties to the surrounding community, said Dr. G. Alan Yeasted, St. Clair's chief medical officer.
“Location and convenience are fine, but if you don't have the quality and technology, people aren't going to come even if you're right next door,” Yeasted said. “If we didn't have that, we'd still be just a small community hospital.”
Dr. Arthur S. Haines conceived the idea of the hospital in 1941 as a way to cut out the 45-minute travel time from the South Hills to Pittsburgh. A Women's Hospital Auxiliary helped run fundraising efforts to build it.
Today, local philanthropy is very important in keeping the hospital running, Yeasted said.
“It's still pretty much a grassroots foundation,” he said, noting that current hospital supporters include many Pittsburgh business owners and executives living in the South Hills. Those fundraisers supported a series of projects over the hospital's history that expanded it from 104 beds in 1954 to 328 beds today.
St. Clair serves approximately 287,000 patients per year, with 2,200 employees and 550 physicians, said spokesman Bob Crytzer. The hospital's annual operating budget is around $280 million.
Leaders have touted the hospital's high ratings for patient satisfaction, such as its inclusion in the Thomson Reuters Top 100 list of hospitals in 2012 based on its efficiency, outcomes and satisfaction ratings.
Judith Lave, professor of health economics at the University of Pittsburgh, said strong leadership, good patient care and good contracts with insurers likely are keys to helping St. Clair thrive.
“It's really important that they are a well-run, well-respected hospital,” she said. She noted that the hospital's smaller size makes it easier to use and more comfortable than a big, busy hospital such as UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland.
“Compared to the size of Presby, it may be a more hospitable place to receive your care,” Lave said.
Yeasted said the hospital has benefited from stable leadership: It has had just three CEOs in its entire history, and many long-serving members on its board of directors. That helped bring a consistent vision and strategy for the hospital, without letting it become stagnant, he said.
One board strategy has been emphasizing cardiac care, including a Coronary Intensive Care Unit added in 1967, a cardiac catheterization lab in 1991, and a Heart Center in 1998.
Those provided services that previously weren't available locally, and made it possible for someone in the South Hills with a cardiac emergency, such as a heart attack, to make it to a hospital faster, Yeasted said.
As advances in technology and changes in reimbursements for medical care made more procedures happen on an “outpatient” basis, the hospital opened its Outpatient Center in Bethel Park's Village Square in 2002, and a new outpatient center in Peters in 2013. In partnership with UPMC, the hospital opened and later expanded a cancer treatment center Yeasted called the region's busiest outside of UPMC's own Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside.
“We saw early on that outpatient care was going to be the future of healthcare,” he said. “That's been very successful for us. As payment models changed, we were prepared.”
St. Clair will hold a private anniversary celebration for its employees and physicians at a date to be determined, and will incorporate a 60th anniversary theme into its annual Summer Swing fundraiser July 18 at the St. Clair Country Club, Crytzer said.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or email@example.com.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Museum’s ‘Carnegie Trees’ exhibit shows ‘Winter Wonders’
- Teens elevate Western Pa. communities with Eagle Scout projects
- More fear ‘tackle’ football too risky for kids
- 50 years later, Vietnam vet gets his degree at Westminster
- Decorated World War II veteran gets visit, gift from ex-Steeler
- Mt. Lebanon history center project gets OK
- eReader books also available to borrow at local libraries
- YMCA program helps people with mobility issues regain movement