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Officials at both Monroeville hospitals pleased with patient numbers

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The tim
Volunteers, Keri Baughman, Fred Kalina and Hannelore Kalina enjoy a relaxed moment a the reception. UPMC East celebrated it's one year anniversary on July 2 with festivities for staff, employees and volunteers. Lillian DeDomenic | For The times Express

As Monroeville passes the one-year point as a municipality with two hospitals, officials at both UMPC East and Forbes Regional Hospital cite positive numbers.

For UPMC East that means exceeding first-year projections at the 16.7-acre hospital site, which opened in July of last year. In the case of Forbes Regional, which has been a presence in Monroeville for more than three decades, officials say the decrease in numbers of patients was less than anticipated when UPMC East went into operation just about a mile away.

Good start

Though UPMC East's first-year figures include numbers that topped what the hospital projected, officials said its facility was prepared to meet increased demands.

The average patient census of 113 per day is 1.5 times more than what was expected by UPMC East for the time period.

In addition, emergency room visits were more than two-and-a-half times what was anticipated, with an average of 102 per day and a projected 38,000 emergency department visits in the first year, and the surgical case volume is more than 50 percent beyond what administrators originally projected.

“We're really impressed with the numbers and how the community embraced us,” said Mark Sevco, UMPC East president.

Sevco traces the new hospital's beginnings to about three years ago. At that time, UPMC saw that its Shadyside hospital was at full capacity on a regular basis.

“What we realized was there was a tremendous draw from the east,” he said. “We wanted to be accessible. We wanted it to be a good location, and it ended up being so.”

He attributes the hospital's “nice, steady growth” to not only its accessibility to those in the area, but its access to UPMC's network through electronic medical records and connections to other facilities, which patients can be transferred or referred to for other services, if needed.

The objective of UPMC, he said, was not to lure patients away from Forbes Regional, but to decompress city hospitals and provide an accessible alternative under UPMC's health plan.

Continued progress

While UPMC East marked its one-year anniversary, Forbes Regional Hospital prepared to celebrate some significant milestones, as well, according to Jesse Miller, its communications and marketing specialist.

“This marks the 35th anniversary of Forbes, and we expect the next 35 years to be as bright,” he said.

He cites an approximate 10-percent decrease in discharge volume in the past year, but indicates that was less than expected.

With UPMC's foray into the municipality, Forbes Regional's emergency department “took a higher hit in the beginning,” he said.

Officials at the hospital, which is part of the Allegheny Health Network, point out improvements and new offerings for patients, which contribute to its continued progress.

The hospital has been working on new projects which are coming to fruition this year. The improvements are based upon providing specific patient services.

“Forbes continues to improve their services for what the community needs,” Miller said.

While Forbes provides a full complement of hospital services, in the case of UPMC, he said, patients might have to be transferred to other facilities.

Among Forbes' new developments are a robotic surgery program that recently reached the one-year mark, a breast-care center and working to meet the requirements needed to become a Level-II trauma center. Forbes officials anticipate that the trauma center will receive that status in October.

A liver center and new pediatric and cardiac programs have been rolled out by the hospital, as well.

“Many of the things we've been working on, we've been working on since before UPMC East announced plans for the new facility,” Miller said. “Many of these things were in the works for quite some time.”

A new gateway

From the viewpoint of municipal officials, both hospitals offer opportunity and growth, as well as a benefit to residents by offering care closer to home.

According to municipal manager Lynette McKinney, Monroeville is seeing new economic development in the form of restaurants and offices because of the increased medical services.

She also anticipates a decrease in residential vacancies, with new employees moving to the area as both facilities continue to expand.

“Forbes has been a great neighbor for a long time in our community, and UPMC has already proven to be a great neighbor in just one year,” she said.

The municipality, she said, has an opportunity to become a “gateway” for the medical industry as it did previously in the technology sector.

“We welcome with open arms both entities to Monroeville,” she said. “Our community is a highly visible, successful community. These two entities can only make it stronger and more prosperous.”

Julie E. Martin is a freelance reporter for Trib Total Media.

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