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Work begins on UPMC East rehab unit

| Thursday, May 8, 2014, 6:06 p.m.

Construction on the most recent addition to UPMC East — a 20-bed rehabilitation unit — began last week, and those behind the project expect the new center to be up and running by July.

UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at East will make its home in the hospital's 6 East Wing.

Renovations, officials said, cost about $400,000 and include the makeover of a waiting room into a therapy gym and the creation of a shared activities space and a kitchen.

“Our medical staff is thrilled about the service capacity that we're adding here,” UPMC East President Mark Sevco said.

He added that patients in the eastern suburbs have expressed interest in a rehab facility that was near the hospital, and closer to home.

“Sometimes stays can be longer (in rehab units). Family visits multiple times a day,” he said. “For them to not drive to the city or a longer distance is a huge satisfier.”

The rehab unit, which is scheduled to open July 1 with 12 beds, will be available to patients not only from UPMC East but also other facilities.

Plans are in the works to add eight additional beds, bringing the total to 20.

The unit will be the first UPMC Rehabilitation Institute in Pittsburgh's eastern suburbs, according to hospital officials. They said they expect to bring in about 15 new hires to staff the unit.

While a range of rehab services will be offered, the unit will offer a particular focus on stroke and orthopedic patients.

Sevco said the institute will draw upon the experience of UPMC's other rehabilitation institutes.

“The strength and the things we are doing at other locations are really available to us day one when we open,” he said.

Leading UPMC East's rehabilitation institute is Dr. Peter Hurh.

The institute's medical director, Hurh is an inpatient rehabilitation specialist and assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

He works in rehabilitation centers at UPMC's Presbyterian, Montefiore and Mercy hospitals.

“I think in general there's been a growing need for this type of unit,” Hurh said. “I think it's an area that we can expand into to bring this kind of service where it can certainly be beneficial.”

Julie Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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