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2nd phase of Excela Frick Hospital work planned

Joe Napsha
| Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Excela Frick Hospital located in Mt. Pleasant photographed on Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2016.
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review
Excela Frick Hospital located in Mt. Pleasant photographed on Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2016.
Excela Frick Hospital located in Mt. Pleasant photographed on Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2016.
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review
Excela Frick Hospital located in Mt. Pleasant photographed on Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2016.
Excela Frick Hospital located in Mt. Pleasant photographed on Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2016.
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review
Excela Frick Hospital located in Mt. Pleasant photographed on Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2016.

The second phase of an initiative to convert Excela Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant into a medical mall housing physician offices, specialists, an emergency room, surgical center and outpatient testing while retaining hospital beds for overnight stays, is set to begin April 4, Excela Health said Wednesday.

The five-year project will transform the 102-year-old Excela Frick Hospital into a hybrid medical facility, with services found in both traditional hospitals and outpatient medical centers, said Robin Jennings, an Excela Health spokeswoman. The name of the former H.C. Frick Hospital, which joined with Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg and Latrobe Area Hospital in 2004 to Excela Health, will eventually be changed to Excela Square at Frick.

“It's a wonderful combination,” of a hospital and a medical mall, Jennings said, adding that the “best of all pieces” will be included in the hybrid hospital-medical mall. The hospital still maintains about 30 beds for in-patient care, Jennings said.

The five-year project began in 2014 and is expected to cost more than $12 million by the time it is complete, Jennings said. The cost of the project has been included in the capital budgets, Jennings said.

In the second phase of the project, the hospital's cafe will be updated with more seating and more food offerings. As that construction is occurring, food service will be provided on the hospital's second floor.

As the main lobby and rotunda entrance are improved, a secondary public entrance to the right of the hospital near the helicopter pad is planned to accommodate the expansion of the main lobby. An information and greeter desk will be located at the secondary entrance.

The QuikDraw Plus blooding testing will be expanded, and the hospital's chapel and Healing Garden will be relocated in the second phase, which is set to be finished by February.

The second phase starts up after Frick's emergency department, which serves more than 22,000 people a year, was modernized, along with centers for advanced wounds and sleep studies in the first phase of the work. The hospital's QuikDraw Plus area was expanded as well.

Medical officers for primary care physicians and specialists will be updated in the final phase of the project. That work will be done within the existing footprint of the building, Jennings said.

Excela wants to create a patient-centered medical home concept that is already in place at Excela Square at Norwin, which is located at the Norwin Hills Shopping Center in North Huntingdon. That facility offers a variety of outpatient services, including blood work and diagnostic testing, along with physician offices, outpatient surgeries and occupational rehabilitation.

“This is a trend and it is a good trend. It's a national trend,” Patricia J. Raffaele, vice president of professional services for the Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania, said of the medical mall concept.

These facilities make it easier for the patient and their families if they have access to their physicians and testing capabilities under one roof, said Raffaele, whose healthcare council is a Warrendale-based trade group for hospitals, long-term care facilities and specialty hospitals in a 30-county area.

“I think they are well-received by the patient,” Raffaele said.

In Western Pennsylvania, the regional two dominant health care providers, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Allegheny Health Network, are applying that model to its facilities, as well as regional hospitals in Butler and Upper St. Clair, Raffaele said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252.

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