Excela spends $1.65M on Unity parcel for outpatient center
By Joe Napsha
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Excela Health has bought a 28.7-acre parcel off Route 30 in Unity for $1.65 million to build a 100,000-square-foot outpatient care center, a move that Latrobe officials now support after initally criticising the decision not to build it in Latrobe.
Excela Health Diversified Services Inc. of Greensburg, bought the land from Colony of Unity L.P., a North Huntingdon partnership, under an agreement reached on Dec. 18, 2012. That agreement was not recorded in the Westmoreland County Courthouse until Monday, according to documents in the Recorder of Deeds office.
Donald Tarosky, a principal in Colony of Unity, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Excela Health has said it wants to start construction within the next few months and have the health care facility completed by mid-2014.
Excela still is putting together pieces of the property it needs to create an access road from Route 30 to the outpatient care center to be built in vacant land behind Arnold Palmer Motors.
Excela's plan to swap a small parcel of land on its newly acquired property for a small plot owned by Arnold Palmer Motors Realty, so that it could build an access road from Route 30 to its outpatient care center, was recommended for approval Tuesday by Unity's planning commission.
That recommendation from the planning commission will be considered for approval by the township supervisors, possibly during its Feb. 14 meeting.
Excela's acquisition of the land in Unity effectively puts an end to any hopes Latrobe had of convincing the health care system to build the outpatient care center in Latrobe.
Latrobe officials said Tuesday they are now supporting the health system's initiative to build that new facility in Unity.
“We're very much supportive of their plans. We never wanted to make this (criticism) about hurting their business,” Latrobe City Manager Alex Graziani said.
Supporting Excela's plans for a new medical facility in Unity “seems the best tack to take,” said Latrobe Deputy Mayor Kenneth Baldonieri.
City officials last month criticized Excela's plans to build its 100,000-square-foot Latrobe Ambulatory Care Center off Route 30 in Unity, rather than in downtown Latrobe. Excela said it looked at sites in Latrobe and near Latrobe Hospital but did not find a suitable site for the outpatient center.
Following the public criticism, which included questioning Excela's commitment to the community, Latrobe officials and Excela executives met at the hospital last month in what both sides later described as a “productive meeting.”
Excela Health said it appreciated the city's support of Latrobe Hospital and the health system's Unity project.
“They understand what this means to the regional community. We will be in continued dialogue with city leaders about our plans,” said Jennifer Miele, Excela's vice president of marketing and communications.
Michael Busch, executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Miele are scheduled to meet with city officials on Thursday, Graziani said.
Baldonieri said while he agrees with supporting Excela's plans, he wants the health system “to have a significant corporate presence in the central business district” of Latrobe.
Graziani said the city wants to be considered as a site when Excela makes plans to expand or relocate offices. Excela has a corporate services center off Georges Station Road and administrative offices along Pellis Road, both in Hempfield.
“Latrobe needs to be at the table” well before Excela enters options to acquire sites or make plans for facilities, Graziani said.
But Miele said that “to speak about any relocation plans would be premature, since no formal discussions have been had.”
City officials had expressed concerns about the potential loss of physician and other health care offices in downtown Latrobe if Excela builds an outpatient center in Unity. Downtown Latrobe's “niche” is providing a site for professional services, including health care offices, Graziani said.
“We're very concerned about our community and the downtown properties,” Graziani said.
Excela Health has said that as of now, only one health care office from Latrobe would relocate to a new facility in Unity. A new outpatient care center would consolidate about 20 physician offices now scattered around the Latrobe, Derry and Unity areas, Excela has said.
City officials understand that Excela Health is implementing a business model so that it will remain a competitive health system, Graziani said. Excela also is looking to build a similar outpatient care center in Hempfield, at a site within a few miles of its Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg.
“We want them to be sure they remain committed to our community hospital,” Graziani said, and not just positioning itself to be acquired.
The two biggest players in Western Pennsylvania's health care market — University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Highmark Inc. – have been active in recent years in acquiring control or complete ownership of health care systems in the region.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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