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Unity hospital developers win battle

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Developers of a proposed $20 million physical rehabilitation hospital in Unity won one of two battles Tuesday in their efforts to win the township planning commission's approval of a site plan for a health care facility at Route 30 and Grayhawk Court.

The commission recommended preliminary approval of the site plan for a 40-bed inpatient rehab hospital, with a 6,600-square-foot outpatient rehab center, to be operated by Post Acute Medical LLC of Camp Hill. But the planners denied a request from Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, the project engineer, to recommend final approval of the plans.

The commission told Ben Hunter, an engineer for Langan Engineering, that its recommendation for final approval of the plans will be contingent on the developer resolving outstanding issues with the plan.

The developer of the hospital, Avail Healthcare Ventures LLC of Dallas, still must obtain:

• Sewage tap-ins from the Hempfield municipal authority, which will serve the 54,400-square-foot facility; its sewage plans must be approved by the state;

• Approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection for its sewage plan;

• Approval from the Westmoreland County Conservation District for its erosion and sedimentation control plan and its stormwater management plan;

• An occupancy permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to connect into a Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County water line along Route 30.

Hunter told the commission that the firm is working to get the necessary approvals from the state and local agencies.

Dan Schmit, the planning commission's engineer, said that Hempfield this week did receive an allotment of tap-ins that would be available to developers.

Avail Healthcare Ventures plans to build the rehabilitation hospital on a 6.9-acre parcel owned by Grayhawk LLC of Corporate Circle, Hempfield. Donald Paulone, owner of Grayhawk, said last week he has an agreement to sell the property.

Karick Stober, Post Acute's chief financial officer, previously said that the rehab hospital will employ about 125 professional employees who would be considered “full-time equivalents” — registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists. With clerical, janitorial and dietary employees, the facility could create 200 jobs.

Hunter said after the meeting he believes the developer will have to return to the planning commission's May meeting to get a recommendation for the final approval of the plans. The planning commission's recommendation is forwarded to Unity's supervisors, who would vote on whether to approve the plans.

The supervisors last week conducted a hearing on the conditional use of the commercially-zoned property for health care care use, and solicitor Gary Falatovich said nothing occurred at the hearing that would lead him to believe the supervisors would oppose the request.

Ronald Ott, senior vice president for community and government relations at Excela Health, told the commission that representatives from Post Acute Medical visited Excela Latrobe Hospital's 16-bed inpatient rehab facility.

“We still have some significant questions about the need for this facility and the impact of this facility on jobs and health services already being provided by Excela Health. We are hoping to continue discussions with Post Acute Medical to really learn more about the ins and outs of their proposed services,” Ott said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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