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Unity board approves hospital site plan

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Unity's planning commission on Tuesday gave final approval for a site plan that allows a Camp Hill health care company to build a hospital off Route 30 that will compete with Excela Health's Latrobe hospital and an ambulatory care center that Excela will start construction on this summer.

The plan now goes before the township board of supervisors on Thursday for its blessing.

Post Acute Medical LLC of Camp Hill and Avail Healthcare Ventures of Dallas will build a 54,400-square foot, two-story hospital. It will have 40 beds, as well as outpatient services. The $20 million project will be built on 6.9 acres at the intersection with Grayhawk Court.

The supervisors gave preliminary approval last month after deciding the plan met township zoning laws.

The decision puts an end to organized opposition from Excela Health in Greensburg, which opposed the project out of concern that the competing facility would impact rehabilitation services offered in Latrobe at Excela's 14-bed unit.

Jennifer Miele, vice president of marketing and communications, said Excela accepts the township's decision after waging a letter-writing campaign targeting local, county and state lawmakers.

“We completely understand that Unity couldn't legally vote to stop the project, despite receiving nearly a thousand letters from Excela employees,” she said in a prepared statement. “But there was another unanticipated outcome of that letter-writing campaign. Within days of the campaign kickoff, we realized how much physician support there is for our well-established rehabilitation services. Within 18 hours of the April supervisors' meeting, the inpatient unit at Excela Latrobe Hospital was nearly filled, and the monthly numbers for outpatient rehab were higher than they've been in two years. Turns out the exposure paid off in a way we didn't expect. We're thankful for the support from area physicians.”

Even though Excela argued that the region could not support the facility, Post Acute Medical said its study indicated the region could support another 80 beds. Patients recovering from surgery, strokes, amputations, and brain and spinal cord injuries would be treated at the new facility.

In 2004, supervisors approved 23 acres along Grayhawk Drive for a residential development. Six additional acres were reserved for future commercial development.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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