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Company drops plan to build rehab hospital in Unity

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By Richard Gazarik
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

A Cumberland County-based health care company has abandoned plans to build a hospital specializing in physical rehabilitation in Unity, the company's president said on Monday.

“We're suspending our activity for the time being,” said Anthony Misitano of Post Acute Healthcare LLC in Camp Hill. He said the company is looking for potential sites elsewhere.

The facility would have competed for physical rehabilitation patients with Excela Health.

“We were never going to allow them to encroach on our market share,” said Jen Miele, Excela's vice president of marketing and communications. “This is a no-brainer.”

Meanwhile, Excela officials have delayed plans to build an ambulatory care center in the township so they can concentrate on other projects, Miele said.

On May 1, the health system is launching a campaign to attract patients to its Latrobe facility, the same date slated for the opening of inpatient rehabilitation services at UPMC East in Monroeville, Miele said.

A UPMC East spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Misitano said Excela wasn't interested in partnering with Post Acute.

“We attempted to do something with Excela, but at the end of the day, they decided not to work with us. We prefer to have some partner in the marketplace,” Misitano said. “It's not done. But there are so many other areas of the country to focus on, we didn't want to fight with a local hospital.”

Unity Township Supervisor Mike O'Barto said site plans for Post Acute had been approved, but the company never applied for a building permit.

A deal between developer Don Paulone to sell property along Route 30 to Post Acute was never finalized, according to Westmoreland County real estate records.

Paulone said he was told Post Acute “was working through some of the processes they have to complete.”

Post Acute triggered a battle with Excela last summer when it announced plans to open a 40-bed hospital in the township at the same time Excela was planning to build an ambulatory care center similar to a facility it operates in North Huntingdon.

Excela's planned facility on Route 30 in Unity is two or three years away, according to Miele. She said the company has four major projects scheduled for this year, and the board of trustees will decide next month which will get priority.

Excela will rename the Barclay Rehab Unit at Latrobe Area Hospital to Excela Physical Improvement Center, or EPIC Rehab, Miele said.

“We not only want to hold our market share, we want to grow it,” she said. “This will be a test of our ability to market.”

Miele said rehabilitation services are highly profitable for hospitals. Because of an aging population and health care reform, such services have grown by 3.7 percent a year, according to one study. Last year, the industry recorded $27.7 billion in revenue.

Next month, Excela will begin an advertising and marketing campaign to attract more patients for physical therapy, which is profitable, Miele said.

She said the Latrobe facility will expand from 16 to 24 beds. It will aid stroke victims and patients with brain injuries and joint replacements, which require a higher level of rehabilitation than skilled nursing.

The Allegheny Health Network provides outpatient care along with UPMC in Belle Vernon, Delmont, Greensburg, Latrobe, Murrysville and North Huntingdon.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can bereached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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