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Ground to be broken Friday for Vandergrift outpatient facility

| Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009

Kiski Valley residents used to traveling to Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison for services such as X-rays and blood work will soon have a shorter trip.

Alle-Kiski Medical Center, the hospital's parent organization, is opening a new diagnostic outpatient facility along Longfellow Street, which is expected to be in operation by late spring or early summer, according to AKMC spokeswoman Linda Jaskolka. It will be part of the Wilson Square Professional Building, being built on the site of the former Wilson Elementary School.

A ceremonial groundbreaking will be held Friday.

"We are going to occupy the lower level of the building with outpatient services blood work, mammography that kind of thing," Jaskolka said.

"Hospitals are moving a lot of their outpatient services into the community so that it is more easily accessible to their patients," she added. "The trend is going that way in health care with outpatient services, so we are following that trend."

It also is a way for the hospital to show its gratitude for years of support from residents of the Leechburg-Vandergrift-Apollo area, Jaskolka said. She said auxiliary organizations in the 1950s raised money to aid in the development of Allegheny Valley Hospital.

William Englert, vice president of AKMC operations and business development, said the new facility is important to Allegheny Valley Hospital and AKMC.

"It's very key," Englert said. "Probably about 25 percent of all of our patients come from the Kiski Valley. So this is a part of our patient base that uses our services and we don't have anything close to them.

"It's good for us to be there and good for the patients."

The Vandergrift Improvement Program (VIP) focuses on the central business district but Executive Director Sara McGuire said VIP views new business as a positive development even if it is out of the downtown, such as the Wilson building.

"Certainly, we see this as a way of offering more services to people in town," McGuire said. "This gives them (AKMC) an opportunity to expand and offer more to the residents. So, that is a good thing for the residents.

"With the elderly population in this community, it is good to have something to offer people who can't travel as far for medical attention."

The building is a 15,000-square-foot medical complex of which AKMC will occupy 5,600 square feet, according to Jaskolka. It is being built by the Wilson Square Professional Corp., which includes physicians Mohan M. Patel and Michael C. Ong, two internal-medicine specialists, and pharmacists Tasso "Stash" Liartis, Alex Micklow and Paul Tallarom.

Patel, who has had an office on Longfellow Street for 27 years, and Ong will have offices in the new building, which also will lodge the Vandergrift Pharmacy operated by Tallarom, Micklow and Liartis.

The new building will include parking for patients and customers, who will be able to access the building from both of its two levels.

Jaskolka said services at the AKMC facility will include X-rays, mammography, EKG, sleep-lab studies, a station to draw blood and space for community health education classes and workshops.

As for whether the facility will expand in the future, Englert said, "I'm not sure. We always have to evaluate as demographics change in the market. But I think we are starting out with the right mix of services."

"It's more of a convenience and reaching out to people in the community and making AKMC more accessible to them," Jaskolka said.

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