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North Hills

Plans for AHN hospital in Pine move forward

| Saturday, May 12, 2018, 11:30 a.m.
A rendering of a new full-service hospital that Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network announced will be built adjacent to its Wexford Health and Wellness Pavilion that opened in 2014.
Allegheny Health Network
A rendering of a new full-service hospital that Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network announced will be built adjacent to its Wexford Health and Wellness Pavilion that opened in 2014.

Representatives from Allegheny Health Network presented details about the design and development of the proposed 160-bed hospital in Wexford to the Pine Township Board of Supervisors during the general meeting May 7.

The board voted to follow the recommendation of the planning commission in granting approval of the plans.

Those plans include a 180-space parking garage, a 165-space surface parking lot, stormwater improvement and traffic improvements including signaled access from Route 19.

The hospital will be attached to the existing Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion currently at the location and is expected to open in 2021.

Greg Stackel, the project architect, reviewed some of the overall design plans. He said they heard a lot of comments and concerns from the planning commission about the mass and size of the building, and that along Route 19 they've used a number of methods to “break up” the overall mass of the building. There will be setbacks in different sections as well as changes in materials used to accomplish that.

The parking garage will be broken down into three different bands with louvres and panels that will aid in ventilation and help minimize light pollution coming from the structure. Many of the same materials, colors and design elements used in the existing pavilion will be carried over to the new structures.

Jim Palafoutas, director of pre-hospital services for AHN, discussed helicopter transports at the new facility. Based on similar facilities, he said, they expect about 156 helicopter transports per year, primarily between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., and no helicopters will be based at the facility. They will be flying in and then leaving in order to transport critically ill patients to facilities in Pittsburgh.

They follow “fly neighborly” practices, he said, in order to minimize impacts on surrounding neighborhoods and their goal will be to fly along Route 19 rather than over residential communities.

Project acoustical consultant Rob Greene said based on the analysis the noise impact from the helicopters will be minimal. The aircraft themselves are modern and quieter than typical helicopters because they are designed only for medical transport, and the length of time the aircraft will generally be heard during a flyover will be only 22 to 25 seconds. Landing and takeoff can take up to a minute.

Traffic engineer Mike Haberman said they are proposing to break the median along Route 19 and install a traffic signal and turn lanes in order to access the facility. PennDOT has approved the traffic study and authorized them to move forward with a median break study and highway occupancy permit plans for the turn lanes and signal.

Karen Price is a Tribune-Review contributor

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