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North Hills

Zoning change paves way for AHN to build small-format hospital in McCandless Crossing

Tony LaRussa
| Tuesday, June 26, 2018, 12:21 p.m.
A rendering showing what the four neighborhood hospitals proposed by Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network will look like.
COURTESY OF ALLEGHENY HEALTH NETWORK
A rendering showing what the four neighborhood hospitals proposed by Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network will look like.

A zoning change Allegheny Health Network needed to build one of four small-format hospitals in the region was approved by McCandless council.

The health network wants to build a hospital with an emergency room and a minimum of 10 in-patient rooms in the McCandless Crossing shopping center at the intersection of McKnight Road and Duncan Avenue.

The zoning change passed at the June 25 council meeting by a 6-0 margin with an abstention by council President Kim Zachary to avoid a possible conflict of interest because she works as a nurse for AHN.

The measure limits any so-called small-format hospital built in the town to a maximum of 40,000 square feet with no more than 15 emergency room bays and 15 in-patient beds.

The four hospitals proposed are part of a plan AHN and Highmark Health announced last year to invest $1 billion in new facility construction and expansion and renovation of existing facilities over the next four to five years.

The health network said the four hospitals are needed to help address lapses in the availability of medical treatment that will occur when a consent decree expires in June 2019.

The consent decree is a state-brokered deal that was negotiated after the contract between Highmark and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center expired in 2014.

The decree allowed some Highmark customers to continue using UPMC doctors and hospitals until next June.

The site in McCandless where AHN wants to build is about a mile away from UPMC Passavant campus.

In addition to McCandless, AHN also has proposed small-format hospitals in Hempfield at the intersection of Agnew Road and Route 30; in Harmer at Freeport and Guys Run roads; and along Route 51 at Greenlee Road in Brentwood .

To develop the four hospitals, AHN formed a joint venture with Texas-based Emerus, a developer and operator of neighborhood hospitals.

Seavest Inc., based in New York state, is the building developer working with AHN and Emerus.

To address concerns that the location of the hospital in McCandless could be disruptive to nearby residential properties, developers will purchase 10 acres to set aside as “resource protection” land, said Dusty Elias Kirk, a lawyer representing Seavest.

Kirk noted at a previous town meetings that the proposed hospital in McCandless will be a taxable property.

The zoning change that was approved does not give AHN the go-ahead to begin construction.

Detailed site plans must first be approved by the town's planning commission and the council before work can begin.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6368 or tlarussa@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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