As UPMC’s proposed South Hills hospital hits regulatory hurdles, the Pittsburgh-based health giant is moving on plans for new ambulatory and urgent care centers in the area.
Officials expect to be ready to open the outpatient care center at the former Toys R Us store in the parking lot of Century III Mall by November 2020, UPMC Chief Operating Officer Leslie Davis said.
In coming months, UPMC’s newest urgent care center will open at a shopping center along Clairton Boulevard.
Meanwhile, the 62-bed hospital is working through the regulatory process and officials anticipate continuing to do so for at least another year, Davis said.
No, UPMC is not buying the mall
“Remember the rumor for years that we were buying the mall?” Davis told reporters during a mid-year financial briefing last month. “We’re not buying the mall, but the Toys R Us is right on the property.”
West Mifflin Mayor Chris Kelly said that previous discussions to bring a major UPMC medical facility to the Century III Mall site fizzled about a year and a half ago amid a lack of cooperation from Moonbeam Capital Investments, which owns the mall.
“We were hoping that (UPMC) would have purchased Century III Mall,” he said. “There was just some cursory discussions, nothing really official.”
Moonbeam could not be reached for comment.
The mall filed for bankruptcy last year and closed in February. Moonbeam has said in legal filings that it plans to demolish and redevelop it over five years, with the design, permitting and demolition phase taking place over six to 12 months at a cost of about $10 million, according to court filings.
UPMC officials declined to discuss further details about the ambulatory care center amid the planning stages.
No permitting requests or plans for the former Toys R Us site have been submitted to West Mifflin, borough officials said. A representative from Tech One Associates, which owns the property, declined to comment, citing a nondisclosure agreement.
New facilities to compete with Jefferson Hospital
UPMC unveiled plans last year to build a 225,000-square-foot, three-story hospital at the intersection of Route 51 and Elliot Road. The plans include an emergency room, imaging center, women’s health facility and operating and recovery rooms. About 30,000 square feet will be dedicated to doctor’s offices and the site will include about 700 parking spaces.
It’ll be located near a former drive-in movie theater and golf center about a mile away from Jefferson Hospital — which is run by UPMC’s health system rival, Highmark’s Allegheny Health Network.
Competition over patients across Western Pennsylvania continues to intensify following UPMC and Highmark’s freshly-inked contract.
Both nonprofit health systems agreed to a 10-year private contract in June that allows more than 1 million people with Highmark insurance plans to get care from UPMC doctors and hospitals at in-network rates.
The deal also preserves access for all to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Western Psychiatric Hospital and ensures that everyone can use emergency rooms in either system. More than 300,000 others on “narrow network” Highmark plans remain excluded from most UPMC facilities.
UPMC leaders have expressed a need for the hospital in the South Hills to fill a void for their health insurance members who live nearby. Others have questioned its proximity to Jefferson Hospital and the issues that building it could cause to the area.
More than 500 people have signed a petition opposing the hospital, and more than 100 residents have joined the advocacy group, “Say No to UPMC South.”
UPMC officials said the zoning and regulatory process is intensive, expensive and lengthy but they anticipate that the hospital will go forward as planned.