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Valley News Dispatch

UPMC targets Natrona Heights as possible site for medical mall

Ben Schmitt
| Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, 5:30 p.m.
The $19 million UPMC outpatient center in Hampton.
The $19 million UPMC outpatient center in Hampton.

UPMC is eyeing Natrona Heights and other areas near the Alle-Kiski Valley to build a large scale medical mall, officials said Thursday as the health care giant unveiled a similar facility in Hampton.

"This is the beginning of other projects that we will do in UPMC," David Martin, senior vice president of UPMC's Health Services Division said of the new 44,000-square-foot center. "This is the first major outpatient primary care center."

Bringing a similar facility to northeastern Allegheny County would intensify competition between UPMC and rival Allegheny Health Network. AHN operates Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights, which has long dominated health care delivery in the A-K Valley.

In addition to Natrona Heights, other areas under consideration by UPMC include the Aspinwall/Blawnox area and Cranberry region, Martin told the Tribune-Review.

He described the Hampton center as a model for other sites.

"We have some pockets where it may make sense," Martin said. "I think what we have to look at are our demographics."

The Hampton facility, located on Mount Royal Boulevard, combines six doctor practices along the Route 8 corridor offering treatments ranging from pediatrics to elderly care. The center will employ about 110 people.

Martin, who also is president of UPMC Passavant, said it's been in the works for a little more than two years.

"This $19 million community investment provides a wide range of outpatient services for patients in the area and brings together the talent and expertise of the clinical and administrative staff of UPMC St. Margaret and UPMC Passavant," he said.

UPMC already has a presence in Harrison. It operates an Urgent Care Center along Freeport Road and has offices for several physicians groups and a cancer center off Burtner Road. It also operates a smaller storefront outpatient center at Harrison Town Square.

Steve Kogut, principal owner of Wild Blue Management L.P., which has owned Harrison Town Square since 2003, when it was called the Heights Plaza, declined to comment other than to say he was hopeful the shopping center could be in play for expansion.

Allegheny Health Network has already opened several one-stop health care centers in the region.

AHN's 175,000 square foot Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion in Pine, about 10 miles away from the Hampton center, is also described a "medical mall." It opened in 2014.

Officials from AHN declined comment Thursday on the UPMC plan to open large outpatient centers.

Dina Perry, executive administrator for UPMC Community Medicine, described the Hampton center as the "first of its kind" for UPMC. The strategy behind the medical mall is to offer an array of outpatient services in one location.

"We spoke to patients about what's important to them, and time and again we heard that it's important where they get their care, when they receive that care and who provides that care," she said. "This building really speaks to that. It's a primary care destination."

The three-story building in Hampton will provide primary care, women's health, pediatric, rehabilitation, radiology and laboratory services.

"This is outstanding for the community," said Dr. Francis Solano, president of UPMC Community Medicine. "They have a place to go where they'll have access seven days a week. They'll have resources that they usually don't get in the community — it's right here."

Massaro Construction built the mostly glass and metal building designed by IKM Inc.

The facility contains 31 examination and eight consultation rooms on the first floor; radiology and rehabilitation centers on the second floor and a Magee-Womens Speciality Center, along with pediatrics services, on the third floor.

Besides the outpatient centers, UPMC is looking to open a hospital in South Fayette. The health giant opened Children's South medical facility in 2014 in South Fayette on Hickory Grade Road.

UPMC is also affiliating with Pinnacle HealthSystem of Harrisburg in a push to grow in central Pennsylvania. The two health systems have been working on the deal since March.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

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