'Small-format hospital' could open in Harmar next year
Allegheny Health Network wants to build one of its four new neighborhood hospitals in Harmar.
They 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, said Doug Braunsdorf, strategic communications adviser for AHN.
In December, AHN announced that the first of the four hospitals would be built in Hempfield, at Agnew Road and Route 30.
AHN has 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, Braunsdorf said.
AHN will be among the first health systems east of the Mississippi to use Emerus' neighborhood hospital concept, Braunsdorf said.
"These neighborhood hospitals can offer an assortment of on-site clinical services, including an emergency department, a limited number of inpatient beds for observation and short-stay use, diagnostic care, primary and specialty care, and other complementary services," Braunsdorf said.
The Harmar hospital would be located on two empty lots at Freeport and Guys Run roads, next to Zone 28, formerly FunFest.
On Thursday, Harmar supervisors approved amending the township's zoning to allow for construction of such a facility in that location.
As described to Harmar supervisors by Dusty Elias Kirk, an attorney representing Seavest, the hospital would be between 20,000 and 30,000 square feet in size with 10 beds.
It would operate 24/7, providing emergency and in-patient care.
Supervisor Bob Exler said the hospital, which would be taxable, would be a "godsend" to Harmar.
"We have a lot of elderly people in Harmar," he said. "It will be a lot closer to get to than maybe St. Margaret's. When you're in dire need — and I found out when I had a heart attack — that five or 10 minutes traveling time makes a big difference."
The project will need to go before Harmar's planning commission, which will review matters such as the number of parking spaces, and then to supervisors for final approval before construction could begin.
"It is our primary location but if we cannot make it work with your parking requirements we may have to look at another location," Kirk said.
Another location would be in the same general area, but could be within or outside of Harmar, she said.
David Goldberg, Allegheny Health Network vice president and interim president for Highmark Home and Community Services, said they hope to have the hospital open in 2019.
Tom Yerace is a freelance writer. Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BCRittmeyer.