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At 110 years old, Allegheny Valley Hospital keeps growing |
Valley News Dispatch

At 110 years old, Allegheny Valley Hospital keeps growing

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Friday, January 18, 2019 11:17 a.m

Allegheny Valley Hospital

Allegheny Valley Hospital will be remembering its history and investing in its future in this, its 110th year.

That will include saying goodbye to a large piece of its past. The hospital’s administration building, dating from 1928, is slated to be torn down this spring.

It’s among many projects recently completed, underway or planned at the 190-bed Harrison hospital.

“This year is an exciting year for Allegheny Valley Hospital,” said Jeff Carlson, who is serving as interim president and CEO following the retirement of Bill Englert. Carlson has been with Allegheny Health Network for four years, previously serving as president of the Wexford Health and Wellness Pavilion.

A nationwide search for a doctor to lead the hospital, its 900 employees, and 320 physicians is underway.

This year “marks our 110 year anniversary of serving the Alle-Kiski Valley region. We take this designation with great pride and honor for all the patients that we’ve served over 110 years,” Carlson said. “Also this year, 2019, marks some significant strides that we’re making on our campus. We have a number of moves to enhance our services to our patients and to their families.”

Hospital staff will mark the anniversary Jan. 28, the date the hospital admitted its first patient in 1909 at its original location on Second Avenue in Tarentum. Public events will be held later this year, said Janice Wirth, vice president of operations.

The hospital moved to Harrison’s Natrona Heights section in 1919, where it now consists of several connected buildings. It is landlocked and out of space — surrounded by homes and a gully — and unable to build very far up because of mines underneath it, Wirth said.

Hospital officials have decided the administration building can’t be salvaged, and that renovating it would not be cost-effective.

The building is so old it uses steam heat and has no elevator. Without central air conditioning, it’s dotted by window air conditioners. It was built to house the hospital’s nursing school. What once were dormitory rooms were turned into offices.

The demolition is expected in May, Wirth said.

While the land will initially be used for a parking lot, its removal will give the hospital room to grow, Wirth said. “Now, we’ll have a place to build again,” she said.

Currently, there are no immediate plans for any construction on the site.

Much of the work underway inside the hospital is related to the relocation of the offices and staff in the administration building.

“There isn’t a corner of this building that isn’t seeing some activity,” Wirth said. “We’re doing tons of things in this hospital.”

The hospital’s former gift shop is being converted into the administrative suite. A new gift shop will be built.

A new, more easily accessible location for patients to have blood drawn — phlebotomy — opened this month. Its former location in the hospital will be used for the hospital’s human resources department.

“It’s nice to have them right in the heart of the hospital,” Wirth said.

The space used for hydrotherapy, an outdated wound healing method that has been replaced with portable bedside treatment, will be gutted and used for administrative employees, as will a former occupational therapy gym.

A room formerly used for transcription, which no longer is needed, is being converted to be used for training nurses and new employees.

Recently completed work includes a new $1.3 million computed tomography (CT) scanner and suite that opened in December.

In the cancer institute, a new $2 million linear accelerator that delivers high doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells will be coming in, with space renovated to accommodate it.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, or via Twitter .

Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
The current main entrance to Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison on Wedneday, Jan. 16, 2019. The hospital is marking its 110th anniversary this year.
Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
The administration building at Allegheny Valley Hospital, dating from 1928, is slated to be demolished in this spring. The building, photographed on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, once housed a nursing school and dormitories before being converted into offices.
Jeff Carlson, interim president and CEO of Allegheny Valley Hospital, and Janice Wirth, vice president of operations, with a new $1.3 million CT scanner that was installed at the Harrison hospital in December. Photographed on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019.
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