Hospital plans moving
forward on schedule
The Derrick, 11/2/01 By JUDITH O. ETZEL
A special thank you goes
out to The Derrick for allowing this article to be posted
MERGER BETWEEN THE UPMC AND NORTHWEST HEALTH SYSTEMS IS EXPECTED TO HAPPEN NOV.
Two years after
announcing a merger aimed at building a new hospital in Venango County,
Northwest Health System, the parent organization for the Oil City and Franklin
hospitals, is primed to pull it off.
"We are really
looking forward to this next month when everything will come together,"
said Neil Todhunter, chief executive officer of Northwest, following a board of
directors meeting this week.
Obviously pleased with
the progress to join with the Pittsburgh-based UPMC health system to build a $65
million hospital in Cranberry Township, Todhunter said the formal merger between
the sprawling Pittsburgh health care system and Northwest will happen Nov. 30.
"It is lawyers
working with lawyers....(and) we expect it will all come together on that
date," Todhunter said.
With that agreement in
place, a construction document outlining what the new hospital will look like
and which health services it will house will be signed. That will trigger a
timeline: UPMC must start construction within 18 months, and UPMC has 60 months
to complete the building project.
A formal groundbreaking
ceremony is scheduled for early spring. However, some preliminary work,
including grading the property, will start sooner. The completion of the new
hospital is set for July 2004.
Even with the delays
since first announcing the merger and subsequent new hospital in October 1999,
UPMC and Northwest have not changed the scope of the project.
"It's the same
cost: $65 million for the building, equipment, land, infrastructure. And it
includes the same health services," Todhunter said.
As UPMC Northwest
follows its construction agenda, other hospital-related work will also get under
way. That includes widening Route 257 into a three-lane highway, a chore which
PennDOT is coordinating; extending municipal water and sewage service to the
site, which Cranberry Township is handling; and determining where traffic lights
will be installed, also on the township's list of chores.
The size of the acreage
owned by UPMC Northwest in Cranberry Township is sparking some interest in
hospital related projects, Todhunter said. Early on, the new UPMC Northwest plan
included a 50-office physicians building near the new hospital. That is still in
the works, according to Todhunter.
"We are assessing
our physicians' interest in that office building. We should know here pretty
soon about its status," he said.
Other spots on a drawing
of the hospital property list a building for use as a psychiatric treatment
center and an area for an assisted living development. Those are very
preliminary ideas, said Roger McCauley, senior vice president at Northwest.
"They may never
happen, but with 144 acres, there is a lot of opportunity for those kinds of
things," McCauley said.
The UPMC Northwest
project marks the first time the huge Pittsburgh health system has offered to
build a replacement hospital as part of a merger deal. Northwest will join 15
other health centers and numerous community surgical centers, rehabilitation
centers, in-home and long-term care services, and retirement centers now under
the umbrella of UPMC.
Hospitals in the western
Pennsylvania network include large systems (Magee Women's Hospital and UPMC
Presbyterian) as well as smaller hospitals (UPMC Braddock and UPMC Horizon).
UPMC has 30,000 staff members and more than 5,000 physicians.