Details revealed for preliminary design of hospital
The Derrick, 11/2/01

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THE STRUCTURE WILL HAVE PLENTY OF GLASS, GARDEN AREAS AND PATIOS.

Preliminary designs for the new UPMC Northwest hospital in Cranberry Township show a sleek but imposing structure with plenty of glass, garden areas, patios and other amenities.

Here are some details:

The hospital will be located on a 144-acre tract just off Route 257 in Cranberry Township. Northwest already owned 123 acres, once the property of the Visiting Nurses Association that had eyed a retirement village project for there, and recently acquired five additional parcels totaling 21 acres. The latter properties were adjacent to the Northwest land.

A host of field tests, ranging from archaeological issues to wetlands, have been completed, and Todhunter said no problems have been found. Ground clearing work may begin soon.

The proposed UPMC Northwest hospital will contain about 210,000 square feet. That is a bit less than the 250,000 square feet first envisioned, Todhunter said.

The reconfiguration in space is due to Northwest's pending acquisition of the former Quaker State Innovation Center in Cranberry Township. Some non-medical offices will be put there, rather than in the new hospital facility.

The square footage is about one-half of what the combined Oil City and Franklin hospitals now offer. Early in the merger stage, Todhunter said a new, smaller scale hospital would save about $5 million a year in operating costs.

The new hospital will be four floors with two floors opening on ground level. Patios and upper level terraces will allow patients to go outside. An interior, glass-enclosed courtyard and numerous family waiting areas are also in the hospital design.

The front of the hospital will face the Cranberry Mall area. There will be two ground-level entrances. The main entrance will be from Route 257, about where Parker's Furniture is located. A second entrance is being eyed off Horsecreek Road at the rear of the hospital.

A number of paved parking areas for patients, employees and visitors will surround the new hospital. There will be parking spaces for about 1,000 vehicles.

The new UPMC Northwest health center will be licensed for 124 beds. That does not mean there will actually be 124 individual beds, Todhunter said. Rather, the hospital will have 98 beds with the capacity to expand another 26 beds if necessary. Todhunter said the rooms are large enough to allow some flexibility.

A breakdown of beds shows 64 acute inpatient medical/surgical beds for adults and pediatrics, eight intensive care/critical care, 16 intermediate (telemetry), and 10 obstetrics/gynecology beds. All the inpatient acute care rooms will be private, but 26 of them will be large enough to become semi-private in times of high patient occupancy.

Offering all private rooms is a departure from what Oil City and Franklin now provide, said Roger McCauley, senior vice president at Northwest.

"Having all private rooms is better for the patients because the ones now going into hospitals are sicker and need more attention and have more equipment needs. And it gives us flexibility with gender since we won't have to match in a semi-private room," McCauley said.

Those hospital beds at the new hospital, though, are not the only ones under the UPMC Northwest umbrella. Outside the hospital in other facilities will be 16 inpatient rehabilitation beds, 16 transitional care beds, 15 psychiatric beds and 12 drug and alcohol rehabilitation beds.

Todhunter said just where those departments, as well as accounting and related non-medical offices, will be has not been decided yet. Three properties - the Rowe Building at Oil City hospital, the West Unit at Franklin hospital, and the former Quaker State Innovation Center (Cranberry Township), which UPMC Northwest is buying - will house some hospital support departments.

"Some support functions will go to the Quaker State center and we think the transitional care unit and rehabilitation will be at the West Unit. It is yet to be determined for the Rowe Building," Todhunter said.

In addition to the patients' rooms, the new hospital will have a cancer center, emergency services, diagnostic centers, surgical centers (ambulatory and regular surgeries), physical/occupational/speech therapy departments, cardiac rehabilitation, pharmacy, education and health information center, and more.

Once the new hospital is up and running, which is expected by July 2004, the Oil City and Franklin hospitals will cease functioning. UPMC Northwest has maintained its pledge that if no use is pegged for those buildings, and no buyer is interested, they will be razed.