Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network reveal $1 billion expansion plan

A 160-bed new hospital is one of multiple projects involving either new construction or expansion of an existing facility.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Credit: AHNCredit: AHN

Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network, a Highmark company, are moving forward with more than $1 billion in expansion plans over the next  four to five years, the cornerstone of which is a new 160-bed hospital to be built next to its Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion, Highmark announced Wednesday.

The hospital is one of multiple projects involving either new construction or expansion of an existing facility, efforts that will come to roughly $700 million. Coupled with $315 million in capital investments announced earlier this year to support the network's cancer and Erie market strategies, the additional projects boost their total commitment to more than $1 billion in new or enhanced care sites and capabilities.

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Additionally, the projects are expected to create more than 800 new healthcare jobs in the region.

The new, 160+ bed hospital will be located in Pine Township, next to Allegheny's Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion and will complement other services in the area including the Pediatric Orthopaedic Institute, the Pavilion and other physician offices. It will be a full-service hospital, the system said, and will offer services that patients might have had to travel to Pittsburgh for previously.

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"When the Wexford Pavilion was developed, we envisioned one day adding an equally dynamic, retail-oriented, inpatient component to our capabilities in the market," said Cynthia Hundorfean, AHN president and CEO. "We are thrilled to now be moving forward with that vision by building a state-of-the-art, full-service hospital for our patients and their families that will be unsurpassed in the experience and quality of care that it affords."

AHN expects to break ground on its new hospital in mid-2018, pending regulatory approval, and the new hospital is scheduled to be completed in or before 2021.

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Another significant project that will greatly expand the system's footprint is a pending joint venture micro-hospital giant Emerus that will yield multiple new micro-hospitals in the region, starting with four over the next 18 to 24 months. Locations are still being finalized, but opening dates are scheduled for early 2019.

Emerus micro hospitals typically range from 15,000 to 60,000 square feet and offer various onsite clinical services including an emergency department, 10 to 12 inpatient beds for observation and short-stay use, diagnostic care, primary and specialty care, and other services. They are open 24/7 and can accommodate some patients who require hospital-based services.

AHN and Emerus will share construction costs for the new hospitals, and Emerus will manage them.

Finally, expansion and renovation efforts will enhance several AHN facilities including Jefferson Hospital's emergency department, which will feature spacious waiting areas and the advanced technologies to help caregivers triage, diagnose, and treat patients more effectively. That work is expected to start in the first quarter of 2018.

At Forbes Hospital, their existing perioperative, gastroenterology, and postoperative surgical recovery units will see some enhancements to better accommodate the hospital's growing surgical program and patient volumes. The hospital is expected to break ground later this month on a new 50,000-square-foot Perioperative Center, which will double both the capacity of Forbes' post-acute care unit and capacity for cardiac procedures. The project will also yield a new electrophysiology lab and an expanded, state-of-the-art GI lab. That project is scheduled for completion in December 2018.

"AHN's plan also includes continuing investments in infrastructure, renovations, technology upgrades and new clinical programs at AGH, and construction of an expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and investment in a number of AHN Women specialty clinics at West Penn Hospital, including a new Center for Postpartum Depression," the system said.

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