Excela plans more facilities

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Excela Health in Greensburg on Wednesday announced plans to build outpatient facilities in Hempfield and Unity within the next two years, part of a long-term strategy to expand its presence in Westmoreland County while consolidating affiliated offices that are now scattered throughout the county.

Michael D. Busch, Excela's chief operating officer, said the health system wants to be more convenient for patients who now may have to travel to one location to see their primary care physician, another to get a blood draw and yet another for physical therapy.

The centralized locations, which will also offer multi-specialty care, should allow Excela to better manage and coordinate care, he said.

"From a business perspective, bringing services together improves efficiency and lowers cost, but most importantly, it makes things more convenient for patients and promotes quality throughout."

He said officials also hope to capture some of the estimated 20 percent of Westmoreland County residents who are currently traveling to Allegheny County for care.

The two new facilities, which are still only in the planning stages, will be modeled after Excela's North Huntingdon outpatient site, Excela Square at Norwin. In each case, they are looking for sites in the range of 80,000 to 120,000 square feet.

In addition, Mr. Busch said Excela is working with the Ligonier YMCA on a plan that could give patients access to primary care at a nearby facility.

Mr. Busch said Excela has been working on this new approach for some time, and that is why it rebuffed an attempt by Pittsburgh insurer Highmark Inc. to force it into an affiliation this summer. Excela officials have said they want to remain neutral in the competition between Highmark and Pittsburgh health system UPMC to acquire hospitals and physician practices, and Mr. Busch said Wednesday that the earlier tensions have eased.

"We're all trying to solve the same problem" of providing quality care at lower cost, he said. "Our message to both of them is that we have to collaborate because if we don't collaborate, everyone loses."

businessnews - health

Steve Twedt: stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963.


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