An average of 90 people a day travel from Monroeville and surrounding communities to receive care at a UPMC hospital in Oakland or Shadyside.
By this time next year, the Parkway East trip to the city could be a thing of the past.
"Monroeville and the east suburbs could almost turn into a mini-Oakland," Sean Logan, vice president of community relations for UPMC, said during a tour of the facility on Tuesday.
Construction on the new UPMC East hospital is well under way, and opening is slated for July 2.
The hospital is on a 17-acre lot at the site of the former Al Monzo's Palace Inn, near Business Route 22 and Route 48 in Monroeville.
The 156-bed facility will have all private rooms and will offer everything from outpatient testing to cancer treatment. It will be LEED-certified; it has huge windows that let in natural light, limiting the need for artificial lighting. The north- and south-facing windows will let in light all day long and reduce energy expenses by 18 percent.
All patient rooms have large windows, and 64 rooms will have patient lifts, which help move patients from stretchers or wheelchairs into bed, and help to prevent injuries to hospital staff and patients, said Joseph T. Badalich, UPMC East project director.
The bathroom floors are made of an epoxy resin to prevent leaks and ease sanitizing. All surfaces in the hospital will be "easily wipeable," Mr. Badalich said. "No nooks and crannies.
"This whole room is designed on ease of cleaning," he said.
The hospital will also be paperless and have wireless Internet connectivity -- doctors and nurses will use computers on wheels to access a patient's information. Wi-Fi will be available to patients and visitors, Mr. Badalich said.
A 460-space parking garage will be free for two hours and $2 a day after that, Mr. Badalich said.
There will be an emergency department but no trauma center; a helicopter pad on-site will transfer patients to trauma centers in Pittsburgh. The rooms in the emergency departments all will have transparent glass doors. With the flick of a switch, though, an electromagnetic field will charge particles in the door that go from clear to opaque, eliminating the need for curtains, Mr. Badalich said.
In addition to the hospital, UPMC spent $2.2 million on improvements to storm-water management, which will remedy a storm-water problem that has affected the area for decades. A low section of Route 48 near Route 22 would flood periodically, but bioswales around the hospital will capture water from nearby roads and the hospital's parking lot, and a pond behind the facility will store storm-water runoff.
"We've really solved a long-standing problem," Mr. Badalich said.
The intersecton of Routes 22 and 48, often cited as the second-busiest intersection in the state, will also see improvements, Mr. Badalich said. UPMC is making $2.4 million in improvements to the roads, including widening Fox Plan Road and adding sidewalks. New turning lanes, new signals and sidewalks will be added to Route 22 and to Route 48, Mosside Boulevard.
UPMC employs 226 people at its existing Monroeville facilities. The hospital will bring 400 jobs to the region, according to Mark Sevco, president of UPMC East.
"UPMC is very committed to Monroeville and the eastern suburbs," he said.
Meanwhile, plans for the redevelopment of the former UPMC Braddock site are moving along.
UPMC has promised $3 million toward a multipurpose facility on the site of the former Braddock hospital. After the closing of UPMC Braddock in January 2010, a settlement agreement required UPMC to provide door-to-door transportation to outpatient facilities in Forest Hills and McKeesport, in addition to other health services.
UPMC will not provide transportation for Braddock residents to the new facility in Monroeville, according to spokeswoman Susan Manko.
The Braddock Family Health Center, which offers outpatient services in the community, would be "substantially expanded" at the new facility in Braddock, said Dennis Davin, director of economic development for Allegheny County. The facility also would have about 90 units of affordable housing for seniors, other single-family housing and/or apartments, commercial space and a branch of the Community College of Allegheny County.
"It's a fairly substantial plan," he said.
Mr. Davin said officials hoped to break ground on the Braddock project in the second half of next year.
Annie Tubbs: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1613. First Published August 18, 2011 9:00 AM