UPMC Passavant expansion aims to meet needs of more patients

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UPMC Passavant on Monday unveiled a new seven-story Patient Pavilion, a 220,000-square-foot addition that has been four years in the making.

"The new area was designed with patients, family and staff in mind," Teri Petrick, president of UPMC, said at a media open house Monday.

The $140 million renovation is part of a plan by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to have the hospital in McCandless become a "destination hospital," meant to attract patients from all over the area, Ms. Petrick said. Various areas of the facility have been opening as work is completed, and the project is expected to be finished by September.

"We wanted to nurture our deep roots in the community while, as part of UPMC, use our vast resources to complement the community clinicians," said William Kristan, UPMC Passavant medical staff president and chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine. In the past six years, UPMC Passavant's inpatient volume has grown more than 30 percent, he said.

A new entrance, based on an "airport" model, is a key feature, Ms. Petrick said. "We wanted a separate arrival and departure area to make things easier for the patients. They will come in one area where they can check in while those who are discharged will leave in another location."

In the design stage, architects consulted with doctors, administrators, patients and staff. Even the nurses' areas on the floors are new, with an open, easy access plan that allows patients and their families to walk up and ask for assistance without a high counter in between.

Six high-tech operating rooms were added, bringing the hospital's total to 21.

Dr. David Gellar, hospital physician, gave a tour of one the operating rooms via videoconferencing technology, which allows other UPMC medical facilities to be linked. He said about 50 percent of patients can be treated using minimally invasive surgery techniques because of new technology. "This means less pain, less recovery time," he said.

The hospital's cancer center also has been expanded by 27,000 square feet, tripling its size. Patients may enter through a separate entrance and use the resource library under the direction of a trained nurse. New treatment and waiting areas are designated for these patients.

"Our cancer center is the second busiest in the UPMC system, but we want to make sure that when a family faces a cancer diagnosis, they never feel lost in the system," Ms. Petrick said.

The new treatment rooms were designed with the comfort of both patients and family members in mind, according to Ms. Petrick.

Joyce Teese, a cancer patient from Adams, has been receiving chemotherapy for the past year and is using the new treatment rooms, opened in mid-February.

"They have turned a challenging time into a positive time. I joke with them that if I wasn't having chemotherapy, I would come and visit them anyway, they make it so positive," she said. Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, televisions and family chairs.

The intensive care unit has added 16 critical care rooms for cardiothoracic patients and new private rooms for patients on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors. These room also have floor-to-ceiling windows, large bathrooms and sleeper sofas for family members.

The emergency room has been expanded by 21,000 square feet to include a "fast track" area designed to move patients from the waiting room to treatment sooner.

The expansion includes 26 acute treatment rooms, three trauma rooms and an expanded Austin's Playroom, which is a children's waiting area that was donated by the Mario Lemieux Foundation.

The new facilities are expected to increase the hospital's emergency capacity from 35,000 to 60,000 visits a year.

Ms. Petrick said 500 parking spaces will be added. The renovation also included a new road connecting Babcock Boulevard with Peebles Road.

Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com . First Published March 18, 2010 9:30 AM


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