30 Years: UPMC becomes regional power, gains international attention

Part of the 30 Years, 30 Changes series on the Pittsburgh region

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It can be tough to pin down the exact date of the beginning of UPMC, the now internationally known health care giant with $10 billion in revenue and roughly 48,000 employees that make it the region's largest employer.

But 1983 was the year the man given the lion's share of credit for creating UPMC, the late Thomas Detre, began using his power as the University of Pittsburgh's new associate senior vice chancellor for health sciences to craft his vision of an integrated health provider/teaching hospital/research engine.

At the time, it consisted solely of the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) in Oakland. The region's other hospitals were separately run, and Detre realized consolidation was in all of their futures.

In 1983, Detre enlisted his protege, Jeffrey Romoff, now UPMC's CEO, and two doctors, Gerald Levey and Bernard Fisher, to craft a plan for what became the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, now part of the Hillman Cancer Center.

From there, over the next 30 years, UPMC would create, buy or expand -- starting in 1986 by combining WPIC, Eye & Ear Hospital, and Presbyterian University Hospital under unified management. It would go on to absorb Magee-Womens Hospital, Children's Hospital, Shadyside Hospital, Mercy Hospital and, most recently, Altoona Regional Health System. Last year, it opened the region's first new hospital in Monroeville, the $250 million UPMC East.

In all, UPMC -- which in 2002 adopted the acronym in place of the longer University of Pittsburgh Medical Center -- now controls 16 hospitals in Western Pennsylvania, as well as a hospital in Ireland, a transplant center in Italy, 13 senior communities and hundreds of cancer treatment centers, rehabilitation and outpatient clinics and doctors' offices.



Sean D. Hamill: shamill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2579. First Published October 12, 2013 8:00 PM


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