Who stole South Side Hospital?
South Side Hospital opened its doors in 1892. The hospital was purchased by UPMC in 1996. Prior to UPMC's acquisition of Mercy Hospital, UPMC South Side physician staff members were promised that the hospital would remain a community care facility with an emphasis on sports medicine and rehabilitative care.
UPMC infused money to upgrade it's operating room and the entire UPMC system centralized rehabilitative inpatient care at this site. However, the purchase of Mercy Hospital apparently has caused UPMC to focus on financial efficiency over community needs, as proclaimed with its recent announcement that UPMC South Side Hospital will no longer exist.
By now, Pittsburgh natives are well familiar with insurance denials of prescriptions and medical services on a claim that these needs are “not medically necessary.” The demolition of South Side Hospital takes this concept to another level. South Side Hospital is no longer “medically necessary” for the South Side community.
Understandably, many living in the South Side community, as well as numerous members of UPMC South Side Hospital's medical staff, are not happy with this move. Financial interests motivating this act of community evisceration, will have widespread detrimental effects on local consumers of health care and businesses alike.
Community members and interested physicians have raised the issue as to whether contract terms of the hospital's acquisition might prevent UPMC from abandoning the hospital's charitable purpose of serving the South Side community. On this matter, acting as an agent for Consumer Health Advocates, LLC, I contacted Daniel Vukmer, Esq, Vice President and General Counsel for UPMC Health Plan requesting a copy of this purchasing agreement.
He responded in expected “but I didn't inhale style” as follows. “First, UPMC Health Plan has never purchased any hospital, including South Side Hospital. Second, any documents memorializing commercial transactions of UPMC generally constitute confidential information.”
So, who stole South Side Hospital? Apparently, Mr. Vukmer doesn't know, but if he does, he's not telling.
Leslie Tar, MD, MPH
Physician and Attorney at Law Consumer Health Advocates, LLC