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Mark Hopkins takes over reins of UPMC South Side


Mark T. Hopkins, UPMC South Side's senior vice-president and chief operating officer

By Margaret L. Smykla

Contributing Writer

Contrary to rumors, UPMC South Side is not becoming an orthopaedic hospital taken over by sports medicine, but will remain a full-service community hospital, said Mark T. Hopkins, the hospital's senior vice-president and chief operating officer.

Concern spread among some local residents with the opening at UPMC South Side in Dec., 2002, of two new, technologically advanced digital operating rooms, with a learning center for orthopedic surgery, for UPMC's orthopaedic sports medicine program. Prior to it, the surgical side of sports medicine was practiced at UPMC Presbyterian.

Hopkins said the surgical business was moved to UPMC South Side to make the hospital “more viable.”

Community hospitals are always struggling to maintain financial viability and increase business, he said. In South Side, which is not a growing community, the volume of patients is declining. Additional business raises revenue and improves the hospital's ability to cover fixed expenses.

“We're adding a specialty program that will help solidify the future of this facility,” he said.

UPMC South Side has about 550 employees, which includes part-timers but not physicians. There are about 350 physicians on staff. UPMC South Side is one of 20 hospitals in the UPMC system.

Concern over the future of South Side's hospital, a neighborhood fixture for over 100 years, took root with the establishment of UPMC's Sports Performance Complex in 2000 on the old LTV mill site. The facility is home to UPMC's Center for Sports Medicine, and the Panthers and Steelers football teams. Athletes from around the world, as well as non-athletes with sports-type injuries, are treated at the site, about a mile from UPMC South Side.

Besides the two new operating rooms, six other operating rooms were recently renovated, for a total investment of $5 million. We had six originally, and now there are eight, said Hopkins, so nothing is lost.

Hopkins said while no major changes are planned at UPMC South Side, officials are positioning the facility for the future by bringing new business to the hospital and working closely with physicians in the community to retain their business. They're also reaching out to community groups to get their message across, and are working more closely, hand-to-hand, to make sure all parties are on the same page.

“I view this as a partnership: community, physicians, and staff, to continue to make the hospital viable for the future,” he said.

Hopkins, who assumed his position in January, replaced Marcie Caplan, who is now a chief operating officer of UPMC Passavant in McCandless Twp.

Besides being UPMC South Side's chief operating officer, Hopkins is also the chief information officer for UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Shadyside.

Raised in Baltimore, Hopkins, 42, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in information system management from the University of Maryland University College in 1983. Prior to joining the UPMC Health System in 2002, he served as vice president for administration, and chief information officer, at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

“We have a good team of people here,” he said of UPMC South Side, “who are highly committed to making the hospital a success.”

“We must keep current with issues in the health care industry, and make the changes we need to make so we don't get off track.”

Those changes include continually searching for creative ways to stay in business as reimbursement from government and private sources decline, and expenses, like malpractice insurance, rise.

“It's hard when one number is going down and another is going up,” said Hopkins.


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