South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Planning forum learns more about expansion of UPMC South Side


Changes at UPMC South Side were briefly detailed by hospital President Nancy Magee at last week's combined July-August meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

On June 15, two units moved from the former UPMC Rehabilitation Hospital in Squirrel Hill to UPMC South Side: the traumatic brain injury unit and the spinal cord injury unit. Magee called the new units “enhancements to our services.”

Of the 150 licensed beds at UPMC South Side, 60 are for rehabilitation and 90 are acute medical surgical beds.

The hospital has about 900 employees.

“The building is so much more active now,” said Magee. “We have to always be evaluating our physical space to make sure we have space for patients and clinical services.”

The hospital opened a second campus at the newly renovated vacant former Giant Eagle building at 23rd and Jane streets. Of the 15,000 total sq. ft., one-third contains an out-patient rehabilitation gym; one-third houses medical offices; and one-third will be for research into rehabilitation.

The move to South Side was beneficial to patients of the Squirrel Hill facility as their complex needs often require an on-site pharmacy, laboratory and advanced radiology services, and emergency room access, which an acute hospital like UPMC South Side offers.

Closing that facility did not result in the loss of jobs, Magee said, as workers remained employed in the UPMC system or at the Children's Institute.

To forum chair Hugh Brannan's inquiry about parking, Magee said she is working with Rick Belloli, executive director of the South Side Local Development Co., to locate additional parking sites.

To a question of whether there is a dermatologist at the hospital, she said no, but they are seeking some.

The great majority of doctors there constitute a private medical staff, she said, and are not hospital employees.

To a question from Brannan of “what's next? ,” Magee cited the two-year-old Interventional Spine and Pain Management Center, the sleep center which is getting busier, and the annual growth in the number of Emergency Dept. visits. A new CT scanner will arrive in the fall.

The hospital is not planning any new services, she said, but is focused on enhancing existing services.

In his LTV update, Belloli said the committee did not meet as it is the summer, so there is no report.

To a forum member's question about REI, or Recreational Equipment Inc., he said the building will also house McCormick and Schmick, Sisley, Sur La Table, Benetton, and the Ann Taylor Loft.

While no gourmet food store is yet signed for the site serving as a temporary surface parking lot, it will happen eventually, he said, as the Cheesecake Factory lease requires it.

The lease requires certain shops in a development, such as a bookstore and a gourmet food store. The lease also sets forth a minimum number of parking spaces.

Belloli said he talked with officials of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, who informed him construction of the Hot Metal Bridge pedestrian/bicycle bridge will probably start in the fall.

The project is estimated at $6.5 to $7 million, with money earmarked from federal transportation enhancement funds, and a local share which is a combination of city, URA, and private foundation grants. The cost is about the same as building a vehicular bridge.

The widening and reconstruction of a mile-long stretch of East Carson St. from South 25th St. on the western end to a point about 1600 feet east of South 33rd St. on the eastern end has been delayed due to bureaucratic entanglements.

On the reuse of public facilities on the South Side, an issue he raised last month, Belloli said “funding for this is actively being pursued at this time.”

Last month, he said many public facilities are going through change in use or in intensity of use. He suggested that instead of sitting back and watching, the community should lead the process.

The goal would be to get organized, choose battles, and set priorities.

In Brashear Association news, executive director Brannan said that as of Sept. 1, the second floor of the Brashear Center, 2005 Sarah St., will be available for leasing. The total area of the space is about 3,200 square feet.

Preferred tenants will offer services that complement the mission of the Brashear Association, meaning, provide services to low income families in South Pittsburgh.

“If we can't make that happen, let's talk,” said Brannan. He may be reached at 412-431-2236.

The meeting concluded with Belloli's update on the free shuttle operating on a trial basis this summer to relieve traffic. The shuttle runs Thursday through Sunday.

Last weekend, encompassing all four days, there were 726 riders.

About one-third of the riders were from each of the three shuttle route sites: South Side Works, Station Square, and the historic district. Such an even distribution was the goal of the service, said Belloli. The information was acquired from logs kept by drivers.

Belloli said at the end of the summer he will look into the possibility of having the service extended.

For more information on the shuttle, see: www.

The next forum meeting will be on Sept. 13.


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