South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

‘Decision is final' to close UPMC South Side, merge with Mercy according to hospital CEOs


The combined July-August meeting of the South Side Planning Forum yielded a response to what residents can do to stop the closing of UPMC South Side, but it wasn't an answer the roughly 40 audience members wanted to hear.

The decision is final, said hospital president Nancy Magee of closing the facility within five years as it consolidates with UPMC Mercy.

"This is a very good thing for Mercy," said new UPMC Mercy President Will Cook of the upgrades, expansions, and additions — such as a larger emergency department and more operating rooms — to handle the extra patients.

"We have open arms for all of this," he said.

The hospital officials were present to explain the consolidation and answer questions from residents, many of whom have stated publicly that the closing will negatively impact senior family members and neighbors for whom the facility is a short distance away.

Ms. Magee said the move is not being undertaken for financial reasons, but rather was a clinical patient care decision.

The goal is to provide the best possible care every time, she said, and consolidating services will do that.

The consolidation is planned to begin next summer when inpatient services are moved to UPMC Mercy or other UPMC hospitals.

Then, when the UPMC South Side emergency department closes, an urgent care center will be set up on the site that will be open about 16 hours a day. That center, ambulatory services, imaging, and more will move within three to five years.

Ms. Magee said there are no plans to change anything about the Roesch-Taylor Medical Buildings at 2100 Jane St. She said she is also unaware of any plans by doctors to switch office sites. No loss of jobs for employees is expected with the change.

To a question of what is an urgent care center, Ms. Magee said someone can stop in for, say, a fever, or if their child falls and gets cut. Flu vaccines can also be administered there.

Follow-up care is done with one's doctor.

She disputed an assertion that patients taken in ambulances the extra two miles to UPMC Mercy will die more frequently than if they received immediate treatment at UPMC South Side.

To a question of whether UPMC Mercy will be able to provide the additional care, Mr. Cook said the hospital won't open additional units until it has the "right number of staff with the right skills."

Other attendees complained about the parking situation at UPMC Mercy, the traffic gridlock on the bridges that will keep ambulances from crossing, and the lack of a traffic study.

City Councilman Bruce A. Kraus expressed concerns about St. Clair and Jefferson hospitals being the only hospitals south of the Monongahela River.

If a catastrophic event takes out the bridges, he said, there would not be enough capacity in the south to care for all the patients.

"We're putting all our eggs in one basket," he said of UPMC Mercy.

State Rep. Harry Readshaw suggested involving the local boroughs' EMS departments

in the process due to the extra fuel costs and time involved in transporting patients the longer distance.

Ms. Magee said there is no plan now for what will happen to the building once it is vacated, "but we are committed to being a good neighbor," she said.

In the LTV report, Judy Dyda, manager of community planning at the South Side Local Development Co., said a public meeting on the widening of East Carson St. between 25th and 34th streets will be held on Aug. 26 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at an undetermined site.

Officials of PennDOT and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh will be present. Bids on the work will be opened on July 31, with a firm chosen in mid-August.

Construction is expected to begin in mid-fall. So as not to impact Christmas shopping, there will be stoppages in November during which off-Carson St. work will occur.

The project is expected to be completed at the end of 2010.

To a question about a proposed GetGo convenience store with gas pumps and car wash, she said no action has occurred.

The zoning would have to change for this project to take place as it is not permitted under the zoning code.

In the evening's final business, Josette Fitzgibbons, of the Mayor's Advisory Committee on the South Side, circulated the newest draft of the Good Neighbor Cooperation Memorandum.

The document, which is not legally binding, operates as a pledge by participating parties — such as landlords, renters, business owners, and community groups — to comply with all applicable laws; to cooperate to establish the safety and prosperity of the South Side; and more.

While it is only for Carson St., the goal is to expand it onto other streets.

In response to comments from forum groups, the newest draft is "watered down" so as not to sound "so legal," said Ms. Fitzgibbons. Also to make it appear less legal, instead of the forum signing the "pledge," the pledge will be on forum letterhead.

If approved, said Ms. Fitgibbons, a "kick-off day" will be held in September during which Mayor Ravenstahl will walk on Carson St. getting businesses to sign on.

Forum members were urged to call her or Megan Stearman with any additional proposed changes so the document is ready for a vote at the forum's next meeting on September 9.


Reader Comments(0)


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2021