Essential Pittsburgh
3:53 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Neighborhood Bonds: A Partnership Between Allegheny General Hospital & the Northside

View of Allegheny General Hospital and surrounding neighborhoods from Frank Curto Park along Bigelow Blvd.
View of Allegheny General Hospital and surrounding neighborhoods from Frank Curto Park along Bigelow Blvd.
Credit Rob Bratton / Flickr

Twenty five years ago an interesting partnership developed between North Side neighborhoods and the Allegheny General Hospital. That partnership continues today and has proved to be beneficial on both sides. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Diana Nelson Jones recently reported on this collaboration.

We took a further look at how large institutions and neighborhood groups can work together to increase the quality of a community.

Mark Fatla Esq., Director of the North Side Leadership Conference described the relationship at the start of the partnership in 1989. “The neighborhoods viewed the hospital as the 800 pound gorilla and a lot of folks within the hospital viewed the neighborhood as annoyances, pests.”

But this problem would not last.

“Out of conflict can come productive results. And i think at the time, both sides realized, that ‘well we could just keep fighting each other or we can work to resolution and work together.’”

Debra Caplan, Senior Vice President at Allegheny General Hospital agrees that it took a lot for the change to take place even from the hospital's standpoint.

“At that time the hospital administrative leadership began to understand that the way in which to grow with the community, and the way in which to live as the largest employer on the North Side - and AGH is the largest employer on the North Side - was to develop a relationship. I mean all relationships, as you know, have give and take to them. I think, obviously, there were things that the community had expectations of the hospital and I’m sure the hospital also wanted to, at that time, expand its borders. So I think they realized that if they wanted to make this work they needed to work together.”

Since this time the neighborhood and hospital have developed many projects including farmers market events and funds for parks in the area, with many future projects on the way.