Today, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is opening a new 156-bed hospital in Monroeville. UPMC expects the facility to create a few hundred new jobs.
The new $250 million UPMC East hospital is about a mile away from the Forbes Regional Medical Center run by UPMC's rival, West Penn Allegheny Health System.
UPMC East President Mark Sevco said it was not built to compete with Forbes Regional. "Our focus isn't on Forbes at all. It's about spreading out and smoothing the demand for UPMC services across our system," said Sevco.
The goal, according to Sevco, is to serve the patients who feel it is a hardship to drive into the city and to help relieve the pressure at UPMC Shadyside where there are frequently not have enough beds to cover patient demand.
On any given day, there are 90 people from the eastern suburbs going to UPMC Shadyside for elective treatment like a joint or hip repair.
"I would say it is a competition and we will treat it as a competition," said Forbes Regional emergency room doctor Harshad Wadhar, "and we want to be better in the competition, and that's always the goal: to be better, one up over the other."
Forbes gets 50,000 visits to the emergency room department a year.
There's another reason the new facility irks some people. Two years ago, UPMC closed a hospital six miles away in Braddock, which is one of the region's poorest communities. UPMC has said it was closed because it was underutilized and losing money. State records have disputed that claim. Braddock community executives are expected to protest the opening of the hospital.
Protest organizer Tony Buba said, "For the cost of the new UPMC East, UPMC could have kept UPMC Braddock open for 40 more years. In addition, UPMC annually loses nearly double the amount of money at its Beacon hospital in Ireland than it claims it lost at UPMC Braddock."