The emergency department at West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield will reopen on Valentine's Day, after being closed for more than a year. The move comes as part of Highmark's $745 million takeover of the West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS). The new facility features 23 patient beds in private rooms, all new medical equipment, and a fast track patient triage system.
"For Highmark and West Penn Hospital, these improvements represent an important milestone for both organizations as we look to build a health care delivery system that focuses on the needs of the patients and provides value to the community," said Dr. Kenneth Melani, President and CEO of Highmark.
In addition to reopening the emergency department, the hospital has been treated to a few technological upgrades, such as a 128-slice CT scanner for x-rays, which will be installed in March.
"For those who aren't clinicians, it's like getting a high-definition television versus the old black and white TVs. The images are absolutely amazing, and will help us to better diagnose and treat our patients," said Dr. Thomas Campbell, chair of emergency medicine for WPAHS.
The hospital will also upgrade the intensive care unit, increase patient capacity, return cardiovascular services to the hospital, and remodel the lobbies and waiting rooms.
WPAHS laid off about 1,500 workers when the hospital was downsized in 2010. More than 2,000 people have applied for jobs when this reopening was announced, though the facility won't be able to hire that many. Still, local and state lawmakers and hospital officials who attended an announcement on the reopening on Monday said the facility will be a boon to the local communities.
"The reopening of this emergency room will also ensure that the West Penn Hospital will remain a major economic driver for this region," said Dr. Melani. "It will provide a wide variety of employment opportunities."