Allegheny Health Network

Chuck Balcik / Allegheny Health Network

Forbes Regional Hospital will open an expanded intensive care unit next week that will look more like a 21st century ICU than the current unit that was opened more than 40 years ago. The facility in Monroeville is an accredited Level II Trauma Center, and will be adding a 20-bed ICU.

“This is a mixed medical and surgical trauma intensive care unit,” said Michael Hansen, MD, medical director of the ICU, “we’ll be able to provide the highest level of critical care treatment to the patients that come not only locally, but also from the whole eastern corridor.”

On Monday, nearly five years after UPMC shut down their Braddock hospital, competitor Allegheny Health Network and Highmark opened an urgent care clinic in the community.

“We believe everyone in our region should have the opportunity to live healthier, happier lives,” said Patricia Lieberman, chief operating officer of the Allegheny Health Network.

The 12-patient room facility is in a space that was once a surface parking lot for the hospital.

Allegheny Health Network has announced a multi-year collaboration with Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine. This is in addition to a partnership announced earlier this year between the two institution’s cancer centers. This collaboration will, among other things, explore ways to be more economically efficient.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny Health Network has announced a new academic affiliation, allowing medical students to train at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville.

Students from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) will be able to do their clinical rotations at the hospital. AHN officials said this move is critical to the future of health care in the region.

The cost of hiring an interpreter or sign language specialist to communicate with hospital patients can reach up to $70 per hour, but suburban Pittsburgh hospital might have found a cheaper and more effective alternative.

Forbes Hospital in Monroeville recently starting utilizing iPad-based software called “Language You See,” which provides interpretational and sign language services at the touch of a button.

With the hope of being able to help epilepsy patients who have not responded to other treatments, Allegheny General Hospital Friday opened a unit designed to monitor and evaluate those who suffer from the condition.

The division includes four private rooms, each equipped with a video camera and an EEG (electroencephalography) device, which, combined, allows physicians to record patient behavior and their neurological activity.

Julian Routh / 90.5 WESA

Rather than having to go from doctor to doctor for health care, Highmark patients will soon be able to get the care they need all under one roof.

Officials from Highmark Health and the Allegheny Health Network unveiled the new Health + Wellness Pavilion in Wexford Tuesday afternoon, less than two weeks before its opening to the public.

The 175,000 square foot facility, deemed a "medical mall," will house an array of retail, diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic healthcare services.

With the hopes of catching lung cancer in its earlier, more curable stages, West Penn Hospital, is offering a free screening program for those at risk.

“If you find a patient and there at stage one they’re potentially curative the five year survivor rates are significantly higher, and it’s at almost 90 percent, so it places a huge impact on healthcare cost if you’re diagnosing patients at stage one versus stage four,”  said Dr. Lana Schumacher, Allegheny Health Network Esophageal and Thoracic Institute Co-Director.

Starting Jan. 1, 2015, no workers, visitors or patients will be allowed to smoke on any Allegheny Health Network grounds.

“Anybody whose walked into any facility, health care or otherwise, who has to walk through smoke or be exposed to smoke, it's not a pleasant thing if you're not a smoker," said Allegheny Health Network spokesman Dan Laurent, "particularly in a facility that’s dedicated to preserving health and promoting health.”

Smoking is already not allowed inside Allegheny Health Network facilities.

Paramedics and EMTs undergo hundreds of hours of training to know how to respond to a health emergency, but sometimes, nothing can take the place of a physician’s input. Allegheny Valley Hospital is the first in the state to solve this problem by allowing its paramedic response units to connect patients to hospital physicians via iPad in an initiative called “telemedicine.”

An Update on the Ebola Outbreak

Aug 5, 2014
European Commission DG ECHO / Flickr

The death toll from the Ebola virus in West Africa continues to climb. With two Americans infected with the disease coming back to the U.S. for treatment, health officials are trying to calm fears that an outbreak could happen here.

A five-year agreement between Allegheny Health Network and Johns Hopkins Medicine has been signed, finalizing a partnership between AHN and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Washington, DC.

“Cancer patients and their families benefit and their outcomes improve when we share knowledge and expertise because then we can accelerate knowledge transfer and treatment advances outside of communities where patients live,” said Dr. David Parda, system chair of the AHN Cancer Institute.

May is World Asthma Month, and in an effort to raise awareness of diagnoses, treatments and other asthma-related issues, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals gathered for a one-day summit.

One of the goals is to draw attention to how many asthma sufferers there are in the Pittsburgh area.

Allegheny Health Network has been designated by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) as an official Olympic Regional Medical Center.

“As a participating center, one of just six in the country, we will have the great privilege of playing a prominent role in the health and well-being of our nation’s elite Team USA athletes,” said Dr. Patrick DeMeo, chair of the AHN Orthopedic Institute.

@aerial_m / Flickr

Studies show the rate of childhood asthma in Allegheny County is around 13 percent, higher than the national rate of 9 percent.

An Allegheny General Hospital study is underway to more precisely determine childhood asthma rates in the region and exactly what triggers the respiratory disease.

Dr. David Skoner, Division Director in asthma, allergies and immunology for the Allegheny Health Network, is a co-director for the study.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny Health Network and Johns Hopkins Medicine have announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding between their two cancer centers.

When finalized, Allegheny Health Network and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center will collaborate on several initiatives, share research and participate in joint projects, among other things.

Flickr / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

It’s hard to know exactly how many kids have asthma in the Pittsburgh region but a study is underway aimed at determining just how prevalent it is and what some of the triggers may be. Nearly 25 million Americans and more than 9 percent of children suffer from Asthma. National and state studies show the rate of childhood asthma in Allegheny County to be around 13 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 715,000 Americans have a heart attack each year. 

The Allegheny Health Network hopes to help these people with its new “First Contact-to-Balloon” initiative.

“First Contact-to-Balloon,” refers to the time when a patient first calls for a paramedic to when their blocked blood vessel is actually opened.

The initiative will enable Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers to diagnose patients from the field and then alert hospital cardiac catheterization teams to prepare for their arrival.

Innovative Concussion Evaluation Technology

Sep 25, 2013
GENuine 1986 / Flickr

According to the Center for Disease Control, almost 2 million people each year suffer from concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.

In the sports world, concussions have been in the limelight as athletes come forward with reports of lasting affects from the brain injuries they sustained while playing. As a result, the sports community is becoming increasingly aware of how important it is to properly treat a concussion and gather as much data as possible close to the time of impact.

C3 Logix is a new, innovative concussion evaluation technology that provides on site data collection at the time of injury, to better aid physicians in diagnosis and treatment. The program is loaded into an iPad and before the season starts, athletes perform a series of neurocognitive tests. The program tracks the athlete’s visual reflexes and their ability to focus on moving objects. Results of these baseline tests can then be compared to data logged in incident reports at the time of suspected brain injury.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

New mobile technology being used by the Allegheny Health Network will allow physicians to better diagnose and treat concussions.

C3 Logix uses a computerized neurocognitive exam through a unique iPad app. The iPad is strapped to a patient’s back and can detect even minute movement.

Twenty-five million people in the United States have asthma, and that number is growing every year.

Research by the Allegheny Health Network is now underway that examines whether high levels of particulate air pollution in the Pittsburgh area are connected to an increased number of asthma attacks known as exacerbations.

Pittsburgh has taken great steps to move away from being one of the most polluted cities in the nation, but tiny fragments of pollution generated from the burning of fossil fuels called particulates still pose health problems for those with asthma.

Research by a Pittsburgh physician could help women diagnosed with ovarian cancer determine the most effective chemotherapy treatments with their doctors.

The study, led by Dr. Thomas Krivak, assistant director of Gynecological Oncology at West Penn Allegheny Health Systems, supports the ChemoFx chemoresponse assay, a tool used to accurately predict how individual women will respond to platinum-based chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.

Highmark Inc. and its recently formed healthcare arm Allegheny Health Network are hoping Carnegie Mellon University will be able to dive into the systems’ terabytes of patient care and payment data to find industry changing breakthroughs. 

CMU’s Allen Russell will head the Disruptive Healthcare Technology Institute. He believes the healthcare industry, as a whole, has been resistant to what he calls “disruptive change,” like what the mobile phone did for communications or the personal computer did for mainframe computing.