From the August 2, 2002 print edition
Pittsburgh Business Times
Pediatric research center under study
Plan hinges on Children's occupying St. Francis
Suzanne Elliott and Lynne Glover
LAWRENCEVILLE -- A plan to move Children's Hospital from Oakland to St. Francis Medical Center could involve the construction of a $100 million, 250,000-square-foot pediatric research facility.
Sources said recent discussions among interested parties included building a research center behind the hospital's chapel.
Officials from UPMC Health System and Children's Hospital began exploring the idea of taking over the St. Francis campus after they determined that building a new hospital in Oakland would take too long and disrupt its operations.
UPMC has recently zeroed in on the struggling St. Francis as a site for the new Children's hospital. St. Francis posted an operating loss of $70 million in 2001.
By mid-month, St. Francis is expected to file a petition with the Orphan's Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas that would dissolve the three-hospital health system. Once St. Francis enters receivership, a plan is expected to be presented that, if accepted, would relieve St. Francis of its debt obligations and transfer ownership to Children's Hospital.
Sources say that architectural renderings of the St. Francis campus renovations have been created. Downtown-based L.D. Astorino Cos. is serving as architect for the Children's project.
To speed up the development time frame, Children's is expected to use St. Francis' existing beds. Renovation of the facility could total $80 million.
The time frame for a new research center is not known. If the plan moves forward, it would rank as one of the region's largest construction projects. By comparison, UPMC's Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside, which is scheduled to open shortly, cost $104 million.
It's not clear what is planned for Children's facility in Oakland. Last year, UPMC unveiled a $600 million plan that included a new Children's Hospital, a child and adult outpatient center and a University of Pittsburgh Biotechnology Center.
UPMC Health System acquired Children's last year. As part of that acquisition, UPMC promised to spend $250 million on a new pediatric hospital. Another $250 million was promised as an investment in expanding Children's clinical and research programs during the next 10 years.
Highmark Inc., the region's dominant insurer, is believed to be involved in the negotiations with UPMC and Children's about a new pediatric facility in Lawrenceville. Highmark, now immersed in contract negotiations with UPMC Health System, had previously offered to help finance a new Children's Hospital if it remained independent.
In U.S. News & World Report's annual ranking of "America's Best Hospitals," Children's ranked sixth in pediatrics in the nation. The survey was compiled from the responses of 180 board-certified physicians.
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. MS. GLOVER may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Francis Children's Hospital...has a nice ring to it. Who is up to a petition drive???