November 23, 2005

Mercy Sells Pittsburgh Hospital, to Move Psych Services

By Joe Fahy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Nov. 24--The Pittsburgh Mercy Health System has sold its psychiatric hospital on the North Side to a Louisville, Ky., company and will transfer those services, with a reduced number of beds, to its Uptown flagship early next year.

Officials said yesterday that Mercy's North Shore campus, at 1004 Arch St., was sold for $5.4 million to Kindred Healthcare, which plans to convert the facility into a 110-bed hospital for patients needing long-term acute care and subacute skilled nursing care.

After renovations, Kindred plans to open the new hospital by the fourth quarter of 2006, said Mary Pat Stroia, Kindred's director of business development.

Kindred already offers long-term acute care hospital services in Oakdale and Beaver, and also operates hospitals, nursing centers, institutional pharmacies and a contract rehabilitation services business in many other states.

Inpatient behavioral health services and evaluation and referral of behavioral health emergencies will continue at the North Shore campus until March, Ken Eshak, Mercy Health System's president, said in a statement. Those services, pending regulatory approval, will then be provided at Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, Uptown.

Mercy's North Shore facility currently has 126 full-time equivalent employees. "We expect a majority of those people will move with the programs and services," though other employees might fill other positions within Mercy's health system, said Mercy spokeswoman Linda Ross.

Some might be offered jobs at Kindred's new facility, Ms. Stroia said.

Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh will expand its emergency department to include a 24-hour evaluation and referral center for behavioral health emergencies.

Two unoccupied medical-surgical units will be converted into a 24-bed adult behavioral unit and a 10-bed unit for substance abusers who have mental illnesses or mental retardation.

Due to limited space, those units will offer fewer beds than the existing North Shore facility, which has 31 beds for adults and 20 for people with mental health and substance abuse problems, Ms. Ross said.

Mercy is still working to find space to relocate a unit that serves the psychiatric needs of geriatric patients. Ms. Ross said the current unit has 12 beds for those patients.

The Arch Street building was erected in 1953 by the Sisters of Divine Providence, who operated it for four decades as Divine Providence Hospital. It was sold in July 1993 to Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and was renamed Mercy Providence Hospital. It operated as a general services hospital until January 2004, when it became an inpatient behavioral health facility.

Mercy Behavioral Health, which provides outpatient mental health and substance abuse services, will not be affected by the consolidation of inpatient behavioral health services, Mercy officials said. Those services and medical offices will continue at the Arch Street site and will not be affected by the renovations, Ms. Stroia said.

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