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Hospital committed to patients and community

Uniontown Hospital CEO Steve Handy talks with volunteers Wayne Orr and Joy Lynch on a recent tour of the hospital.

By Frances Borsodi Zajac


Anyone who hasn’t entered Uniontown Hospital in recent years may be pleasantly surprised to discover renovations that offer a more welcoming appearance and enhance patient care.

“I believe hospitals need to be clinically sterile but should not be emotionally sterile,’’ said Steven Handy, CEO of the facility located at 500 W. Berkeley St. “People turn to us in their time of need when they have pain, a fear of a diagnosis that may change their life or sorrow. All this is designed to bring a softness to that experience.’’

Renovations include adding wood laminate flooring, walls with natural, calming colors and framed photographs of the Laurel Highlands throughout the hospital as well as signage that is well placed and easy to read. The parking lot is landscaped with boulders and mountain laurel.

The chapel recently added a new stained glass window, designed by Handy and donated by Handy and his wife, Laurie. Featuring the four seasons, it incorporates the Great Cross of Christ at Jumonville in the fall scene and Summit Mountain in the winter scene.

“Helping people find spiritual strength in dealing with health challenges helps in recovery,’’ said Handy, noting the Emergency Department is adding a Reflections Room where family can gather to deal with emotional challenges.

In the past year, the hospital also marked the completion of a project to make all 160 inpatient rooms private as work was finished in June 2017 on patient unit, 1 East.

“We’re one of the first hospitals in Western Pennsylvania to have all, modern private rooms,’’ said Handy, noting it allows not just for privacy but infection control.

The $3 million, 1 East renovation project included 22 rooms for oncology, dialysis, med-surg and palliative care patients. Each room was equipped with a dialysis hookup to allow for bedside treatment.

This came a year after the facility finished a $2.2 million renovation project to the second floor that now houses the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU), Pediatrics Unit and Infusion Service Center.

“These renovations to inpatient rooms have continued while a major overhaul of Surgical Services has moved into its third phase and as exterior campus renovations – including parking lot upgrades and a new main entrance – have been completed,’’ according to the hospital.

Summer 2017 also saw the hospital launch of a new campus shuttle service that transports patients and visitors easier and faster back and forth from the parking lots to the hospital’s main entrance.

The Will Ride Campus Shuttle features six-seat electric golf carts with roofs and doors that are piloted by volunteer staff. The service is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The hospital reported a new fleet of 300 wheelchairs, donated by Volunteer Services, became available in Summer 2017. A wheelchair is now attached to each patient room. Wheelchairs are also available at the main entrance to assist patients and visitors.

A new Education Center, located on the first floor of the Uniontown Medical Pavilion building on the hospital campus at 100 Woodland Ave., opened in July 2017.

The $1.1 million renovation project included two simulation rooms - one with a medical/surgical focus and one with a labor/newborn focus – for education and hands-on training.

Uniontown Hospital announced in August 2017 its newly renovated laboratory received accreditation from the College of American Pathologists along with accreditation from the American Association of Blood Banks for blood bank operations.

The hospital said this came as work was completed on Phase 1 of a $1 million renovation of the department that included a new hall of administrative offices, a staff lounge with a fully equipped kitchen area and staff locker rooms with private bathrooms. A state-of-the-art blood bank section with a receipt and distribution area was completed in mid-August.

“The last portion of Phase 1 included a new phlebotomy and processing section,’’ according to the hospital. “This area includes a large intake area for all samples received for testing, an area for couriers dedicated to sample drop off and pick up, a supply storage area and workstations for the 30 phlebotomists on staff. Phase 2 of laboratory construction will begin in spring 2018 and includes a new histology laboratory.’’

Uniontown Hospital in September 2017 began offering expanded Interventional Radiology services, an alternative to traditional surgery for some procedures that include epidural steroid injections, infusaports, biopsies, arthorograms, thoracentesis, paracentesis, aspirations and joint injections.

The hospital explained, “Interventional radiology utilizes digital imaging to perform minimally invasive procedures that then diagnose or treat diseases. It is possible to use this technology to repair the body with only tiny incisions or even with no incisions at all.’’

The hospital began offering an all-new Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation for area cardiac patients in February.

The Cardiology Department, recognized by the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association for exceptional care, offers individualized treatment plans for cardiac patients that bridge the gap between inpatient care and long-term maintenance programs.

One of the top providers of interventional cardiac care in the region with more than 1,000 patients receiving care annually in the Cardiac Cath Lab and more than 9,000 patients treated each year in the Cardiac Diagnostic Center, the hospital is also partnered with Uniontown YMCA to offer a long-term Cardiac Rehabilitation Maintenance Program.

Most recently, the hospital acquired all new patient beds at a cost of $1.5 million for more than 160 beds.

They feature more comfortable mattresses that are longer to accommodate taller patients. Each can be converted into an airbed by attaching a pump at the bottom of the mattress, helping prevent pressure injures. The new beds have an alarm light system to assist nurses checking patients.

Talking about the changes in the hospital, Handy said, “We want to create an environment that people in our area want to come to.’’

As to the future, the hospital has acquired property to create a 20-acre campus to improve access, safety and viability. The hospital hopes to eliminate a hazardous intersection on Delaware Street where it will create a new entrance with parking that includes a parking garage along West Berkeley Street for employees. The hospital is currently pursing financing and approvals for this project.

Handy said, “We are meeting the challenges of the industry with confidence and strength and we’re optimistic about the future.’’

Meanwhile, Uniontown Hospital remains an important part of the local economy, employing about 1,200 people.

Handy notes each makes a commitment to the hospital’s mission: “We will make a healthy difference in the lives we touch.’’