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Hospital secures major USDA loan

USDA Pennsylvania State Director Curt Coccodrilli speaks at a press conference announcing a nearly $27 million loan secured by Uniontown Hospital.

Uniontown Hospital announced Tuesday that they have been awarded one of the largest United States Department of Agriculture loans in the state to move forward with a major campus renovation in the coming years.

The nearly $27 million Rural Development loan through the USDA will allow the facility to continue plans to construct a three-story parking garage as well as a new patient and visitor entrance and other enhancements at the acute care facility, located on Berkeley Street in Uniontown.

The $32 million upgrade has been a part of strategic plans at the 160-bed community hospital for several years as hospital leaders worked through the scope and scale of proposed upgrades and began pursuing the funding necessary to make the plans a reality.

“We recognized the needs of our patients for ease of access to care and their desire for a safe, reliable and aesthetically pleasing hospital campus,” Uniontown Hospital CEO Steve Handy said. “This is our commitment to making a healthy difference for them.”

Handy said that campus improvements have already begun to take effect after Uniontown Council agreed to vacate portions of several city roads to allow the hospital to continue toward their campus goals. The move resulted in the closing of a portion of Delaware Avenue and eliminated a hazardous intersection between Delaware and Berkeley Street.

While the price tag of the Campus Vision and upgrade make it historic and unique, the hospital has seen regular change in recent years with multiple renovations designed to continue to meet the care needs of Fayette County residents. 

“I believe hospitals need to be clinically sterile but should not be emotionally sterile,’’ Handy said. “People turn to us often on their worst days, in fear and in pain, and we want to make sure we are doing all we can for them.’’

In recent years, all in-patient departments have undergone significant renovations, and all patient rooms are now private with new beds and wheelchairs, furniture and décor.

In 2017, the hospital invested more than $3 million in renovating 1 East, including 22 rooms for oncology, dialysis, med-surg and palliative care patients. Each room was equipped with a dialysis hookup to allow for bedside treatment.

That came on the heels of a $2.2 million renovation project to the second floor that now houses the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU), Pediatrics Unit and Infusion Service Center.

A new Education Center, located on the first floor of the Annex on the hospital campus at 100 Woodlawn Ave., opened in July 2017, with the $1.1 million renovation project featuring two simulation rooms - one with a medical/surgical focus and one with a labor/newborn focus – for education and hands-on training.

The hospital also recently upgraded and renovated their laboratory and finished a refurbishment of their ICU earlier this year.

The hospital is pursuing the parking garage, which will be constructed along Berkeley Street to create a safer parking environment for patients, visitors and staff and to strengthen campus connectivity, Handy said.

“Our commitment is always to our patients. We want them to have ease of access and we want them to be safe while navigating our campus. We feel that the installation of this new entrance and new parking lot layouts will reduce their walk into the facility and keep them safe from traffic hazards.”

Handy noted that the hospital began campus improvements with overhauling patient parking three years ago, also constructing a new main entrance and acquiring properties along Berkeley Street.

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