Submitted Members of the Highlands Hospital board met recently to hear the “state of the hospital” report.
Highlands Hospital in Connellsville, an independent, nonprofit acute care hospital, continues to expand its services, upgrade its facilities and add jobs, according to its state of the hospital presentation at its most recent board meeting.
Listed 16th of Fayette County’s top employers, Highlands “employs 367 staff at an average annual salary of $49,000,” according to the report. With planned expansion and new services, the hospital expects to add an additional 50-80 new jobs. The hospital estimates the total economic benefit to the region’s economy at “$52 million annually and more than 500 jobs,” based on U.S. Department of Commerce industry multipliers.
Driving the expansion is the addition of new services, especially those at the Center for Health & Community Impact, the former Zachariah Connell Elementary School, which closed in 2013 and was purchased by Highlands Hospital in 2015 for $207,000, according to a news release from state Rep. Pat Stefano (R-32nd).
The hospital received a $1 million state grant in 2016, Stefano’s release said, to help finance the conversion of the 47,000-squarefoot building at 700 Park Street to house the hospital’s transcranial magnetic stimulation service to treat depression and the Highlands Hospital Regional Center for Autism.
According to Vicki Meier, director of development, the autism center moved into the building in August 2018. The building also houses the TMS treatment and telepsych programs and, she added, will also house a women’s health center, which will focus on breast health, gynecology, nutritional counseling, behavioral health and holistic wellness services.
“The idea is to have a one-stop center for related services,” Meier said.
The board also reported that a 14-bed extended acute inpatient behavioral health unit was added to its existing behavioral health services for individuals who would benefit from a longer hospitalization. The unit features four private rooms and five semi-private rooms on the third floor of the hospital. An additional 30 employees are expected to be needed for the new unit.
In addition, the hospital continues its Opioid Center of Excellence program, one of 45 programs statewide funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Service.
All of the services added and planned for the hospital and the center are responses to the hospital’s Community Health Needs Assessment. In the latest CHNA for Highlands, 2018, the hospital identified behavioral health (including autism and PTSD), diabetes and women’s health (including senior care) as priority services. The 2018 CHNA can be viewed on the hospital’s website under the About Us tab.
The presentation also reported that $650,000 was spent in capital purchases and upgrades for operating room and laboratory equipment, new IV infusion pumps, radiology technology and new roofing. The board projects $1 million in capital purchases for the current fiscal year.
The board also stated that inpatient stays declined while the number of outpatient recipients increased by nearly 18 percent, which is consistent with current industry standards.