UPMC Children’s Hospital Expands Care to Central Pennsylvania

By: Kathryn Olon

In November, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (“UPMC”) will open a new pediatric inpatient unit in Harrisburg.  Located at UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg, this new facility will boast a 26-bed unit with 11 new private rooms designed for universal use. The inclusion of universal-use rooms will allow children to stay in the same room over the course of their hospital stay and provide them with the appropriate level of care without having to move throughout the hospital.  Such rooms have increased higher-quality outcomes and improved patient and family experiences at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

In addition to the comprehensive care team on-site, the team will be supported by specialists in Pittsburgh through 24/7 access to bedside telemedicine.  This will provide patients and their families with real-time consultation with specialty care providers, and allow families to receive high-quality care closer to home. 

Developed due to an increase in the need for such care in central Pennsylvania, the new unit will build on UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg’s existing strengths in neonatology and obstetrics.  It will be located above the Women and Babies Center and is accessible from a dedicated, secure elevator.   Designed with families in mind, the new inpatient unit will include:

  • Age-appropriate furniture, activity tables, and computerized interactive displays for children of all ages.
  • A lounge designed to provide a respite area for parents whose children are in the hospital.
  • Dedicated, trained child life specialists to support patients’ psychosocial and developmental needs by working one-on-one with patients and in group activity areas in coordination with providers and families.

The three pediatric cardiologists already employed at UPMC Pinnacle will be joined by several pediatric subspecialists who will travel to the region from Pittsburgh regularly.  These specialists specialize in areas including pulmonary, transplant, and neurology.  Additionally, UPMC has hired a pediatric surgeon and pediatric GI physician to work at the Harrisburg location.

This inpatient unit serves as the latest part of the overall initiative to expand UPMC Children’s Hospital’s recognition outside of southwestern Pennsylvania.  As more hospitals join the UPMC system in recent years, UPMC has expanded into other states, including West Virginia, Ohio, and New York. 

As UPMC Children’s Hospital enters central Pennsylvania, it faces a new challenge not present at the existing locations: competition. Also located in central Pennsylvania is Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, which is currently undergoing a $148 million expansion.  And in Philadelphia, there is the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, another top-10 ranked children’s hospital. Despite this, there remains a large need for this care in central Pennsylvania.  With Pittsburgh 3.5 hours away and Philadelphia 2.5 hours away, many families in Harrisburg may wait up to four to eight weeks for a pediatric appointment. By bringing world-class-care to these areas, UPMC hopes to shorten these wait times.

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