PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Highmark said it was buying West Penn Allegheny Health System Tuesday. The KDKA Investigators have learned that the announcement may involve major changes at West Penn Hospital.

A $50 million grant will be given to West Penn Hospital to save it from shutting down.

Sources close to the deal told KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin that there are much bigger plans to re-open the emergency room and more than double the number of beds in use.

If you walk in the front door of any business on Liberty Avenue, folks are smiling.

“I think it’s the best news we’ve heard in a long while,” Tom Papa said.

Papa has been cutting hair just across the street from the hospital for 14 years.

“We need people to do the business. We need the people. No people no business,” Papa said.

Business dropped all over Bloomfield last January when West Penn closed its emergency room, and laid off a couple hundred employees.

Highmark would not discuss the possibility, but did talk about opportunity.

“This is a system that is going to grow. It is only going to grow. So from the community perspective, this will be a win for the community in terms of overall job growth over time,” Highmark CEO Dr. Ken Melani said.

Griffin talked with West Penn and Highmark regarding the plans for the hospital.

They would not confirm any plans to re-open the West Penn emergency room.

Sources close to the deal say the plan could take six months to a year.

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