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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Three new specialty hospitals will be built on UPMC campuses in Pittsburgh in the coming years, backed by a $2 billion investment.

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UPMC announced the plans for the new hospitals Friday.

“We will announce a dramatic advance in the way UPMC delivers the highest quality care in the region across the Commonwealth and globally,” UPMC President and CEO Jeffrey A. Romoff said.

With those words, Romoff unveiled the $2 billion construction project designed to elevate UPMC to a class of healthcare delivery unmatched in the world, which Romoff compared to Amazon’s rise in retail.

“Amazon, that we are seeking to attract, has disrupted and leaped over the traditional retailing giants, and now Amazon, in fact, is retailing,” Romoff said. “UPMC desires to be the Amazon of healthcare.”

Watch the press conference:

To do that UPMC is building three new specialty hospitals.

The new hospitals include: the Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital on the UPMC Mercy campus; the Hillman Cancer Hospital on the UPMC Shadyside campus, and the Heart and Transplant Hospital on the UPMC Presbyterian campus.

UPMC believes they already have some of the best in the world in heart and transplant, but with a new state-of-the-art facility, melding medicine and science, it’s a win for patients.

“Bringing the best here, patients can rest assured that no matter what happens, you’ve got the best care here,” UPMC Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, Steven Shapiro, M.D., said.

The UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Hospital will dramatically expanding the Shadyside Hillman campus, and patients will find every area of care and access to the latest scientific advances under one roof.

“By the time we open the doors to this hospital, we hope to have turned the table on cancer,” Shapiro said.

Watch John Shumway’s report:


At the Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital, UPMC hopes to become a world-renowned center that restores vision.

“It’s the confluence of business, technology and science, and patient care that creates this vision possibility, and it is amazing to watch,” UPMC Senior Vice President Leslie Davis said.

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Across all the new hospitals, a relationship with Microsoft will put medical information at the professionals’ fingertips anywhere they are, help in diagnostics and telemedicine.

“Making available this technology that you heard [about] today to our rural hospitals, to our hospitals outside of major cities that are in need of specialty care,” Davis said.

The goal is to put UPMC on the lips of people around the world when they think of quality, cutting-edge healthcare technology, which will bring them here to Pittsburgh.

“We want to create the future of healthcare,” Romoff said, “and that means enormous kinds of economic value for the city because people now come to Pittsburgh, they’re gonna come to see these kinds of hospitals, they’re going to come for treatment, they’re going to stay at our hotels, they’re going to eat in our restaurants, and they’re going to help increase the way we’re thriving in this wonderful city.”

Mayor Bill Peduto said his first reaction to the news was “wow.”

“It was ‘wow’ because I realized that Pittsburgh has finally gotten there. We’ve gotten there. After those decades of suffering,” he said.

The UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital is expected to be the first to open in 2020, and the UPMC Hillman Cancer Hospital is expected to open in 2022. An expected opening date for the UPMC Heart and Transplant Hospital has not yet been released.

Watch David Highfield’s report:


The news from UPMC comes on the heels of expansion news from Allegheny Health Network, but AGH is taking a different approach. They’re reaching out into the suburbs.

A healthcare expert says UPMC’s new hospitals are about boosting the brand.

“I think it’s a part of just enhancing the brand and I think, in part, it’s gonna be to provide a better level of care using Microsoft and using technology,” James McTiernan, of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., said, “but it’s really branding it to another level.”

In the meantime, AGH announced last month that it plans to build four neighborhood hospitals – one in the north, one south, one west and one east of the city, plus a major new acute care hospital in Pine Township.

During a taping of the KD/PG Sunday Edition, the CEO of Allegheny Health Network explained that it’s not about not having enough beds, but rather where the beds are.

“There’s plenty of capacity today, but it’s not the right beds in the right places as a community and as a region,” Highmark Health CEO David Holmberg said. “The community doesn’t need another high-cost city center hospital. What we need is access to 24/7 emergency care, primary care and specialty care that’s in the neighborhoods closer to home.”

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McTiernan says major investment by the area’s two biggest health systems would appear to be good news for consumers if it improves healthcare. He added, however, there’s also a cost to it.