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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A groundbreaking Thursday morning marked the beginning of construction on UPMC’s new Vision and Rehabilitation Tower.

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The nine-story, 410,000 square-foot tower will be linked to current rehab units at Mercy Hospital, expanding UPMC’s advancement in vision and rehab treatment for some of the most critical patients.

“I’d like to think that this put Mercy appropriately on par with Presby and Shadyside and our other specialty hospitals, so it’s very exciting,” said Michael Grace, president of UPMC Mercy.

The tower will be the first of three new building projects for UPMC, part of a $2 billion investment. Bishop David Zubik, of the Pittsburgh Diocese, blessed the new building. UPMC Mercy is the only Catholic hospital in the Pittsburgh area.

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“This project secures the presence of Mercy well into the future and I think it’s really important and for us as church to have our presence in the medical field,” Bishop Zubik told KDKA’s Lisa Washington.

UPMC executive leaders say the new tower will be a place for everyone, making Pittsburgh more attractive for patients and physicians. With the expansion, Pittsburgh will be first in the country to have six specialty care facilities.

“We’re bringing different disciplines together like no other place in the world,” said Gwen Sowa, Director of UPMC Rehabilitation Institute. “[It] will be a wonderful resource for our country, but also will be a draw nationally and internationally for our patients with complex disabilities.”

The building is expected to open in late 2022.

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Watch KDKA News at 6 p.m. for more on this story from Lisa Washington.