AHN opens Monroeville cancer center |

AHN opens Monroeville cancer center

Dillon Carr

Monroeville welcomed Allegheny Health Center’s newest $35 million addition to its cancer and imaging institutes during a ceremonial ribbon cutting Wednesday.

The AHN Forbes Outpatient Center will replace the Intercommunity Cancer Center and consolidate other services that have been spread throughout Forbes.

The center, touted as the first facility of its kind in Pittsburgh’s east suburbs, will start treating patients on Feb. 18, said Dr. Mark Rubino, president of Forbes Hospital.

Construction on the two-story, 63,000 square-foot building started in January 2018. Rubino said the center still has some work to be completed on the second story, where surgical oncologists are expected to be housed.

Rubino said he hopes the new center will eliminate some of the challenges faced by patients who are seeking specialized treatment. 

“This center is our attempt to simplify that experience, to take some of the stress out of the patient encounter,” he said, adding the facility combines medical oncology, radiation oncology, infusion and imaging.

“It’s all under one roof — integrated, coordinated. Providing compassionate care in our community and by our community,” Rubino said.

Joining the audience of about 100 were Monroeville officials, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, state Rep. Brandon Markosek and a representative from Sen. Jim Brewster’s office.

Also in attendance was Clare Perteete, 69, of Murrysville. She completed treatment for breast cancer in January at the old facility just next door. The cancer survivor said she is confident new cancer patients will be in good hands.

“They’re all very nice. They’re going to get thorough, compassionate care. And it’s all in a convenient location,” she said.

The center is part of AHN’s plan to build up to 10 community cancer centers across the region as part of an expanding partnership with John Hopkins Medicine, a health care system based in Baltimore, Md.

AHN’s parent company, Highmark Health, said it will invest nearly $300 million to build similar cancer centers through 2020 in Western Pennsylvania.

There are another five being developed in Westmoreland, Erie, Butler and Beaver counties, which will serve as satellite campuses to the hub at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh’s North Shore that is expected to open later this year.

Highmark Health’s president reiterated the health care system’s commitment to offer “public access” to all patients, a statement he made after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro asked a state court to intervene and force rival UPMC to accept out-of-network patients at affordable rates.

“The work that’s being done here represents the paradigm that is truly changing in health care,” said David Holmberg, president and CEO of Highmark Health. “Our commitment to you is we’re going to preserve health care choice in this region. We’re going to preserve competition, so it’s your choice where you go. We’re going to support broad public access to facilities like this. So regardless of your background, regardless of your ability to pay, you’ll have access to world-capability.”

Perteete joined Donna Snyder, 57, of Murrysville, in “ringing the bell” during Wednesday’s ceremony, which is typically done when a cancer patient completes treatment.

“Ringing the bell is a special ceremony … to these patients, it’s come to symbolize joy and hope for the future,” Rubino said.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter @dillonswriting.