Braddock Mayor John Fetterman referred to it as a profoundly dark period — the year that UPMC shuttered its hospital in his community.
On Thursday, he stood with about 40 officials from Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network, patients and community members to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Braddock’s Urgent Care Center. More than 4,000 patients have been treated at the center, and officials expect that number to surpass 6,000 in the coming year.
“The community really demonstrated the trust for the center and for the physicians, and that is the most gratifying thing,” said Dr. William Johnjulio, AHN’s chair of family medicine. “With your presence, we are convinced more than ever that it was the right thing to do.”
As part of the celebration, Highmark announced a $200,000 grant for a year-long community health improvement plan focused on mental health, substance abuse, cancer screening and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
“We have many high hopes for the years to come that this will be a vital resource for the community, in Braddock as well as the surrounding areas,” said Evan Frazier, senior vice president of community affairs for Highmark, Allegheny Health’s parent company. “We want to make sure that everyone in this region has an opportunity to benefit from this center being here.”
The urgent care center opened about five years after UPMC closed its Braddock hospital. In closing the 123-bed hospital, UPMC cited annual losses of $4 million to $12 million. UPMC officials at the time said the hospital was underused. UPMC built a $250 million facility about 10 miles away in Monroeville.
“I can’t thank Allegheny Health Network enough for making a commitment to Braddock,” said State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Wilkins, who has a district office in the same building as the center on Braddock Avenue. “Allegheny Health Network stepped up big time when that other company decided to leave us. It was great and it was needed, obviously. They are setting a standard.”
The Braddock Urgent Care Center is staffed by board certified physicians, registered nurses, medical assistants and radiology technicians. It has 12 patient exam rooms and diagnostic capabilities that include X-ray imaging and blood work. Its hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.
“This has been one of the most transformative things that has happened to our community since I have been here in Braddock,” Fetterman said.
Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or [email protected]