St. Clair Hospital – Celebrating 60 Years


Pittsburgh in 1944. A nation at war and a city at work. It was a booming manufacturing center and
factories lined the riverbanks. The city was bursting at the seams, and inevitably,
people began moving to the outskirts, where there was space, clean air and the promise
of new modern housing. But, as the population of the South Hills
swelled to more than 104,000 people, the residents were at a disadvantage to access healthcare. The city of Pittsburgh had great hospitals,
but getting to those hospitals from the South Hills was difficult and time consuming. A prominent Mt. Lebanon Physician, Arthur
S. Haines, inspired the community. And it is those members of the community who
we remember on this anniversary The business leaders who volunteered their expertise, the children who sold flowers, the volunteers who went door and the group of 40 women
who formed an auxiliary to support the Hospital, an effort they called “Together We Can Do
It.” These dedicated women spearheaded fundraising
efforts that included bake sales, raffles, card parties and fashion shows. A 30-acre plot of land on Bower Hill Road
was purchased for the Hospital by local businessman and civic leader Arthur Silhol. Ground was broken on Bower Hill Road on October
20, 1951. And three years later, with 104 beds and 35
bassinets, St. Clair Hospital opened February 22, 1954. More than 10,000 community members attended
the open house. This same day, several hours before the doors
officially opened, two-year-old Antonietta Daris arrived as the first patient. Five other patients were admitted on that
inaugural day of operation, including a woman in labor who gave birth to St. Clair’s first
baby on February 23. Her middle name Clair marked the occasion. As the Hospital consistently exceeded 95 percent
occupancy rates, plans for additional expansion were needed. And once again, the entire community took
part in raising funds for growth. Technological advances included the addition
of the world’s fastest X-ray processing machine. Breakthroughs in critical care were at the
forefront, as the Hospital added a new ICU and a state-of-the-art Coronary Intensive
Care Unit. Expansion in the 60’s made room for an additional
140 medical beds, new operating rooms, a larger maternity department, an outpatient area,
and expanded ER facilities In 1974, St. Clair initiated efforts to establish an emergency
transport network via ambulance began in the South Hills. For a decade, admissions and surgical operations
doubled, and emergency and outpatient visits tripled This rapid growth continued throughout the
70s, driving an increase in staff, and demanding another major expansion ― the largest in
St. Clair history. The Hospital added 99 beds and doubled its
square footage, a cause for community celebration Throughout the United States, the 80’s were
a time of innovation and technological advancement … and St. Clair remained on the leading
edge with a focus on new technologies and increased access to advanced care. St. Clair began using a new CT scanner, helping
physicians make more accurate diagnoses and improve treatment. Meantime, new openings included an outpatient
surgery center, an Occupational Therapy department and a new GI Lab. Also at this time and Greater Pittsburgh Cancer
Treatment Center and the South Hills Magnetic Imaging Institute began taking patients. In 1989, the emergency department added a specialized
treatment area to more quickly serve patients with less severe illnesses and injuries. As we addressed the evolving needs of patient
care, St. Clair remained ahead of the healthcare curve. A state of the art cardiac cath lab opened
and St. Clair dramatically changed the landscape of hospital pharmacy nationwide when it launched
the first robotic drug distribution system. To enhance patient access to care, a helipad
was built, and a Courtesy Van Transportation Service was launched through Auxiliary funding. The Hospital emergency department was upgraded
with the most advanced medical equipment and a new ‘C’ wing was added. In response to the high incidence of heart
disease in the community, St. Clair began offering advanced, comprehensive coronary
services at the new Heart Center. As a new century dawns, St. Clair is now one
of the region’s leading healthcare providers and widely recognized for technology, innovation
and patient outcomes. In 2004, St. Clair deployed hand-held barcode
scanners for medication administration and invented the first dual scan hand held device,
Veriscan. The system further reduces medication errors
and significantly improves patient safety. The device invented here is now the standard
of care across the country. With the capacity to serve 80,000 patients
per year, the new ER quickly becomes the region’s busiest … but also with the shortest wait
times. Hospitals across the country and abroad visit
St Clair to study its use of “lean engineering” to improve their own processes. The hospital also achieves the highest ranking for patient satisfaction of hospitals nationwide. Attracting leading physicians is crucial to
a hospital’s success, and St. Clair’s staff continues to grow with top-notch doctors
who choose to work here. St. Clair is ranked among the 100 top hospitals
in the nation and is now providing advanced, high-quality healthcare to more than 480,000
residents of southwestern PA and is the largest employer in the South Hills. St. Clair surgeons are now using the world’s
most advanced robotic surgery system, the Da Vinci SI in a specially designed OR suite. And specialty services continued to grow,
including the opening of a new Breast Care Center and Sipe Infusion Center, and the expansion
of the Cancer Center. The Outpatient Center at Village Square more
than triples in size and the brand new Outpatient Center in Peters Township opened. January 2014 brought the opening of St. Clair’s
first Urgent Care, offering non-emergency medical services 12 hours a day, seven days
a week by board certified physicians. In the last 60 years, St. Clair has evolved
from a small general hospital to a highly honored, fiercely independent, medical center
with 328 beds and five satellite locations, 550 physicians and 2200 employees treating over 280,000 patients each year. Performing more than 14,000 surgeries annually. The hospital offers advanced, high-quality care in specialties,
including heart, oncology, orthopedics, mental health, women’s and children’s services
and more. But St. Clair still belongs to the people
of this community who helped make it the thriving institution it is today. It is truly a Community Vision that Came to
Life.

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