Tube City Community Media Inc. is seeking freelance writers to help cover city council, news and feature stories in McKeesport, Duquesne, White Oak and the neighboring communities. High school and college students seeking work experience are encouraged to apply; we are willing to work with students who need credit toward class assignments. Please send cover letter, resume, two writing samples and the name of a reference (an employer, supervisor, teacher, etc. -- not a relative) to tubecitytiger@gmail.com.

To place your ad, email tubecitytiger@gmail.com.
Ads start at $1 per day, minimum seven days.

UPMC Closes 2 CCU Beds in McKeesport

Spokesperson: Shift was done to better use resources

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
June 30, 2023
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Two critical-care beds have been eliminated at UPMC McKeesport hospital, but a spokesperson for the health system says the shift was done to better utilize resources, not as a prelude to downsizing.

Sarah Deist, a spokeswoman for UPMC Health System, said the critical care unit has been transitioned to what’s called a “high-acuity” unit to support patients who need additional care beyond a typical medical-surgical floor.

The National Institutes of Health define a “high-acuity” unit as a hospital unit that provides “more acute care and closer monitoring than a general hospital ward,” but not as resource-intensive as intensive-care or critical-care units.

No staff positions were eliminated, Deist said. An intensive-care unit is offered at UPMC East in Monroeville, she said.

“The care we provide for in-patients is based on their acuity and needs, and McKeesport operates as part of the UPMC network, with the advantage of access to robust resources and capabilities,” Deist said. “Nearby UPMC East is the tertiary hub for the area with a full-service intensive care unit.

“It's part of our all-day, everyday (effort) to continuously assess patient needs to ensure those we care for receive the right care in the right settings,” she said.

Despite rumors on social media, the move is not a prelude to any downsizing of UPMC McKeesport, Deist said.

“This is nothing new — something we’ve always done at UPMC is continuously assess and adjust to stay ahead of patient and community needs,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the union which represents nurses at UPMC McKeesport said the decision to close the CCU is still disconcerting.

“We see this happening — units and departments closing — in our hospital and hospitals across the country,” said Lyn Musser, a registered nurse at UPMC McKeesport and a member of SEIU Healthcare PA.

“We are still learning what impact this change will have on us and our patients and, naturally, we have ongoing concerns about the changing healthcare industry,” Musser said. “However, because we have a union here at McKeesport, nurses have a voice in the process and we are involved in this transition.”

UPMC McKeesport Hospital admitted 5,423 patients in 2021, the most recent year for which official state data is available. The hospital was licensed for 204 beds but set up for 150 beds in 2021, according to the state Department of Health.

In 2021, state data indicates that in Pennsylvania, UPMC McKeesport was UPMC’s 11th-largest hospital by bed count. There were 13 smaller hospitals.

Average occupancy rate of the hospital in 2021 was 75 percent, state data indicates, 13th-highest in the UPMC system in Pennsylvania.

Select Speciality Hospital, which leases space on the UPMC McKeesport campus, operates an additional 30 beds in the facility for critical illness care.

UPMC East is licensed and set up for 155 beds and admitted 7,490 patients in 2021, state data indicates. Average occupancy rate in 2021 was 84.3 percent.

Jason Togyer is the volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. and editor of Tube City Almanac.

Originally published June 30, 2023.

In other news:
"New Renzie Market Add…" || "Advocates Praise New …"