Highmark Inc.'s Wexford Medical Mall will be a "one-stop shop for all of your health-care needs".
That's what Highmark President and CEO William Winkenwerder said Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the 174,000-square-foot facility in Pine Township that will cost nearly $100 million.
Construction of the medical mall at 12311 Perry Highway (Route 19) will be completed in summer 2014, officials said.
"Today's announcement is an important milestone in our efforts to transform the delivery of health care in Western Pennsylvania," said Winkenwerder.
The massive structure will be "patient-centered and a state-of-the-art patient experience," he said.
Allan Klapper, system chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at West Penn Allegheny Health System, explained that the mall will make life easier for patients by providing a variety of services in one spot.
Currently, a woman needing ob/gyn care might need to travel from the North Hills to Pittsburgh and the South Hills to get specific services.
With the comprehensive care that will be offered at the Wexford Medical Mall, a woman will be able to have a wellness visit as well as getting a mammogram, blood work and fill a prescription all in one spot.
The medical mall also will offer child care to make it easier for patients to get to appointments.
Dr. David Parda spoke about how the medical mall will make life easier for patients as they deal with the "overwhelming diagnosis" of cancer. Parda is the system chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology and system chair of the Cancer Institute for West Penn Allegheny Health System.
Parda said the mall will help keep patients out of the hospital and close to home, family, friends and the community.
In addition, the medical mall will offer physical and occupational therapy with a therapy pool; a Visionworks store; imaging services for MRIs, CT Scans, ultrasounds and more; pediatic care; cardiac care; an ambulatory surgery center; and a resource library.
A cafe and demonstration kitchen also are included. The kitchen will be used to teach people how to cook and eat healthfully.
Pine Township's Planning Commission recommended approval of the medical mall plans when it met Monday evening. It is an advisory body to the township's Board of Supervisors.
Planning Commision Vice Chair Pasquale Avolio said Monday night that he was concerned about the property's non-profit status because it was formerly owned by nearby North Way Christian Community.
A Highmark representative emphasized Thursday that it will pay real estate taxes on the property.
Supervisors Chairman Michael Dennehy said the supervisors will vote Jan. 7 and no major issues remain after the planning commission's review.
"We're happy to have something like this come into the township," he said at Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony.
The medical mall is a much-needed facility in the North Hills area that has been dominated by one insurer-medical provider, Dennehy said.
"Competition is good."