UPMC Altoona marks 5th anniversary

Connection with medical giant helps hospital

At UPMC Altoona’s celebration Wednesday of its first five years under the aegis of the Pittsburgh medical giant, Mike Corso was asked to imagine himself on vacation and being asked where he worked.

Six years ago, Corso, the vice president of operations, would have said something like “a mid-sized hospital in central Pennsylvania called Altoona Regional Health System.”

Since July 1, 2013, however, Corso can simply say “UPMC” — a name known throughout the U.S. and in many other countries and an organization that comprises 36 hospitals and 85,000 employees.

“I feel a great sense of pride,” Corso said, as hospital workers partook of a barbeque lunch.

Corso and UPMC Altoona President Jerry Murray touted only benefits when asked what the UPMC acquisition of the local hospital has wrought.

Those include the addition of services, new facilities, a common electronic medical records system, easier retention and recruitment of doctors, growth opportunities for employees and growth in the numbers of admissions and emergency room visits.

The addition of services has meant access to the latest and best practices and technologies, often by telemedical connection, according to Corso.

UPMC has provided those additional services in “hub and spoke” fashion — the hub being the home hospitals in Pittsburgh, the spokes being the outlying hospitals like UPMC Altoona, said UPMC spokeswoman Lisa Lombardo.

The spokes are especially strong as a result of the local hospital’s cancer services being identified with the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh, leading to radiation oncology and medical oncology treatments and access to clinical trials here; and the local hospital’s breast health services’ identification with UPMC Magee-Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, leading to fetal ultrasounds here via telemedicine.