The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 28, 2013

‘There is a lot new at Windber’

Randy Griffith

WINDBER — The end of an obstetrics program that made way for an expanded gynecology program and a newly modernized physician office wing that will allow for an expanded emergency department are just two of the highlights at Windber Medical Center.

“There is a lot new at Windber,” President and CEO Barbara Cliff said.

Renovations are complete and doctors have begun seeing patients at the Windber Professional Building near the corner of Seventh Street and Somerset Avenue. The building is attached to the hospital and formerly housed the Medical Group of Windber offices, Cliff said.

“It will now be a multidisciplinary office space for physicians,” Cliff said, adding that the new facility is designed for surgical practices.

By relocating practices now housed in the hospital’s oldest wing near Fifth Street and Somerset Avenue into the new professional space at the opposite side of the complex, demolition will begin to make way for a long-awaited emergency department expansion.

“It is exciting because it is new space for our physicians,” Cliff said. “And it is one step in the process of building the new emergency room.”

The obstetrics program at Windber ended March 31, after two doctors left the area and the remaining two obstetrician/gynecologists shifted to an expanded gynecology practice.

“It will transition and expand woman care services that we will be launching in the weeks to come,” Cliff said last month. “We will be able to accommodate a lot more women with gynecological services by excluding obstetrics.”

The new program is still in a period of flux as it ramps up, Cliff said. A formal launching of the new woman care services program is being planned for a later date, she said.

In the meantime, both Somerset Hospital and Conemaugh Health System’s Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown have expanded their obstetrics capacity.

Windber is also expanding its services through a telemedicine partnership with Geisinger Health System of Danville. The tele-stroke initiative announced earlier this month connects Windber patients with a Geisinger neurologist.

“It will allow our patients who are having symptoms of a stroke to have an emergency consultation with a neurologist,” Cliff said. “Using telemedicine to connect with the larger hospital, you have almost instant access to the highest level of specialties.”

The Geisinger doctor is able to observe Windber patients in real time by video conference. The neurologist consults with Windber’s doctors, who are in the room with the patient, she said.

Looking toward the future, Windber is wrapping up a community needs survey to identify health factors in the hospital’s service area. Obesity stands out as a concern, Cliff said.

“We will be looking at how to address adult obesity,” she said.

“That is really No. 1 on the list.”

Financially, Windber ended the most recent fiscal year in the black, Cliff said, reporting a 2 percent margin.

At 517 workers, overall employment is down slightly from last year’s 526.

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