ommunity groups want UPMC to keep them in mind as they plan $2 billion expansion

Groups protesting Tuesday say they’re not against the $2 billion expansion announced by UPMC last November, they’re against not being consulted about it.

UPMC’s expansion would build three additional hospitals in Pittsburgh; specifically, in Oakland, Shadyside and Uptown.

At a planning commission meeting Tuesday, specifically for the expansion of UPMC
Mercy, over 110 people signed up to speak.

Many of those people are demanding a seat at the table.

City Council is requiring UPMC to come up with a community benefits agreement for each of these projects.

In short, the council would have to sign off on a specific plan to address the needs of the nearby communities.

Some groups already worry they’re not being heard.

“We demand the participation of community stakeholders, neighbors, workers, residents, people of faith, advocates, patients. Our perspective is essential,”
said Jennifer Rafanan Kennedy, of Pittsburgh United.

Specifically, these groups want UPMC to take action to keep housing prices low, increase wages, help low-income families and help with opioid treatment.

They also want increased access to care.

Brittney Eckert is a cancer survivor and was recently told her plan will no longer be accepted at UPMC.

“Those doctors saved my life from a cancer that should have killed me. And now, due to the fact that in two years, there’s an 85% chance that my disease is coming back, that I have to find new doctors and start all over again,” Eckert said.

For its part, UPMC Mercy President Michael Grace says the hospital is committed to its neighbors and the community.

UPMC has held community meetings to listen to the needs of the community and has pledged millions of dollars to help low-income families and the homeless.

“These engagement activities have helped us craft and identify and solidify what UPMC Mercy, about what should be specifically included in a community benefits agreement that was discussed with representatives at those meetings and constituents at those sessions,” Grace said.

Pittsburgh City Council will ultimately have to sign off on a community benefits agreement.


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