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UPMC Hamot

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Patient Care Tower Offers Beacon of Hope For The Region and The Erie Community

A purple light shines brightly on UPMC Hamot’s new, $111 million patient care tower in downtown Erie — a symbol of hope and promise for critically ill patients and their families.

Soon, the new tower also will be illuminated with blue and green lights for 24 hours whenever a kidney transplant is performed at UPMC Hamot, the first and only transplant center of excellence in the region.

“Those lights symbolize life and the color of CORE (the Center for Organ Recovery and Education),” explains UPMC Hamot President David Gibbons. “We use lighting as a beacon to share with the community and the region — a beacon of  hope and life.”

The completion of UPMC Hamot’s Patient Care Tower located at East 2nd and French Streets, which connects the main hospital and Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot, has been one of the region’s most highly anticipated building projects to date. It is the largest construction project in the hospital’s 140-year history and a major infusion in the ongoing revitalization and transformation of Erie’s downtown and bayfront area.

The tower also represents a portion of the approximately $420 million in investment that UPMC has made in Hamot facilities — and the growing need for critical care in Northwest Pennsylvania, Northeast Ohio and southwestern New York — since the health system and hospital merged in 2011.

Today, UPMC Hamot is a sprawling health-care campus, housing medical professionals and specialists, as well as technologies and services that were previously unavailable within a 100-mile radius of Erie.

The seven-story, 200,000-square-foot patient tower has two floors with 64 private beds dedicated to critical care patients. This increases the total ICU bed count by 22, and includes 32 medical ICU rooms, 16 cardiovascular ICU rooms and 16 trauma-neuro ICU rooms. The patient tower also features an expanded MRI suite that will house the 3 Tesla MRI, as well as enhanced infrastructure for water, power heating, cooling and ventilation, and additional floors for future growth.

“Our Board was steadfast on the idea that we’re going to make an investment that’s going to take us decades into the future, so we needed to construct a facility that could accommodate that growth,” Gibbons explains. “Part of the analytics was looking at patient acuity and the severity of their critical care needs. We saw that continuing to increase and that’s why we are adding ICU beds.”

Brian Iavarone, director of Facilities and Construction at UPMC Hamot, has been a part of the tower project since its inception in 2014 and construction began in 2018. He also oversaw many of the UPMC Hamot facility upgrades and construction projects, including Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot and renovations at the main hospital. However, designing and building the patient care tower was truly unique.

“The tower is the most complex project that’s ever been done here at UPMC Hamot from a technical standpoint,” says Iavarone. “You have to protect those who are the most vulnerable, so all the systems in the hospital — whether it’s fire protection or building controls, medical gases or emergency power — have to be coordinated and integrated into our existing utility plant. All of that took a lot of coordination with our existing facility managers, utility companies, the City of Erie, Erie Fire Department and Erie Water Works. It was truly a collaborative effort.”

Read more in the February 2021 Business Magazine.