First Look: St. Clair Health’s Dunlap Family Center

The newly rebranded St. Clair Health is about to open a new outpatient center, its third, adjacent to St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon.

The $152 million project has been underway for two years and in the planning for longer than that. It was completed recently, with work continuing even during the Covid-19 pandemic, and is set to have a grand opening in early May.

The 280,000-square-foot facility and seven floors will accommodate the 130% growth in outpatient services that St. Clair has seen since 2006. There are 10 operating rooms for outpatient surgery, two procedure rooms, an endoscopy suite with six exam rooms and 51 pre- and post-surgical rooms.

CEO Jim Collins said the growth in outpatient services led to the Dunlap center, which was started by a gift from Anna and Ed Dunlap, founder and CEO of CentiMark Corp., and then funded also with a campaign that brought in donations from around the St. Clair Health community in the South Hills.

Building the center allows the hospital to expand the health care needs even further.

“Certainly we think we can accommodate another 130% growth over the next 10 years,” Collins said. Chief Medical Officer John Sullivan said the facility will have the same great patient care and service that is a hallmark of the hospital and its system, which regularly wins top honors from IBM Watson, Leapfrog and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

One of the features of the center that St. Clair is most excited about is on the seventh floor, where there’s a series of specialty clinics that are connected in front and also in back so that patients and different specialists can together meet with patients and decide upon or update the course of treatment. The layout and process were inspired by the Mayo Clinic’s Gonda Building for outpatient services in its Rochester, Minnesota, clinic.

“That’s something that will be unique in this market,” Collins said.

Most patients in endoscopy and surgical will also be welcomed in a hoteling-type setup, where they begin and leave all from pre- and post-acute rooms instead of the traditional curtains. It’s where their families can also stay while the procedures are being done. Another feature that they brought back was the idea of a specialty pharmacy inside the outpatient center, something St. Clair is doing in collaboration with Walgreens.

The Dunlap Family Outpatient Center’s opening also is part of the hospital’s initiative to rezone its campus, which is located in a neighborhood in Mt. Lebanon and is a pretty tight fit, especially in the front. The hospital, which has been around for nearly 70 years, remains in place but locating the outpatient center on campus required extensive construction and the moving slightly of a road. Collins said the Dunlap Family Outpatient Center was designed with patient convenience in mind. Patients will be able to drive directly underneath the center to the parking garage there instead of the existing hospital garage. Where there used to be parking issues at the hospital there won’t be anymore, because hospital visitors will be able to park in the one lot and then outpatients and their families in the new lot underneath the center.

“You need never try to navigate the rest of the campus at all,” Collins said. “That’ll be a tremendous benefit to outpatients and also allows us the time and the breathing space to go back and rethink the inpatient portion of our campus.”

While nothing has been decided yet, it’s likely that the spaces where outpatient care was delivered inside St. Clair Health’s hospital will be converted to operating rooms, medical imaging and other areas for inpatient care, said COO Michael Flanagan.

Before deciding on a design for the center, executives toured other similar facilities in California, Chicago and Miami, as well as expansions into Arizona and Florida by its partner, the Mayo Clinic. He said that the final design took bits from each as well as what St. Clair executives and physicians knew was needed locally.

“This facility was two and a half years in construction, but it was many, many years in development,” Collins said.


By – Paul J. Gough – Reporter, Pittsburgh Business Times