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UPMC Breaks Ground on New UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation at UPMC Mercy

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PITTSBURGHUPMC today broke ground on the new UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation at UPMC Mercy, which is being designed for the many patients in the Pittsburgh region and beyond who need physical rehabilitation and those who have diseases of the eye or vision impairment.


The facility, part of UPMC’s $2 billion investment in specialty care, is projected to open in late 2022 and will position UPMC at the global forefront of rehabilitation and ophthalmic research and care.


Once constructed, the 410,000-square-foot tower will house nine stories of collaborative space for clinicians, researchers, educators and industry partners. 


“The tower will merge UPMC’s pioneering research and outstanding clinical care in vision and rehabilitation, allowing our physicians and scientists to translate our revolutionary science and research from bench to bedside, all to benefit our patients,” said Leslie C. Davis, senior vice president, UPMC, and executive vice president and chief operating officer, UPMC Health Services Division. 


“This is the first of the three new building projects that will provide a level of specialty care that is distinct to Pittsburgh and to our health system. Our unparalleled investment will make Pittsburgh the first city in the country to offer individualized care at six specialty facilities,” added Davis.


The new building will include an innovative, fully mocked-up apartment and street lab where patients can go through simulations that teach them critical life skills, enabled by vision performance testing and physical and vision rehabilitation. Other areas include exam rooms, an optical shop, a pharmacy, therapy stations and a UPMC Centers for Rehab Services gym. 


Linked by a bridge to the current inpatient rehabilitation units at UPMC Mercy, the new tower will significantly expand the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute’s capacity for outpatient and follow-up care. Patients and clinicians also will have access to world-renowned researchers who are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in rehabilitation care and utilizing novel technology to facilitate comprehensive recoveries, including advanced robotics and brain computer interface research. 


The tower rooftop will be dedicated to an outdoor rehabilitation garden, where vision and rehabilitation patients can practice negotiating everyday obstacles like ramps, stairs and curbs and different surfaces such as concrete, wood and cobblestone. The garden will offer patients a safe and healing environment in which to prepare for real-life experiences.


The state-of-the-art facility also will offer gene and cell therapies to treat diseases of the eye. Other vision services for patients will include high-resolution imaging and state-of-the-art ocular testing, laser-assisted cataract surgery, micro-invasive ocular surgery and more than 25 scientific teams developing the therapies of tomorrow to fight blindness. In addition, an urgent care eye clinic for eye and vision emergencies with extended hours where patients can access ophthalmologist specialists directly. 


“In the 11 years that UPMC Mercy has been part of the UPMC family, we have experienced incredible growth and transformation, with this new tower being the most significant to date,” said Michael Grace, president, UPMC Mercy. “Our patients are at the heart of everything we do, and the exceptional research and care that will take place within the walls of this building will benefit our patients in the decades to come.”


The tower adds to UPMC’s depth of advanced specialty care for patients at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.


Architecture firm HOK, based in New York and Washington, D.C., designed the new tower, which will be built by MascaroBarton Malow.