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West Penn Allegheny Hospital to Reopen

Highmark and West Penn Allegheny Hospital officials announced on Wednesday morning that the emergency room at the Bloomfield hospital will reopen, services will be expanded, and the façade will be redone in the coming years.

The formal announcement was made to a room full of hospital employees who cheered in response.

The hospital closed its emergency room nearly a year ago, citing financial concerns. Since then, Highmark, an insurance company, has merged with the hospital system. They have filed merger papers with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. Those plans have yet to be approved by state and federal regulators. Kenneth Melani, President of Highmark, said that he has had conversations with officials in Harrisburg and feels confident that the papers will be approved.

"Areas like Bloomfield, the last thing the legislators want to see is another blighted area, another blighted community," he said.

Officials expect the project to be built in three phases. In early 2012, the emergency room will reopen with renovations to some of the technology used. There will be 24 beds and a new observation unit. The first phase of renovations will cost approximately $18 million dollars.

Single hospital rooms will increase from 300 to 350 in number, and there will be an expansion of the hospital's labor facilities. The neonatal intensive care unit is planned, as well as increased office space for physicians.

Two hundred new jobs will be created at the facility.