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More than a year after explosion, McKeesport’s 9th Street Clinic reopens in new, permanent space

A brown one-story building with a blue awning.
Kate Giammarise
90.5 WESA
The new location for the 9th Street Clinic is 1305 5th Ave., McKeesport. The clinic sees adults without health insurance one day a week. It's previous home was destroyed in a gas explosion last year.

McKeesport’s 9th Street Clinic, a free primary care clinic serving uninsured adults, has a new home on Fifth Avenue in downtown McKeesport.

The clinic had been operating out of a temporary space at UPMC McKeesport since an August 2022 gas line explosion destroyed its prior home in an old YMCA building.

The new facility, which opened a few months ago, is a big upgrade. The temporary hospital space had only 2 exam rooms. The new offices have a reception area, waiting room, triage room, four exam rooms, lab space, pharmacy and offices.

“The patients have really commented on how nice it is to be separate from the hospital setting and to have more room,” said Dr. Yui Sugiura, clinic medical director, who also serves as associate program director for the UPMC McKeesport family medicine residency program.

An exam room at a medical clinic.
Kate Giammarise
90.5 WESA
Inside the new location of the 9th Street Clinic in McKeesport, a free clinic for adults without health insurance. The old location was destroyed last year.

UPMC said patient volumes had gone down by about half when the clinic moved into the temporary hospital location. The clinic is an independent nonprofit, but Dr. Sugiura is a UPMC employee and some UPMC residents gain experience in the clinic. It is also staffed by volunteers as well.

Many of the clinic’s patients are there for conditions such as hypertension and diabetes; others are in between jobs and need work physicals or medical testing.

“We're a clinic that sees patients transitionally, between jobs. But we also have patients that have been with us since the beginning, from 2007. We do see patients that need a [primary care physician] that just do not have the ability to do so otherwise. And we offer a lot of preventative screenings as well,” said Dr. Sugiura.

The clinic originally opened in 2007. One of the clinic’s founders, Dr. William Markle, still volunteers there about once a month. The health care landscape has changed considerably since that time, he said.

“What really helped … was when the state expanded Medical Assistance [Medicaid],” in 2015, said Dr. Markle. States had the option to expand the program to cover more low-income individuals as part of the Affordable Care Act.

“And when they did that, it took in a whole bunch of folks who were just right on the edge, you know, and it took them into Medical Assistance. And our [patient] numbers dropped about half and have sort of stayed there, I'd say, since that time. So, yeah, it made a big difference.”

The 9th Street Clinic, 1305 5th Ave., McKeesport, sees adults without health insurance on Thursdays from 1 to 7 p.m. For more information, call (412) 664-4304.

Kate Giammarise focuses her reporting on poverty, social services and affordable housing. Before joining WESA, she covered those topics for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for nearly five years; prior to that, she spent several years in the paper’s Harrisburg bureau covering the legislature, governor and state government. She can be reached at or 412-697-2953.