Three-hospital Pittsburgh Mercy Health System said it is seeking local, state and federal approval to eventually stop operating 132-bed Mercy Providence Hospital, Pittsburgh, as a general acute-care facility and covert it into an inpatient behavioral health hospital. The multistep, multiyear process would expand the hospital's psychiatric beds to 75 from 43, officials said. The first phase, slated to begin in early 2004 and be completed by April, would convert a medical-surgical unit into a 20-bed psychiatric unit. Officials said there has been more demand for psychiatric services since the October 2002 closing of St. Francis Health System in Pittsburgh. They also said they hoped that converting to behavioral healthcare services would help solve Mercy Providence's financial ills. The plan calls for eventually closing all general inpatient services, including emergency care. Outpatient services would remain open. Officials said the decision is unrelated to the recent announcement that Gregg Zoller, Mercy's president and CEO of four years, had left the system. -- by Cinda Becker
Pa. hospital may be converted to behavioral care
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