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The University Drive Division of VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System is located in Oakland, adjacent to the University of Pittsburgh’s Petersen Events Center. With 146 beds, University Drive provides medical, neurological, and surgical care in addition to receiving the most outpatient visits of all VAPHS facilities.
Specialized services available at University Drive include bariatrics, speech and audiology, dermatology, optometry/ophthalmology, arrhythmia and arthritis, diabetes assessment and education, endocrinology, gastroenterology, nephrology, pain management and wound clinic, sleep studies, urology, and more. In fiscal year 2011, VAPHS treated patients from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
University Drive's surgical program is always on the forefront of the latest advances in surgical techniques. Below are just a few of our impressive milestones:
The University Drive Division is home to national, independent liver and renal transplant centers, along with a regional cardiac surgery center and an oncology referral center. University Drive’s Women Veterans Health and Renal Dialysis programs have earned recognition as National Centers of Clinical Excellence.
A new, $75.8 million Consolidation Building will open in spring 2012. It is attached to the existing acute care hospital and will house outpatient services and 79 secure, private psychiatric beds.
The Fisher House Foundation is in the process of building a Fisher House on the University Drive campus. A "home away from home," the Fisher House will provide accommodations for Veterans' families so they can stay with their loved one during hospitalization. Scheduled to open in the fall of 2012, this will be the first Fisher House in the state of Pennsylvania.
In addition, the Research Office Building is under construction on the University Drive campus. The $32 million building will encompass more than 65,000 square feet and open in 2013.
In June of 1946, VA acquired 14 acres of land from the University of Pittsburgh and local residents for a total of $798,519. Plans started for a 1,200-bed tuberculosis hospital and then a 1,248-bed medical and surgical hospital. Plans were halted when VA officials realized that an abandoned mine shaft lay underneath the land, requiring extra foundation work and causing the estimated construction cost to rise. Plans were finally approved on April 4, 1949, and in October of 1950 ground was broken. The hospital was designed and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
On September 12, 1954, the dedication and formal opening of the University Drive VA Hospital took place. The Oakland VA was combined with the Aspinwall VA under one director and employed approximately 1,300 people with 742 operating beds. A newspaper reported that the hospital's chief mechanical inspector, Louis J. Shriver, called this new facility the finest in the country. A byline in the article declared "Most Modern in World."
In the 1960s a Blood Bank was operated at the hospital on weekdays where relatives, volunteers or the general public were invited to contribute blood for use of the hospitalized veteran. In March of 1999, construction began on a new Bed Tower addition. The cost of construction and equipment acquisition was $21 million. In 2002 the Bed Tower was dedicated and patients began moving in.
A national initiative to eradicate MRSA infections and enhance patient safety was initiated at University Drive. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an antibiotic-resistant organism that causes many health care-associated infections. Following successful research and the implementation of organizational initiatives here, MRSA-related infections were markedly reduced and inpatient care has been revolutionized. These initiatives and successful findings were shared and implemented at VA hospitals across the country based on the MRSA prevention work done at VAPHS.