The University of Pennsylvania Health System opened an $80 million facility in Southwest Philadelphia on Monday to consolidate sterilization of surgical instruments from sites at its hospital and Pennsylvania Hospital.
The sterilization center, designed to be nearly dust-free, has the capacity to clean thousands of instruments daily, from scissors and clips to surgical tools used at the end of robotic arms during brain surgery.
It takes in used surgical instruments, cleaning and repackaging them while avoiding cross-contamination. Steam from purified water cleans the instruments in stainless steel machines.
The facility, called the Interventional Support Center, employs 165 people. It is Penn’s second significant recent investment in Philadelphia outside Penn’s core University City neighborhood. In September, Penn agreed to front up to $30 million for the acquisition and repurposing of Mercy Philadelphia Hospital.
By consolidating the sterilization and packaging of surgical instruments for as many as 200 surgical cases a day, Penn said it will free space for patient care. The 110,000-square-foot facility will serve the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), Pennsylvania Hospital, and three outpatient facilities, the Perelman Center in University City, Penn Medicine Radnor, and the Tuttleman Center at the former Graduate Hospital on South Street.
“By moving our processing operations from the traditional hospital setting to an offsite, dedicated facility, we’re able to increase efficiency in a high-quality, cost-effective way — all while keeping up with increasing demand,” said Chris Pastore, managing director for the new center, which will cut down on duplication of equipment across the Penn system.
Surgeries are typically the most profitable segment of health care.
Penn, which said the facility is the only one like it in Pennsylvania, purchased the building at 3250 S. 76th St, in the Eastwick section near Philadelphia International Airport, for $14.3 million in 2018. It has space for additional projects.
The new center will also support Penn’s $1.5 billion Pavilion, now called HUP East, when it opens this fall with 500 patient rooms and 47 operating rooms. The Pavilion is across 34th street from HUP, behind the Penn Museum.
In a similar move, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is working on an $80 million facility at 63rd and Market Streets to house supply-chain, procurement and other services that are now scattered around CHOP’s University City complex. Scheduled to open early next year, the logistics center will also supply CHOP’s new hospital in King of Prussia.