Penn Highlands Healthcare Announces Transition of Services

Penn Highlands Healthcare is realigning services. Effective May 1, 2024, the health system is transitioning labor and delivery from Penn Highlands Elk to the Maternal and Child Center at Penn Highlands DuBois. The transition is designed to offer a higher level of care for mothers and newborns.

Penn Highlands Elk will continue to offer prenatal and postpartum care, exams, testing, ultrasounds and prenatal classes. Mothers-to-be will continue to see their physician or provider at Penn Highlands Women’s Care in St. Marys throughout their pregnancy. The only difference is that they will deliver their babies at the Maternal and Child Center at Penn Highlands DuBois. All non-labor and delivery healthcare services will still be offered at Penn Highlands Elk.

All Penn Highlands Elk labor and delivery employees will have opportunities for employment within the health system.

”This transition only impacts labor and delivery; all other prenatal and postpartum care and gynecological services will continue to be offered at Penn Highlands Elk,” emphasized Trina Abla, DO, MBA, Chief Medical Officer, Penn Highlands Healthcare. “The shifting of labor and delivery to Penn Highlands DuBois enables Penn Highlands Healthcare to provide more services for mothers and helps newborns have the healthiest start in life possible,” said Dr. Abla.

The Maternal and Child Center at Penn Highlands DuBois includes a maternity unit and certified Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The Center offers:

  • 24/7 labor coverage. Mothers will always have OB physicians onsite.
  • Birthing suites that enable the mother to stay in the same room from the time they are admitted through labor and delivery until discharge.
  • Specially equipped delivery rooms for cesarean deliveries.
  • Advanced technology and state-of-the-art equipment.
  • A Substance Use Disorder Care Coordinator Program for pregnant women with Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
  • Lactation counselors to help new moms after deliveries.

The Maternal and Child Center at Penn Highlands DuBois staffs perinatal consultants who care for women with high-risk deliveries. The perinatologists are experts in medical, genetic and surgical complications of pregnancy and the effects on both the mother and the unborn baby.

The 16-bed NICU at Penn Highlands DuBois is the only NICU in the region – the nearest one is 100 miles away. The Level III NICU offers:

  • A board-certified neonatologist who can provide critically ill and premature newborns with a high level of care.
  • A staff consisting of dedicated nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, speech pathologists and social workers – all with extra training and certifications to work in a NICU.
  • State-of-the-art technology and tools that enable staff to provide the best care possible.
  • Access to a larger blood bank in the event it is needed.

The staff at Penn Highlands Elk and Penn Highlands DuBois will work closely with expectant mothers during the transition to provide support and address their concerns.

Thomas A. Carnevale, MD, FACOG, a board-certified physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology whose maternity patients transitioned from Penn Highlands Clearfield to the Maternal and Child Center at Penn Highlands DuBois nearly a decade ago, maintains that the realignment is beneficial to both the moms and their infants.

“At first, my patients were apprehensive about delivering their babies at Penn Highlands DuBois, but after experiencing the compassionate care and the state-of-the-art facilities at the Maternal and Child Center, they only had positive comments about their experiences. They recognized the benefit that the access to specialists and technology provided to them and their babies,” added Dr. Carnevale.

Penn Highlands Elk has a long history of providing quality care and facilities to the region. With campuses in St. Marys and Ridgway and physician offices in several locations throughout the region, the hospital primarily serves the residents of Elk and Cameron counties. Since 2022, Penn Highlands Elk has recruited 12 new physicians and advanced practice providers in such areas as Emergency Medicine, Optometry, Ophthalmology, Radiology and more. In addition, during the past four years, on average, the health system invested more than $2.8 million per year for capital equipment and technology such as 3D mammography.

In 2022 and 2023, Penn Highlands Elk was recognized by The Chartis Center for Rural Health as one of the Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals and named a Top 20 Critical Access Hospital by the National Rural Health Association. The hospital also has a reputation for high-quality stroke care earning the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Get With the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Award.

Penn Highlands Elk is committed to providing a caring comfortable environment. As part of the health system’s Master Facilities Plan, a $7.5 million renovation was completed to enhance and update the living quarters and public areas at Penn Highlands Elk Pinecrest Manor, the 138-bed skilled nursing facility located on the campus of the hospital. Currently, the $7 million Ridgway Community Medical Building is under construction. The building, which is scheduled for completion later this spring will offer many primary and specialty care services.