In many ways, the city streets around the University of Pennsylvania are a square mile of urban havoc.
Who came this way to Pennsylvania? The hordes of bankers and lawyers and “real” professionals. Does the laundry go there?
The east end of the city, where the University of Pennsylvania and several smaller universities are located, has a medical component that’s second to none. In fact, it’s best known for its hospitals and surgical facilities, such as the Fox Chase Cancer Center, whose patients spent $2.4 billion there in 2015.
Still, there are gaps in the hospital system, and many young professionals and students think of the city as a place to go for treatment.
Celia McDaniel, 23, who was a hospital resident and now works at Wyckoff Heights Hospital, an outpatient facility, is one of them.
“On campus, you can see people who have been there for days or weeks,” she said. “If I need surgery or something, I am closer than I would be in New York.”
Nearby Wyckoff Heights Hospital covers a 40-block area in Harrisburg. The medical facility was acquired by the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-1980s, and now operates as a subsidiary. There are five operating rooms and 700 beds, and 149 operating rooms for rehabilitating patients. Wyckoff Heights Hospital also hosts specialists in neurosurgery, orthopedics, plastic surgery, urology, neurology, dermatology, otolaryngology and otolaryngology-mesothelioma surgery.
“Sometimes patients come here that have never been to a hospital before,” said Dr. Morris Ruszala, medical director of acute care at Wyckoff Heights Hospital. “They love to see the gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows.”
Dental, cosmetic, orthopedic and respiratory services are also available at Wyckoff Heights Hospital.
The hospital was built in the early part of the 20th century. While some of the buildings were included in the Philadelphia skyline, such as La Salle College Hall, it retains a log-of-shops feel. Inside the entrances and on the walls are old photographs from different times in the hospital’s history.
The dialysis center has an old-fashioned hospital attitude and yet it is a massive facility. You have to work at it, as if you were a patient. You feel the next check-in is an important one. The unit has 32 beds, with full medical and surgical care.
Dick Gregory, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014, likes Wyckoff Heights Hospital for treatment for his cancer. But he also likes how the staff is friendly.
“When we’re here, we stay for at least an hour, sometimes more,” he said. “I can’t recall my last experience being unoccupied, no matter how long.
“It’s basically a working hospital,” he said. “You see a lot of people. They’re friendly and they look out for each other.”
Nearly every office building in the vicinity of Wyckoff Heights has a service desk.
“It’s the only thing here,” said Beth Harris, president of the Midtown Harrisburg Association. “It’s the whole underbelly of the city. It’s what everyone asks me about.”
Harris runs a successful event planning business from her home across the street. She doesn’t often worry about parking, she said, as she is right across the street.
Harris said she likes being in downtown Harrisburg because the number of restaurants is constantly growing, and there are also new stores and establishments for her to patronize.
“It doesn’t feel like a town,” she said. “The restaurants have a downtown feel, and the shops downtown are more residential and more formal. In New York, the restaurants and nightclubs put on a party downtown. There’s no party. That’s a point of pride.”
She and her husband live in a building that was built in 1910 and is the oldest two-story brick home in Harrisburg. At the summer Fourth of July party, she took a 360-degree view.
“You can see the Schuylkill River, which is usually a very dark, brackish water, but it’s so blue and clear, it’s beautiful,” she said. “And all the restaurants along the river just give