Main Line Health's corporate offices are in an adjacent building at 259 Radnor-Chester Rd.
The move is part of a long-planned penetration of the suburbs. Penn's strategy, in an era of mergers among medical practices and competition over HMO clients, is to shift health-care delivery from the hospital back to primary-care physicians.
The Penn Health System, which includes the 700-bed Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, serves about 4,000 residents in Radnor, according to Anita Clavier, associate vice president, in testimony given before the Zoning Hearing Board in March.
"We feel Radnor is an excellent area," Clavier said, explaining Penn's reason for establishing offices in the township. "We know we need to have more geographically distributed services for our patients. We get a number of calls both from current patients as well as others who seek our services, but would like to have us more in the Delaware Valley. We want to be more accessible to them."
Clavier's comments came during testimony in support of Penn's request for additional parking at the site. The request was denied by the Radnor Zoning Hearing Board after it was opposed by Main Line Health, a major health-care conglomerate that will be Penn's most powerful competitor, and some neighborhood civic associations.
Penn representatives were unavailable for comment yesterday.
"We basically feel that competition in health care is not new," said George Hatzfeld, spokesman for Main Line Health, the consortium that includes Lankenau and Bryn Mawr Hospitals and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, as well as a network of primary-care physicians. "Penn Health System has been a presence in the western suburbs for years (in King of Prussia) and presumably is interested in expanding."
Penn's moves have included the acquisition of suburban group medical practices with a goal of forging a network of 200 physicians and specialists to stretch from Princeton south to the Jersey Shore and Delaware, and west to the Main Line. In November 1993, Penn announced its first acquisition: PMA Medical Specialists of Phoenixville, with 25 physicians.
Main Line Health also has been snapping up small medical practices, usually two and three physicians at a time. Since May, Main Line has more than doubled its acquisitions to include 25 individual medical practices. Last month, it announced its affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in a group, to be called Jefferson Health System, that will include Bryn Mawr Hospital, Lankenau Hospital, Paoli Memorial Hospital, Bryn Mawr Rehab and Community Health Affiliates.
At the zoning board hearing in March, Penn officials sought to increase the parking in the Fidelity Mutual building from 361 spaces to more than 610 with a new parking garage. More than 1,000 trips a day would be generated by Penn's medical and business offices, hospital representatives said.
Main Line Health was concerned about the impact of a substantial increase in parking spaces on traffic, Hatzfeld said.
"Traffic in the area already is extremely heavy," he said, "and obviously the Radnor Zoning Hearing Board agreed with this assessment because the application was immediately denied on its merits."