Lehigh Valley, Pa.,
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Allentown Man’s Multiple Brushes with Suicide Emphasize Importance of Behavioral Health Services

Patient’s story among highlights of LVHN’s Community Annual Meeting

Mark Landy, 56, of Allentown still feels the impact from 40 years ago when he was just 16 and had to identify the body of his sister who was killed in a car crash by a drunk driver.

Landy says he experienced a lot of death in his life and had trouble coping, which led to drinking and drugs to escape reality.

During a video presentation at Lehigh Valley Health Network’s (LVHN) community annual meeting this evening, Landy said he never felt happy. As a result, he tried to commit suicide five times. The last time he contemplated doing so was about a year ago when he was going to jump off the Eighth Street Bridge in Allentown.

When police officers saw him on the bridge, he ran and went to the ER at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)-17th Street and told caregivers he was thinking about hurting himself. Landy received inpatient care at the Behavioral Health Science Center at LVH-Muhlenberg, and at Alternatives, LVH-Muhlenberg’s outpatient program. He currently lives and receives care in the health network’s Transitional Living Center. He worked in construction all his life and is currently studying to become a certified building inspector.

From multiple suicide attempts, Landy now is a peer mentor. He talks with people who are battling a behavioral health condition. “You have to help them understand that you were there,” Landy says. “By that, they can relax and open up.”

Brian A. Nester, DO, MBA, FACOEP, LVHN’s president and chief executive officer, shared Landy’s story to stress how a community’s health is only as good as the health of its most vulnerable people and that investments must be made to care for them, including behavioral health.

Nester told the audience of about 200 behavioral health services are among the most pressing needs identified in the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) for the Lehigh Valley and Hazleton regions as required by the Affordable Care Act.

“While health care providers nationwide are closing behavioral health facilities and discontinuing services, LVHN continues to operate one of the outstanding behavioral health programs in the nation.”

Nester cited LVHN’s Behavioral Health Science Center at LVH-Muhlenberg, which provides inpatient care for adults and children; the network’s partial hospitalization programs for providing care and allowing patients to return home daily; behavioral health group practices and clinics; and the Transitional Living Center, where Landy receives care, that assists people with positive lifestyle changes through support, supervision and instruction in the recovery of daily living skills. LVHN treated more than 20,000 behavioral health patients in approximately 120,000 visits in a recent 12-month period.

As behavioral health care needs continue to grow and services in some communities are being reduced or eliminated, many other community needs also require attention. LVHN helped to address those needs as more than 80,000 people were cared for under the health network’s Reduced Cost-of-Care program over the past five years. Just last month, LVHN provided more than 10,000 free flu shots to the community to prevent the spread of influenza this season. Since 2009, more