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Celebrating the Pocono Merger

The merger is official

Pocono Health System is now part of Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). After a news conference and ribbon joining ceremony with LVHN Board Chairman John Stanley, LVHN President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brian Nester, DO, MBA, FACOEP, LVH–Pocono Acting President Elizabeth Wise and Pocono Health System Board Chairman Andy Worthington, a celebration was held for the newest members of the LVHN team.

Meet the Acting President

Elizabeth Wise (left), Acting President of LVH–Pocono, and anesthesiologist Musa Tangoren, MD, share how they will help make our mission possible by signing the commitment wall in the LVH–Pocono cafeteria. Wise previously served as the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Nursing Officer. She is a devout patient advocate who understands operations, physicians and clinicians must collaborate to create ideal experiences for patients. “As I work with colleagues to strategize and plan ways to make our organization even better,” Wise says, “I know we will always make the right decisions if we consider the most important thing: The patient.”

Meet the LVH-Pocono team and see more photos from the historic day.

Support from Pocono Raceway

At the news conference, Brandon Igdalsky, President and CEO of Pocono Raceway, spoke about why his family is excited about the merger. Igdalsky’s grandparents, Doc and Rose Mattioli, have generously supported emergency and trauma services at both Pocono Health System and LVHN over the years. The family has firsthand experience of the excellent care both organizations provide. Examples include the lifesaving trauma care NASCAR legend Bobby Allison received following a crash at Pocono Raceway, and the care Igdalsky’s twin daughters received in LVHN’s neonatal ICU after being born prematurely. “I’m confident people will come to realize what my family already knows,” Igdalsky says. “When a great local hospital and health system becomes part of an integrated, cohesive health network, it will create a better – healthier – community.”

All in the family

For Marianne Kostenbader and Steve Kulick, the merger is like a family reunion. Kostenbader, the director of LVHN’s Emergency Medicine Institute, and Kulick, LVH–Pocono’s EMS Continuing Education Administrator, are brother and sister. Now they’re also colleagues who will be working together in the same organization. “We were competitive,” Kulick says, “but now we’re together again.”

Embracing the LVHN brand

LVHN senior leaders met new colleagues as they toured the hospital and visited health care facilities throughout the region. Executive Vice President and COO Terry Capuano (right) stopped in the nurse staffing office. LVH–Pocono’s Director of Nursing Gina Reider (front) explained how they use the staffing board to ensure the units are properly staffed. Holly Shelly even made sure the colors on the board were changed to match LVHN’s colors on the first day of the merger.

Wishes do come true

During a morning walk in 2015, Richie Crocono suffered cardiac arrest. His wife, Annette, dialed 9-1-1, and Richie was taken to Pocono Medical Center. Richie remained in an induced coma for six days while Annette stayed by his side and prayed. On day 7, he was able to breathe on his own again. After triple bypass surgery, the happy couple is back to walking as well as volunteering at LVH–Pocono. “There was a time when we considered moving to the Lehigh Valley to be closer to LVHN,” Annette says. “We wished that one day these two great organization would come together, and our wish came true.”

Laughter is the best medicine

Penny Dee lives to make people smile, but she’s alive because of the cancer care she received at LVH–Pocono. A breast and cervical cancer survivor, Dee gives back by volunteering in the hospital’s infusion department. She wears funny wigs and glasses, and tells silly jokes to keep patients’ spirits up. “The merger will only improve the quality of care here,” she says. “My role in the merger is to keep people laughing.”

The first signatures

Bob Samra and Fred Wager Jr., work for Metz, the organization that provides food and environmental services at LVH–Pocono. Wager was the first person to sign the commitment wall. He wrote, “To a good relationship,” because strong relationships and family are important to the hospital’s cafeteria team. It’s mirrored in their work. For example, the night before parents are discharged from the mother-baby unit, the cafeteria staff prepare a special meal served on a cart complete with sparkling cider. “We want new moms and dads to enjoy a quiet meal together before they go home to the chaos of a new child,” Wager says.

Reasons to be excited

(L-r) Periop Nurse Educator Barbara McHale, and Central Sterile Processing colleagues Maryanne Benenato and Penny Sevek are excited about the merger for different reasons. McHale is eager to meet new colleagues and hear new ideas. “I like good change, and that’s what will happen here,” she says. Benenato is glad to know that both organizations share a culture of teamwork, while Sevek is proud to work for an organization recognized for providing quality care. “My daughter received great care at LVHN,” she says with a tear in her eye. “Everyone was so helpful and all her needs were met. We’re thrilled about the merger.”