Lehigh Valley, Pa.,
18:07 PM

LVHN Announces Additional Plans to Ensure Care and Keep Patients and Caregivers Safe During COVID-19 Outbreak

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is forcing everyone to take unusual steps at home and work. Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) is no exception. Health network officials acknowledge the ongoing battle to protect the health and safety of patients, caregivers and the community, as well as preserve LVHN for when we are on the other side of this crisis.

The health network has already made significant changes to hospital visitation policies, employee temperature screenings, reduced ambulatory surgeries, diagnostic testing and other ambulatory services. Now, Lehigh Valley Physician Group (LVPG), our physician practice, is adapting to keep everyone safe and continue to ensure they get the care they need when they need it.

“We need to take care of as many patients as possible during this pandemic, while making certain we are prepared for the future when this is over,” said Brian Nester, DO, MBA, FACOEP, LVHN’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

To do this in the current climate, Michael Rossi, MD, President, LVPG, says the group is taking unprecedented steps to reduce the number of in-person visits to physician practices and dramatically increase virtual care services. Rossi says LVPG is making operational changes to assure its patients can be seen safely, and that caregivers are available to help with the expected increase in COVID-19 patients. This includes reducing the number of in-person patient visits, as well as reducing the number of office sites open for in-person visits. Rossi says this will protect everyone from the spread of COVID-19 and keep our health care workers healthy and available to effectively combat this pandemic on behalf of our community.

Rossi says reduced in-person office visits will result in having to furlough over 900 dedicated members of the LVPG staff in various positions at nearly 150 practice locations.

“We want to assure those affected and our community that this is temporary--these are furloughs and not layoffs, meaning those affected will retain their benefits. Some will be redeployed as needed and appropriate.

“All patients will continue to have access to LVPG physicians and can choose how they wish to interact with that physician – electronically or in person,” Rossi said. “Our technology group has expanded our video visit capabilities so that we can see patients via cell phone or other devices. We can now provide a large volume of video visits, meaning we can see patients via their cell phone, tablet or laptop. Local LVPG providers, with access to your comprehensive medical record will provide this care.”

Rossi says patients can count on their doctor remaining available via phone and the

MyLVHN app. When the situation calls for a face-to-face visit, the appropriate LVPG provider will see them. LVPG will implement this plan over the next two weeks. We will communicate with patients through MyLVHN, email, on LVHN.org and via letters so patients know what is happening with their specific practice.

“This unprecedented pandemic has greatly changed our everyday life.” Nester said.

“For LVHN and LVPG, we are making aggressive daily adjustments to ensure our community maintains access to the high-quality care they expect and deserve – especially during this crisis. The safety and health of our colleagues and community members drives our every action and we are committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure that LVHN remains strong during this pandemic and that our citizens will be able to rely on us for their care long after COVID-19 is gone.”

About LVHN

Lehigh Valley Health Network includes eight hospital campuses, three in Allentown, one in Bethlehem, one in East Stroudsburg, one in Hazleton and two in Pottsville, Pa.; Coordinated Health, which includes two hospital campuses, nearly two dozen multispecialty locations including ambulatory surgery centers and orthopedic injury centers in northeastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey; 26 health centers; numerous primary and specialty care physician practices; 20 ExpressCARE including the area’s only Children’s ExpressCARE; pharmacy, imaging, home health, rehabilitation, and lab services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred. Specialty care includes trauma care for adults and children, burn care at the Regional Burn Center, kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer, orthopedics, neurology, complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, and robotic surgery in 10 specialties. Lehigh Valley Cancer InstituteLehigh Valley Heart Institute, and Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence physicians provide the most advanced treatments. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute is a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance, an initiative that helps community providers improve the quality of cancer care and offers access to MSK clinical trials. Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, the community’s only children’s hospital, provides care in more than 30 specialties and general pediatrics. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest is the region’s only hospital nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report for orthopedics and has been recognized among Pennsylvania’s top five hospitals for six consecutive years. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, Lehigh Valley Hospital–17th Street and Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg are the region’s only Magnet® hospitals for nursing excellence. Additional information is available by visiting LVHN.org, or following us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram.