LVHN Highlights Growth, Innovation, Access to Care and Convenience at Community Annual Meeting
Creating a healthier community requires meaningful growth to fulfill community needs, innovation to discover new medical breakthroughs and convenient ways to provide access to quality health care. Examples of how health care professionals at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) are imagining ways to make our region healthier – and taking steps to make it a reality – were cited during LVHN’s 2017 Community Annual Meeting.
“When you imagine exceptional health care, the first thing you think about is the quality of that care,” said Brian Nester, DO, MBA, FACOEP, LVHN President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Before more than 200 people in attendance, Nester described how the health network’s commitment to quality is demonstrated in the introduction of three new institutes in 2017. The LVHN Heart Institute, LVHN Cancer Institute and LVHN Institute for Special Surgery create better experiences and outcomes for patients with conditions that impact many members of the community.
In an age when everything can be done with a few mouse clicks or taps on an app, Nester noted how LVHN is creating health care convenience. Select appointments and tests at LVHN now can be scheduled online. This year, the health network also introduced video visits. Using a smart device, patients can now see an LVHN provider from the comfort of their home for minor illnesses such as coughs and colds, pinkeye, lower back pain, urinary problems, ear pain, rash/skin problems and seasonal allergies. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Nester discussed how LVHN has grown, and will continue to grow in the months ahead, to give people access to the quality they need close to home. In 2017, this was accomplished through various ways, among them, LVHN’s merger with the former Pocono Health System in January. To date, this merger has led to the opening of an Inpatient Rehabilitation Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Pocono and the Health Center at Blakeslee, which features Monroe County’s first ExpressCARE. Epic, LVHN’s electronic medical record system, also was introduced this year at Lehigh Valley Physician Group–Pocono practices and outpatient services location in the Poconos. The approval for construction of LVH–Pocono West, a new hospital campus in Tannersville, furthers LVHN’s commitment to growth in Monroe County.
Growth continues in other communities LVHN serves. In Hazleton, Nester said plans are underway to modernize LVH–Hazleton and expand the emergency room (ER). The health network also is planning a “health care campus of the future” in Hazle Township on the site of LVHN’s Health & Wellness Center at Hazleton. Expanded services also are planned for center city Hazleton.
Since LVHN’s merger with the former Schuylkill Health System in 2016, Nester said more than 20,000 patients received care in the new ER at LVH–Schuylkill E. Norwegian Street. Integration of services at the two LVH–Schuylkill hospital campuses continues, and new specialist physicians are providing care in the community.
Growth in the Lehigh Valley focused on giving residents of Northampton County access to the health care services they need close to home. In June, the Family Health Pavilion at LVH–Muhlenberg opened in Bethlehem. The facility includes the Family Birth and Newborn Center and a 28-bed Inpatient Rehabilitation Center. Two new health centers opened in 2017: the Health Center at Easton and the Health Center at Palmer Township, which has a unique focus on children’s health and includes the region’s only Children’s ExpressCARE.
Nester said LVHN continues to focus on the needs of those who are sadly underserved, which includes our nation’s veterans. The Dick and Peggy Fleming Military and Veteran Resource Information Center, or MAVRIC, opened at LVH–17th Street in November. At MAVRIC, veterans can receive help applying for health insurance, connecting with medical and legal resources, and getting clothing and personal items. “Our veterans deserve the best,” Nester said. “With MAVRIC, we aim to fight for them as fervently as they fought for our freedom.”
In addition to Nester’s presentation, LVHN also released its fiscal year financial report for the budget year that ended in June 2017. Operating income, or the amount reinvested into facilities and services, from fiscal year 2017 was $47.8 million, or a margin of 2.0 percent. Acute admissions, emergency visits, ExpressCARE visits, and outpatient registrations and doctor visits all increased compared to fiscal year 2016, with outpatient registrations up 73 percent and ExpressCARE visits growing by 31 percent. During 2017, the LVHN Board of Trustees added three new members: Kirsten Anthony, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs; Carolyn Bortz, EdD, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Northampton Community College; and Kathy O’Brien, Vice President of Skin and Marketing Services at Unilever North America.