Lehigh Valley, Pa.,
15:46 PM

LVHN Leadership Emphasizes Importance of Health Care Value, Growth of Services at Community Annual Meeting

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Nester, DO, MBA, FACOEP, emphasized ways the health network provides value during LVHN’s 2018 Community Annual Meeting this evening at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest. In addition, Nester reviewed highlights and achievements of the past year that focus on how the organization delivers the Triple-Aim—better health and better care at a better cost for the community. wHweIn addition

“Throughout life, you will experience defining moments and struggles,” Nester said. “During struggles involving your health, you expect to receive quality care. At LVHN, we strive to deliver superior care in the most effective manner possible.”

Nester provided an example of how better care costs less. He shared the story of Charles Myers, a photographer from Harleysville. Myers had a problem that affects 20 percent of Americans: acid reflux. His symptoms were so bad, he wouldn’t eat all day. Rather than take medication and try home remedies, Myers found a solution at LVHN. It’s a new surgical treatment called LINX®. Through a tiny incision, Scott Beman, MD, general and bariatric surgery, implanted a ring of titanium magnet beads around the lower end of Myers’s esophagus. That ring prevents stomach contents from flowing back up.

Only 7 percent of patients who have LINX are back on medication after five years. That’s the case for Myers, who again is enjoying his favorite meal: steak and potatoes. Best of all, Nester said, he’s not spending wastefully on medications and unnecessary doctor visits. He’s achieved better health by receiving better care at a better cost.

Nester also stressed the importance of delivering safe care and how LVHN hospitals were recently recognized by The Leapfrog Group, an independent organization committed to driving health care quality and transparency. He said Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest, LVH–Muhlenberg, LVH–Pocono and, for the first time, LVH–Hazleton – received ‘A’ grades from The Leapfrog Group for protecting patients from accidents, errors, injuries and infections.

Nester also discussed how LVHN continues to grow it services throughout the region helping provide access to care for patients in their own communities whenever possible. Two examples he cited were the extension of the Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute’s membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance to LVH–Pocono’s Hughes Cancer Center in Monroe County, and the opening of the new LVHN Cancer Center–Schuylkill in Schuylkill County located at LVH–East Norwegian Street. Nester said the center gives patients access to leading-edge technology and cancer treatment options other hospitals can’t provide.

Nester also cited how the Cancer Institute’s new Mobile Mammography Coach, introduced in October, will travel throughout the region offering the same screening technology and highly educated staff available at all LVHN mammography facilities. The coach will visit businesses, nonprofits, schools and community organizations across eastern Pennsylvania, especially in low-income areas where women often lack access to mammography.

Nester also shared other patients’ personal stories to demonstrate advances that have occurred at the Lehigh Valley Heart Institute over the past year, including heart valve replacement and repair technology that can shorten hospital stays and reduce readmissions, once again reducing costs and getting patients home sooner where they prefer to be.

Nester also highlighted major growth efforts that will significantly expand services in emergency care and for children. He said an investment in the emergency room (ER) at LVH–Hazleton will double its size and provide greater access to emergency care when it opens in 2019. In the Lehigh Valley, work will soon begin on a 120,000-square-foot addition to the current ER at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest. The expanded facility will include 97 adult beds, 26 beds in the Children’s ER, three trauma bays, designated space for behavioral health care, large waiting areas, ample parking and more.

For ER patients who need additional care but do not require an inpatient hospital stay, the expansion includes a 62-bed observation unit adjacent to the ER. The expanded ER and observation unit will be complete by the fall of 2020. An expanded Children’s ER will open in 2021.

Nester revisited LVHN’s recent announcement about Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital that he says will have a dramatic impact on health care services for children going forward. He told the audience the generous gift from J.B. and Kathleen Reilly – one of the largest in the health network’s history – will significantly enhance pediatric services, programs and facilities. In recognition of the Reillys’ generosity, the children’s hospital is now Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital. He said among other benefits, the gift will consolidate all our inpatient children’s services under one roof; increase the number of pediatric inpatient beds; grow pediatric and neonatal intensive care units; and expand the children’s surgery program.

In addition to Nester’s presentation, LVHN also released its fiscal year financial report for the budget year that ended in June 2018. Operating income, or the amount reinvested into facilities and services, from fiscal year 2018 was $35.1 million, or a margin of 1.3 percent. Acute admissions, emergency visits, ExpressCARE visits, and doctor visits all increased compared to fiscal year 2017, with ExpressCARE visits up 35 percent and doctor visits growing by 17 percent. During 2018, the LVHN Board of Trustees added a new member: William H. Spence, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of PPL Corporation. William F. Hecht, Board Vice Chair and Chairman and CEO (Retired), PPL Corporation is retiring from the Board at the end of the year after serving since 1996.