Lehigh Valley, Pa.,
15:37 PM

LVHN, VA Agreement Expands Veterans Choice Program


Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) has signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that expands care in the network for patients under the Veterans Choice Program to the health network’s inpatient hospital campuses and many Lehigh Valley Physician Group (LVPG) practices. The agreement took effect in January 2017.

Under the agreement, the VA recognizes LVHN as a Veterans Choice Program provider to offer the full continuum of health services in partnership with the Wilkes-Barre Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). LVHN will provide private sector care when patients cannot be accommodated by the VA due to: lack of available medical specialists; extended wait times for appointments at a VAMC; or, extraordinary distance from the veteran’s home.

“We continue to build on LVHN’s long-time commitment to providing military men and women and their families the best possible access, care and quality outcomes,” said Brian Nester, DO, MBA, FACOEP. “More than 50,000 veterans live in the greater Lehigh Valley, yet too many go unnoticed in today’s health care environment. We are committed to improving care for veterans including a focus on educating physicians and other clinical staff to recognize and understand veterans’ unique needs.”

Nester said in 2012, LVHN charted a formal network-wide Patient-Centered Experience initiative around improving services for veterans. He cited increased awareness of the unique cultural experiences and medical needs of military men and women, including post-traumatic stress symptoms that might go unrecognized in health care settings designed to treat the needs of the general population. Nester said LVHN also has begun providing referral coordination and navigation for veterans with complex medical and social needs through an on-site veteran health liaison.

Additionally, in October 2013 following a year-long regional study with the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council (LVMAC), all area hospitals took the critical step of screening patients to capture their veteran status in their electronic medical record.

“Asking this question has allowed our clinicians to go at least one step further to ask about military service, deployments and experiences that could better tailor the care to the veterans specific needs,” Nester said.

About LVHN

Lehigh Valley Health Network includes eight hospital campuses - three in Allentown including the region's only facility dedicated to orthopedic surgery, one in Bethlehem, one in East Stroudsburg, one in Hazleton and two in Pottsville, Pa.; 26 health centers caring for communities in seven counties; numerous primary and specialty care physician practices and 18 ExpressCARE locations throughout the region including the area’s only Children’s ExpressCARE at the Health Center at Palmer Township; pharmacy, imaging, home health services and lab services; extensive inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred. Specialty care includes: trauma care at the region’s busiest, most-experienced trauma center treating adults and children, burn care at the regional Burn Center, kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer care, orthopedics, and neurology and complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute, the Lehigh Valley Heart Institute and the Lehigh Valley Institute for Special Surgery give clinicians of the highest caliber the necessary infrastructure, programs and partnerships to help community members stay healthy and provide the most advanced treatment when needed. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute is a formal member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance, a transformative initiative to improve the quality of care and outcomes for people with cancer in community health care settings, including access to key MSK clinical trials. Robotic surgery is offered in ten specialties across the health network with more than 10,000 procedures performed since 2007. Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital, the only children’s hospital and Level 4 NICU in the region, provides care in more than 30 specialties and general pediatrics. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest has been recognized among the top five hospitals in Pennsylvania by U.S. News & World Report for for five consecutive years. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, Lehigh Valley Hospital–17th Street and Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg are national Magnet hospitals for excellence in nursing. Additional information is available by visiting LVHN.org, or following us on Facebook and Twitter.