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Capital BlueCross President Discusses Allentown Renovation Project

By Colin McEvoy on October 29, 2020

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham interviewed Todd Shamash, President & CEO of Capital BlueCross, as part of the LVEDC executive video series.

The history of Capital BlueCross in the Lehigh Valley dates back more than 80 years, and the company continues to build upon its presence and involvement in the region, now with a multi-million dollar renovation to its Allentown headquarters.

Capital BlueCross, one of the leading health insurance companies of the Lehigh Valley, began renovation work at its building at 12th and Hamilton street in the city’s downtown. The project will include a complete redesign of the building exterior, and add a new Capital BlueCross Connect health and wellness center in the first floor.

Todd Shamash, who became President & CEO of Capital BlueCross in April, announced the project during a video interview released on Oct. 29 by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).

“For us the Lehigh Valley is vital,” Shamash said. ”When you look at the last 5 or 10 years, the Lehigh Valley has really led Pennsylvania in growth and economic development. The partnerships you have here between business leaders, between sponsors, and between what those businesses do for the community I think is unique.”

The interview is the latest entry in a weekly series LVEDC is conducting with new corporate leaders with some of Lehigh Valley’s leading companies and largest employers. New videos are released each Thursday at 3 p.m. through Nov. 19 on LVEDC’s Facebook page.

“Interestingly, in the last 18 months in the Lehigh Valley, we’ve had no shortage of about 12 to 13 different CEOs come in running our major employers and institutions in the Lehigh Valley,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham, who conducted the interview.

“During these challenging times of COVID and quarantine, it’s much more difficult for us to meet in person and network, socialize, and get to know one another,” Cunningham said. “So we’ve created this series to allow you to meet the new CEOS of these major employers and for them to talk a little bit about themselves and their companies.”

The Lehigh Valley Health Network is the presenting sponsor for the series, with Capital BlueCross as the premier sponsor. Gold sponsors include BB&T, now Truist, Fitzpatrick, Lentz & Bubba, and PenTeleData. Crayola and Good Shepherd Rehabilitation are event sponsors for the series; Follett LLC is the interview sponsor, Countess Communications is the production sponsor, and ArtsQuest is the venue sponsor.

The full video interview with Shamash can be viewed below. Current and previous archived videos can be found here and on LVEDC’s YouTube channel.

Shamash first joined Capital BlueCross in 2012. Before becoming President & CEO in April, he worked as Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary for the company. He also previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Gov. Tom Corbett, and was appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

Assuming leadership of Capital BlueCross in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Shamash said the company has seen tremendous growth in its members’ use of telehealth and Capital BlueCross Virtual Care. Before the pandemic began, a few thousand customers had used a telehealth or virtual platform for doctor’s visits; after a few months into the pandemic the number of visits jumped to hundreds of thousands.

“[The pandemic] has been an accelerant, and I think in some ways it has subsided a little bit, but I do think telehealth and Virtual Care are here to stay, and we’re going to be part of that,” Shamash said.

Capital BlueCross has also seen the increased use of remote technology. About 95% of the company’s almost 2,000 employees have been working remotely, and the company is also increasingly focused on the use of technology to improve healthcare for patients at home.

“I think the healthcare industry has a way to go connecting with consumers,” Shamash said. “If you think how easy it is to shop for virtually anything on your phone, I don’t think healthcare yet has cracked the code to really take that technology and make it truly seamless. That’s something we work on every day.”

Other upcoming interviews in the video series will include:

  • Kevin Orfan, President of Sharp Packaging U.S.
  • Vince Sorgi, President & CEO of PPL Corp.
  • Matt Sorrentino, Chief Executive Officer of Health Network Laboratories

ArtsQuest provided access to indoor space large enough for safe distancing for the interviews. There is no audience for the interviews, which will adhere to public health and social distancing standards.

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