Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Growth Demonstrates Commitment to Region’s Health

By Colin McEvoy on February 3, 2015

With the revitalization of downtown Allentown, the city got more than just a new hockey arena last summer. They got a new health care and fitness destination center, and another example of the Lehigh Valley Health Network’s commitment to protecting the health and well-being of the people of the Lehigh Valley.

This article is part of an ongoing series about the superior health care offered in the Lehigh Valley. See below for information about the other stories:

PART 1: St. Luke’s University Health Network
• PART 2: Lehigh Valley Health Network
• PART 3: Sacred Heart Hospital
PART 4: Easton Hospital
• PART 5: Coordinated Health

LVHN is in its first year of operation at LVHN-One City Center, occupying six floors of the eight-story structure attached to the PPL Center hockey arena complex. The sports medicine and fitness destination center, anchored by a 17,000-square-foot fitness center, provides an enormous range of health services, including sports performance training, physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic care, occupational medicine, community health programs and a concussion and head trauma program.

The public fitness center, one of three within the health network, sees as many as 1,000 visitors a week and was designed to cater to a wide range of users, from professional hockey players in the Lehigh Valley Phantoms – for which LVHN serves as team doctors – to high school athletes and “weekend warriors.” The center includes a 40-yard turf track 40 cardiovascular machines, including spin bikes, crank cycles, treadmills, ellipticals, rowers, stair-climbers, upright bikes and arm bikes.

“There’s something for everyone here,” said Lisa Bednarski, business operations manager. “It’s a one-stop shop and you can go at your own pace. All our physical therapists have college degrees in exercise science. You won’t find that in most gyms, and it means medically-based fitness and a wealth of knowledge and experience.”

State of the Art Equipment

Beyond your typical exercise bikes and treadmills, the fitness center boasts brand new, cutting-edge equipment. There’s the Keiser Infinity Fitness Machines, which provide strength training with air resistance rather than weights. Or the Woodway Curve, a curved treadmill with no motors or buttons because it’s manually powered by the running of the user. Commonly used by NFL athletes, it gives the user complete control to instantly adjust speed, and simulates a feeling of running outside rather than on a machine.

A patient using LVHN-One City center's Alter G, an anti-gravity treadmill.

A patient using LVHN-One City center’s Alter G, an anti-gravity treadmill.

There’s also a state-of-the art multisport simulator, an 16-foot-by-10-foot screen where users can simulate such sports as golf, soccer, rugby, cricket, and even “zombie dodgeball,” which Bednarski called a particular crowd favorite. And, perhaps rarest of all, there’s the Alter G, an anti-gravity treadmill that uses compression shorts to create an air-tight seal, then uses air pressure to reduce up to 80 percent of a user’s effective body weight during exercise. Commonly used for patients recovering from lower-body injuries, the treadmill lets them train at higher speeds and run more volume with less wear and tear on the limb.

“It’s more beneficial than an underwater rehabilitation system because you do not get the same lateral resistance from the water,” said LVHN physical therapist Wade Groff.

LVHN-One City Center has improved not only physical health in the Lehigh Valley, but economic health as well. It has brought about 600 jobs to Allentown, with several new jobs being created.

Growth Throughout the Valley

But the Lehigh Valley Health Network has experienced growth well beyond the One City Center facility.

Last month, LVHN announced a new 34-bed inpatient rehabilitation facility will open this summer at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Salisbury Township. The facility, which will be located in the recently-expanded sixth and seventh floors Kasych Family Pavilion’s South Tower, will provide intensive, specialized therapy to patients recovering from such conditions as stroke, neurological disorders, orthopedic injuries, amputations, post-surgical conditions or other debilitations.

“By providing short-term intensive rehabilitation, we’re ensuring a seamless continuum of care for patients without leaving our health network,” said Brian Nester, LVHN president and CEO. “In addition, having the unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest allows patients access to our specialists should any additional medical problems arise.”

The health network also recently opened a new facility for rehabilitation services at 529 West Broad Street in Bethlehem, at the former Bethlehem Gallery of Floors store building, just two blocks from an LVHN facility at 325 W. Broad Street. That building opened in October 2013, with much praise from city officials and business owners who called it an important component of the business district’s growth. It offers such services as ABC Family Pediatricians and College Heights OBGYN Associates.

High-tech training tools

LVHN recently received a $9 million grant from the Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust, the largest grant bestowed since the trust was created in 1967. It will go toward high-tech educational tools and training for physicians, nursing and staff over the next four years. The tools include virtual reality, video games and realistic simulation centers that run physicians and staff through emergency scenarios, so they are prepared for the real thing.

The interior of the fitness center at LVHN-One City Center.

The interior of the fitness center at LVHN-One City Center.

One such training exercise includes a hospital bed with a mannequin that can simulate symptoms of a real patient – including speech, bleeding and vomiting – all controlled by a simulation specialist. Another scenario includes a fake sealed hospital room where staff can don protective gear and simulate treatment for a patient with a major infectious disease, like Ebola. Other training includes videos games that familiarize the user with the various components of an operating room.

“The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust is proud and eager to support Lehigh Valley Health Network’s ongoing efforts to achieve the Triple Aim of better care, better cost and better health,” said Edward F. Meehan, executive director of the trust. “True to Leonard Pool’s mission, the ultimate beneficiaries will be the citizens of the region.”

LVHN also reached an impressive milestone in November 2014 when it performed its 1000th organ transplant since the program began in 1991. The successful living donor kidney transplant is one of more than 70 transplants the network performs each year, more than 95 percent of which are kidney surgeries, and the rest being pancreatic transplants.

Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg has also been designated by the Pennsylvania Department of Health as one of only four official Ebola treatment centers in the state, and one of only 46 nationwide. That means it is one of the few hospitals equipped to provide long-term care to an Ebola patient based on its staff, equipment, capabilities, training and resources.

“Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg joins an elite list of hospitals that can provide this level of care while minimizing risk to health care workers and the public,” said Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Michael Wolf.

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