Lehigh Valley Offers Superior Health Care and Medical Services
By Colin McEvoy on August 30, 2016
This story first appeared in the second issue of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development magazine, a publication developed by LVEDC and Journal Communications. This magazine highlights the region’s competitive advantages for targeted sectors, as well as providing an overview of the region’s business climate, livability, transportation infrastructure, and other economic assets.
The Lehigh Valley is home to highly-ranked health-care providers, from acute-care hospitals to specialty-care surgery centers and clinics, many of which are expanding and innovating to keep pace with a rapidly growing patient population.
At the forefront is Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), a specialty-care leader that operates four acute-care hospitals, a multi-location children’s hospital and several community health centers and clinics throughout the region.
LVHN’s recent advancements include expanded rehabilitation services, a health and fitness destination center in downtown Allentown, a burgeoning clinical-trials program and a bevy of high-tech tools and training opportunities for physicians.
Another top-tier provider is St. Luke’s University Health Network, a nonprofit that welcomes patients to six hospitals and more than 200 health sites across the region, along with operating schools of medicine and nursing.
“Today, St. Luke’s is much more than a provider of health care; we are a major educator of our future doctors, nurses and allied-health professionals,” said Robert Martin, senior vice president at St. Luke’s, whose Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine graduated its first class in 2015. “We cannot overestimate the importance of attracting new physicians and advanced practitioners to our community to provide the care our growing and aging population is going to need.”
Innovation with a Personal Touch
St. Luke’s, Martin said, is focused on reducing the cost of care, improving patient services, encouraging preventative care and pursuing partnerships focused on innovation.
Examples include collaborations with medical equipment-makers to provide patients with the most advanced technology and a partnership between St. Luke’s and Moravian College to develop a cutting-edge academic center for sports medicine.
“The list of innovations in health care can boggle the mind,” Martin said, pointing to a rise in remote care such as telemedicine and electronic records management. “But human beings are still going to be at the center of the health-care picture for a long time to come. We will continue to attract the best and brightest doctors and nurses to assure our care remains among the best in the country.”
Heart of the Valley
Other providers are growing as well, including Sacred Heart Hospital, which recently debuted a new patient wing with a “uniquely homelike, intimate and high-touch setting,” said John L. Nespoli, president and CEO of Sacred Heart.
“Our role is to continue to provide access to care, particularly for the city of Allentown, to expand services where we see the need and to continue as a major player in the remarkable rebirth of the city,” Nespoli said.
With 300,000 annual visits, 12 primary-care and convenient-care centers and health nurses based in underserved parts of town, Sacred Heart focuses on “integrating health care into community services,” Nespoli said, while adding facilities such as a new senior housing center being constructed beside the current campus.
Sacred Heart operates a comprehensive community health center on its campus called the Sigal Center, offering pediatrics, dentistry, family practice, obstetrics, gynecology, behavioral health, and a “wellness navigator” that guides patients at the center to the community and social services they need to stay well.
“In the coming years we will continue to invest in facilities, technology and people to expand this very unique approach to care,” Nespoli said.
Ahead of the Curve
Easton Hospital, a 238-bed facility with 294 active physicians, provides multiple specialties to its community. Among others, the hospital offers patients minimally invasive surgeries through its state-of-the-art surgical robot system.
In addition to their acute-care brethren, a number of specialty-care providers are adding both services and facilities to serve patients in the region and beyond.
Examples include Coordinated Health, which provides orthopedics, sports medicine, women’s health and more at 17 sites across the region; and Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, which is expanding its services and gaining national attention for its innovative technologies and therapies.
Poised for Positive Impact
For all of the area’s providers, the challenge of keeping pace with patient needs also brings opportunities to make a difference, according to the region’s health-care leaders.
“More and more people, especially as they age, recognize that life is much better when you are healthy,” said Robert Martin of St. Luke’s. “Great health care is one of the most important foundations of a vibrant and growing community like the one we have in the Lehigh Valley. Although there has not been a more challenging time in health care, there has never been a more exciting time. We are excited to help lead the way to improving health while making care more affordable, better and easier to access.”
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