Physicians Travel From Around Nation to See St. Luke’s University Health Network’s Technology
By Colin McEvoy on January 20, 2015
Physicians and medical professionals travel to Bethlehem from all across the world to see the latest in medical technology.
That’s because the St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem is the host of the country’s first International GE Show Site. When GE Medical Systems introduces new equipment, the company ships it to Bethlehem so physicians can observe the equipment and receive training in its use. As a result, St. Luke’s University Health Network has a history of introducing medical innovations not otherwise seen in the United States.
For example, two years ago St. Luke’s became the first hospital in the nation to host the Discovery IGS 730 Hybrid OR, a mobile operating room suite that combines the technology of x-ray imaging with the surgical environment of an operating room. By combining the two, physicians can take care of multiple patient problems at once in a smaller, less invasive environment. For instance, a surgery requiring an incision or catheter installation can be done with a smaller cut and greater precision than a standard surgery because the physician can monitor the x-ray images in real time as the procedure happens.
The mobility of the suite gives physicians flexibility during even the most complex procedures, which means having complete access to the patient while helping maintain sterility in the OR environment, and allows the doctor to move the unit completely out of the way during surgery. The mobility also allows imaging to be done from many different positions and angles, creating 3-D visualizations providing the best possible projection of a patient, and critical organs and vessels can be imaged with lower dose radiation.
“It’s no surprise this technology has raised the interest of health care organizations both nationally and internationally,” says Dr. Hal Folander, chairman of the St. Luke’s radiology department. “As a show site for GE Healthcare, St. Luke’s enjoys having opportunities to share medical innovations with other health care providers from around the globe. Our visitors are able to experience firsthand how the system allows complete access to the patient and offers multiple parking possibilities, while helping maintain sterility for a flexible and secure OR environment. The system has truly enhanced how we do some of the most complex vascular and cardiac procedures at St. Luke’s.”
The mobile operating room, however, is just one example of innovation medical technology that debuted at St. Luke’s through its U.S. International GE Showroom. In 2002, the hospital became the first in the world to offer the GE Innova 4100 large-format digital flat panel detector, which provides incredibly detailed, real-time digital x-ray images of the human anatomy. These fluoroscopic pictures, shown clearly in a large field of view, allow for the treatment of such ailments as swollen blood vessels, uterine tumors, and various vascular, cardiovascular and neurological diseases without major surgery.
Advancing Medical Education
The relationship with GE Healthcare is not the only partnership that has allowed St. Luke’s to pioneer better health care in the Lehigh Valley. There is also the Medical School of Temple University/St. Luke’s University Health Network, a partnership the hospital and the Philadelphia-based university has created, establishing the Lehigh Valley’s only medical school.
With a maximum enrollment of 122 students, a number small enough to ensure individualized attention but large enough to create a pool of students with shared interests, the Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine offers on-site classrooms and simulation labs creating a clinical educational experience comparable to a large, urban facility. Students are allowed to engage in multi-year research projects, and year 3 and 4 students spend much of their time in clinical rotation at St. Luke’s itself.
“St. Luke’s is dedicated to quality medical education coupled with compassionate patient-centered, technologically sophisticated care,” said Dr. Joel Rosenfeld, chief academic officer. “The goal of our graduate medical education program is to train young physicians who will have the knowledge and skills to enter private practice and/or go into fellowships for further training. More than 180 fellows, residents and interns train at St. Luke’s, which is one of only 400 members of the prestigious Council of Teaching Hospitals.”
Commitment to the Community
St. Luke’s commitment to the region is also demonstrated by the opening of its Anderson Campus in 2011. Located on 500 acres at Route 33 and Freemansburg Avenue in Bethlehem Township, the $175 million project includes a 108-bed hospital, state-of-the-art cancer center, and medical office building dedicated to bone and joint, heart and vascular, and primary care medicine. The first non-replacement hospital built in Pennsylvania in 40 years, the project had a huge economic impact on the Lehigh Valley, injecting tens of millions of dollars into the local economy annually and creating 350 construction jobs, 550 permanent jobs, and more than 500 indirect positions.
The 256,000 square foot, full-service medical facility offers the community access to the most modern health care. When choosing partners to equip the new facility St. Luke’s made a commitment to invest in local businesses, such as Olympus America, Inc., which it contracted to install its four new operating rooms at the Anderson Campus. Dr. Marc Granson, St. Luke’s chief of surgery, said the technology allows physicians to perform all types of surgical procedures across a wide range of disciplines, including general surgery and orthopedic procedures.
“Olympus surgical devices allow the most complicated surgical procedures to be performed with precision and less invasive techniques,” he said. “This improves our patients’ experiences, recovery and outcomes.”
Over the past decade, St. Luke’s had developed a strong relationship with B. Braun that has benefited them clinically, financially and from a safety perspective. The partnership has resulted in the use of Braun products that have improved the safety of the care given to their patients with products, such as IV bags that are DEHP free and the use of Intorcan safety catheters. The partnership has been expanded to other divisions of Braun, including Aesculap which is based in Center Valley.
Another example of St. Luke’s commitment to “buying local” is its partnership with Knoll, Inc., which provides the campus with furniture.
“We believe that partnering with greater Lehigh Valley-based businesses is not only good for our hospital but also for our community,” said hospital President Ed Nawrocki. “The furniture chosen through Knoll will enhance our facilities’ ambiance, providing warmth and comfort for our patients and their families as well as instilling a sense of calm in a healing environment.”
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