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Swinfard: LVHN is good medicine for Lehigh Valley

By LVEDC Staff on January 14, 2014

lvhnDr. Ronald Swinfard doesn’t mince words when he diagnoses the American health-care system. The CEO of the Lehigh Valley Hospital Network prescribes change as the best treatment for the system that is painfully transitioning into Obamacare.

The way Swinfard tells it, the American health care system isn’t as good as it could be – or should be. And if we want to improve that, everyone needs to do something about it.

The top man at LVHN rolled out his views while speaking at an Allentown Rotary luncheon on January 10th at the Allentown Holiday Inn.

To illustrate what he considers the reality that things just aren’t working, Swinfard disseminated a few eye-opening facts.

“Our nation has the most costly health care system in the world,” Swinfard noted. He added that the price tag is an enormous drain on many Americans – and it accounts for about 17 percent of our gross domestic product.

“Change is imperative,” Swinfard said.

Change, as the saying goes, is easy to suggest but not so easy to pull off. LVHN’s strategy has given them a blueprint for victory, placing them at the head of the class among their peers.

Swinfard’s address showed time and again LVHN has the vision to succeed. LVHN recognized years ago that America’s health care system would face change, challenges and plenty of uncertainty.

So how does LVHN envision a better future? Swinfard notes the company is focused on three elements: Making the Lehigh Valley healthier, controlling the costs of care, and providing patients with the best possible care they can.

Known as the “triple aim,” this model not only give the company a cohesive strategy for change, but also serves as a role model for health-care providers across the country.

LVHN helps the public on point one by supporting four hospital locations – two in Allentown, and one each in Bethlehem and Hazleton. It also maintains 31 testing and imaging locations and 125 Lehigh Valley Physicians Group practices, according to their 2013 Annual Report.

In addition, LVHN boasts more than 1,100 medical staff physicians in the Lehigh Valley and has provided more than 12,000 vaccinations thanks to their drive-thru flu shot clinics. Those community clinics – along with the Community Health and Wellness Center and other patient-centered medical homes – helps people avoid illnesses rather than treat them after the fact.

On point two, the hospital is working overtime to keep health care affordable by participating in an alliance with other health systems. The program, which reduces cost through group purchasing and the sharing of information and services, is called AllSpire.

LVHN also boasts a healthy record of providing the best care possible. The company was recognized in 2012 for the 18th consecutive year on the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals list. LVHN received that recognition for many reasons of course, but one reason for the continued accolades was their innovative heart treatments, including transcatheter aortic valve replacement and a left ventricular assist device. The hospital also offers an innovative robotic surgery program, a certified comprehensive stroke center, and a membership in a national comprehensive cancer network. Such extras give patients access to cutting-edge clinical trials.

LVHN provides a litany of specialty care features too numerous to list in their entirety here. A few highlights include the Lehigh Valley’s most active and experience trauma center facilities that treat both adults and children. The facility is also recognized for its expertise with kidney and pancreas transplants.

And the hospital has been smart about how and where they want to expand their operations.

Case in point, the announcement of a merger with the Greater Hazleton Health Alliance in April of last year that officially took effect on January 1st. LVHN also will be bringing health care services to downtown Allentown as part of the PPL Center project that is being built in the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

Add it all up and the hospital that employs more than 12,000 employees is – as Swinfard mentioned in his remarks – doing something about improving the state of health care in the Lehigh Valley.

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