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Lehigh Valley Health Network resumes elective surgery

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) has reopened COVID-free hospitals for elective surgery.

The three COVID-free hospitals are:

• Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) - Tilghman, 4815 Tilghman St., Allentown. (Opened May 1)

• Coordinated Health Allentown, 1503 N. Cedar Crest Blvd. (Opened April 30)

• Coordinated Health Bethlehem, 2310 Highland Ave. (Opening May 11)

A COVID-free facility is a hospital that has been quarantined throughout the pandemic, a stand-alone building that has never seen a COVID-19 case and is physically separated from those who care for patients with COVID-19.

“We have kept these facilities free from COVID-19 and will do everything we can to make certain they stay that way,” said Brian Nester, DO, MBA, FACOEP, LVHN President and Chief Executive Officer.

According to Nester, the COVID-19 caseload in LVHN hospitals has plateaued, and the rate of growth of new cases in the community is declining.

“Now it’s time to reopen our services and get back to providing the services people need,” Nester said. “As we recover, it is imperative that we continue to provide COVID-safe care in every location where we see patients.”

Nester said stringent safety protocols will ensure these facilities remain as free as possible from COVID-19. He adds these protocols will make the patient experience more streamlined than ever before.

LVHN will implement the following steps to maintain or exceed Non-COVID Care standards:

• Open a separate test center for health-care providers and pre-op patients

• Screen colleagues for COVID-19 infection daily and perform COVID-19 tests with front-line colleagues regularly

• Screen surgery and procedure patients for COVID-19 infection and, when warranted, test certain patients who may be at risk for COVID-19 infection

• Plan surgery times that stagger patient arrival, helping to ensure social distancing

• Encourage use of the EASE app at LVHN - Tilghman so family members can stay informed while not remaining in the hospital during a surgery or procedure

• Reinvent check-in and waiting room protocols to ensure people complete pre-surgery assessments, registration and check-in virtually

• Activate frequent cleaning and disinfection protocols to ensure the surgery facilities remain as free of the COVID-19 virus as possible

Nester said LVHN will continue its legacy of providing safe care by designating “Non-COVID Care Zones” in all LVHN hospitals.

“I have personally visited all of our ICUs, emergency departments and COVID-19 units to thank our fabulous care teams and to see our safety procedures in practice,” said Nester.

“I’ve been able to do this safely because of the safe and innovative procedures our caregivers rigorously adhere to. People can feel confident that our team is here to provide safe access for every member of the family, whether it’s in the hospital or the office setting,” Nester said.

“In our practices and ambulatory settings, we’re leveraging the capabilities of MyLVHN to provide virtual care and lessen face-to-face interactions,” Nester said. “We are staggering patient arrival times to promote social distancing. We revamped the patient check-in and office experience and are providing visual cues that remind people they are receiving COVID-safe care at LVHN.”

Nester thanked LVHN physicians, nurses and staff for their commitment to providing safe and innovative care, as well as for persevering through the pandemic.

“I know this has been a challenging time for all of us. What I also know is that by working together, LVHN will emerge from this stronger, and will continue to be the trusted health care partner our community needs, expects and deserves,” Nester said.

Brian Nester