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Lehigh Valley Health Network annual meeting emphasizes growth, excellent care

Lehigh Valley Health Network’s (LVHN) President and Chief Executive Officer cited the expansion of one new hospital, the opening of two others, the construction of yet another and the establishment of two new Institutes as the tip of the iceberg to improve access to high-quality, compassionate care as he addressed the organization’s Community Annual Meeting.

Speaking at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH) - Cedar Crest, Brian A. Nester, DO, MBA, also presented the care experiences of several patients through photos and video to demonstrate how LVHN’s physicians and other caregivers helped them overcome health challenges like kidney failure, COVID-19, endometrial cancer, stroke, orthopedic injuries and premature birth. The theme of his remarks was “Excellent care always matters at LVHN.”

“Tonight, I am humbled to represent my colleagues, the 20,000 healthcare professionals of the LVHN family, to share examples of our collective commitment to excellent care,” Nester said Dec. 7.

“It includes our pledge to make care easily accessible, our relentless drive to take healthcare to new heights, and our vow to deliver care with a compassionate, personalized touch.”

Nester said several expansions at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH) - Hecktown Oaks, Northampton County, since it opened in June 2021 are the result of the number of people seeking care there. The additional construction included the opening of a four-story tower with 30 beds, a therapy gym and a state-of-the-art intensive care unit (ICU). The hospital was designated a Level IV Trauma Center by the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation (PTSF) in November, making it the fifth LVHN hospital to receive trauma center accreditation.

Nester noted the opening last spring of two new LVHN hospitals three weeks apart in Dickson City, Lackawanna County, and Lehighton, Carbon County, offering more access to residents in those communities. And on Dec. 5, there was a groundbreaking for a new neighborhood hospital in Lower Macungie Township, to meet increasing demand for accessible ER and inpatient care. It will be called LVH - Macungie.

Nester said beyond new facilities to provide LVHN patients care close to home, it’s also important that existing services and programs evolve to offer patients the latest treatments and best physicians. That’s why LVHN’s Institutes continue to expand and grow and why two new Institutes, Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute and Lehigh Valley Fleming Neuroscience Institute, were created this year to fill vital needs in two specialties.

Nester said the Fleming Neuroscience Institute is just one specialty where experts have joined LVHN who offer unique treatments, including deep brain stimulation surgery for movement disorders such as tremors and Parkinson’s disease.

Nester cited the 10th anniversary of Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital in 2022, the community’s only Children’s Hospital. He said the hospital’s Children’s ER demonstrates another example of meeting community need as it has grown from caring for 1,600 children per month in 2016 to a record 3,200 children in October 2022.

“If you’re a parent, you appreciate the peace of mind in knowing that specialized care, from newborns to teens, is available close to home,” Nester said. “That’s what our Children’s Hospital provides.”

In its annual report, the health network reported operating income of $78.4 million for fiscal year 2022 (FY22), or an operating margin of 2.0 percent, despite an increase in expenses attributed mainly to higher costs associated with wages, supplies and purchased services.

Outpatient registration was up 37 percent. ExpressCARE visits increased almost 50 percent compared to fiscal year 2021.

ER visits were up 21 percent in FY22.

In FY22, the number of visits to Lehigh Valley Physician Group (LVPG) practices increased by close to 400,000, bringing the total to 3.6 million visits.

LVHN’s “2022 Report to the Community”:


CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LVHN Lehigh Valley Health Network President and Chief Executive Officer Brian A. Nester, DO, MBA, addresses LVHN Community Annual Meeting at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH) - Cedar Crest.