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Lehigh Valley Health Network

Stem cell transplant program opens

The first of its kind in the region, Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute’s Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program is now offering people with certain blood disorders and cancers access to stem cell transplants closer to home than ever before.

“Stem cell transplants are a lifesaving treatment option, but they are also incredibly taxing for those receiving them and their loved ones,” says Brian A. Nester, DO, MBA, president and Chief Executive Officer, Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). “In the past, our community members needed to travel out of the area for this treatment option, spending weeks in an unfamiliar hospital far from their homes. But now, thanks to incredibly generous gifts from Joe and Maureen Topper and Tom and Karin Hall, that is no longer the reality for our patients.”

The Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program is led by hematologist Amir Toor, MD, who has more than 20 years of experience with stem cell transplants.

Four sites recognized for newborn care

Four Lehigh Valley Health Network hospitals are receiving national recognition from U.S. News & World Report for providing high-quality care to new mothers and their babies.

Lehigh Valley Hospital, which includes LVH – Cedar Crest and LVH – Muhlenberg, LVH – Pocono and LVH – Hazleton, received high performing designations for maternity care for 2023-24, and are the only hospitals in the region to achieve this honor.

The U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals maternity care is based on objective measures, including C-section rates in lower-risk pregnancies, newborn complication rates, exclusive breast-feeding rates, early elective delivery rates, birthing-friendly practices and transparency about racial/ethnic disparities.

St. Luke’s Health Network

Program’s first graduate

In October, Mikala Leszcynski earned the distinction of becoming the first graduate of St. Luke’s new Hospice and Palliative Medicine Advanced Practitioner (AP) Fellowship program. This yearlong program - which St. Luke’s University Health Network launched in August 2022 - equips qualified, committed and caring nurse practitioners and physician assistants with the clinical and academic expertise to become future leaders in hospice and palliative medicine.

St. Luke’s Hospice and Palliative Medicine AP Fellowship program is the first one in Pennsylvania and the 13th in the country. More information about St. Luke’s Hospice and Palliative Medicine AP Fellowship program is available by visiting the St. Luke’s website or emailing Jennifer Bloch at or Erin Bendas, DO.

SportsPLex, pickleball facility launched

St. Luke’s University Health Network is pleased to announce the launch of St. Luke’s SportsPLex and Pickleball Lehigh Valley (PLV). St. Luke’s SportsPLex is one of the largest pickleball and indoor/outdoor sports facility on the East Coast, outside of Florida. And it is home to Pickleball Lehigh Valley.

St. Luke’s SportsPLex (formerly Parkland Pickleball Club) is a 75,000-SF former tennis and racket club that has been completely updated to support pickleball and other multisport activities. Housed within six 8000-SF “barrels” or bays there are 12 NBA-quality hardwood pickleball courts, 12 designated hard court pickleball courts and an Event Center which is also lined for pickleball, bringing the total indoor courts to 25.

St. Luke’s SportsPLex and Pickleball Lehigh Valley are located at 4636 Crackersport Road, Allentown.

Nursing education grant

St. Luke’s University Health Network recently received a $1.4 million grant to increase the number and capacity of nursing students to address the health care needs and improve patient outcomes of rural and medically underserved populations in Carbon and Schuylkill counties.

The grant, which provides funding over 3 years, is from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) for the Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention (NEPQR) Simulation Education Training (SET) Program.

The funding will create experiential learning opportunities that prepare nursing students to address health equity for rural and medically underserved populations, along with increasing the diversity of the nursing workforce.