Greater Hazleton Health Alliance and Lehigh Valley Health Network announced Wednesday that the agreement for one, fully integrated health care system of LVHN and GHHA has cleared the regulatory process with the Federal Trade Commission, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office and the Orphans' Court of Luzerne County. The merger will become effective Jan. 1.

GHHA will merge into LVHN and LVHN will become the sole corporate member of Hazleton General Hospital.

Hazleton General Hospital will be known as Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton

The merger, announced in April, builds upon the two systems working together over several years in various clinical service areas. GHHA and LVHN began to jointly develop clinical relationships in the areas of alert response for heart attack care at HGH, emergency department coverage by LVHN physicians at HGH, and various telehealth initiatives including TeleInfectious Disease, TeleBurn and TeleStroke care to extend the benefits of LVHN's specialist care capabilities in an efficient way in the Hazleton region.

"This is welcome news," said Ronald Swinfard, MD, LVHN's president and CEO. "We have anxiously awaited hearing from the various regulatory and review agencies since our announcement in the spring. We are eager to begin discussing and implementing plans that will allow us to address our affiliation objectives. These objectives include high quality, low cost, sustainable health services that meet the needs of our Hazleton and Lehigh Valley communities."

Swinfard emphasized that the quality of the care and the people who provide that care at GHHA were the keys to its success and what made affiliating with LVHN a natural fit. "We are anxious to continue lear Edwards and Dr. Swinfard said the merged organization would conduct a needs assessment to determine how it would meet the health care needs of the community going forward.

Lehigh Valley Health Network includes three hospital facilities two in Allentown and one in Bethlehem.; nine health centers caring for communities in four counties; primary and specialty care physician practices; pharmacy, imaging, home health services and lab services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred. Specialty care includes: trauma care at the region's busiest, most-experienced trauma center treating adults and children, burn care at the regional Burn Center, kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer care, and neurology and complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.