Lehigh Valley Health Network officially welcomed its new colleagues from the former Greater Hazleton Health Alliance into the Allentown-based health network Thursday during a celebration of their recent merger at the newly named Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton.

LVHN also announced that as a result of the merger, which took effect Jan. 1, one of the first actions to enhance patient care in the Hazleton area is the permanent move of the Lehigh Valley Health Network MedEvac helicopter stationed in Weatherly to LVH-Hazleton.

MedEvac leadership said having the helicopter stationed at LVH-Hazleton allows the crew to work more directly with local first responders who transport patients to the hospital for evaluation. Should those patients need an even higher level of care, they can be transported to the appropriate facility for the right treatment.

"We've stated on numerous occasions how the merger can help both organizations learn from each other about how to do things better to enhance care," says MedEvac director Keith Micucci, CRNP. "The relocation of MedEvac is an example as the helicopter would add another resource to the level of care provided in the Hazleton area, when necessary."

LVHN MedEvac helicopters are also based in Berks, Monroe and Schuylkill counties.

Another change coming right away at LVH-Hazleton as a direct result of the merger is that Medical Imaging of Lehigh Valley will assume responsibility for radiology professional services at that hospital campus and at the Health and Wellness Center at Hazleton. The move brings to the region the expertise of more than 40 board-certified radiologists; physician availability 24/7; and an efficient and comprehensive Teleradiology service that complements the on-site services at the hospital and wellness center.

"Medical Imaging of Lehigh Valley is a well-established imaging group with an excellent reputation in the Lehigh Valley," says radiology department chair Donald Patten, MD, who has worked with MILV. "Its staff of professional and experienced board-certified radiologists has always been responsive to our requests. The quality of imaging reads we receive from MILV is exceptional. This affiliation is definitely a move in the right direction for patient care in our community."

Signage identifying the hospital as LVH-Hazleton was also unveiled at the event. In addition, the former Hazleton Health and Wellness Center is now known as the Health and Wellness Center at Hazleton. Ron Swinfard, MD, LVHN's president and CEO, said there will be other changes over the next 12 months as work continues to fully integrate the merged organizations.

Lehigh Valley Health Network includes four hospital facilities two in Allentown, one in Bethlehem and Hazleton; 10 health centers in five 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. Children's Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital, the only children's hospital in the region, provides care in 28 specialties and general pediatrics.

Lehigh Valley Health Network has been recognized by US News & World Report for 18 consecutive years as one of America's Best Hospitals and is a national Magnet hospital for excellence in nursing. Lehigh Valley Health Network's Cancer Center is one of only 21 sites nationwide that partners with the national Cancer Institute's Community Cancer Centers Program.

Additional information is available at lvhn.org and or by following at facebook.com/LVHealthNetwork and twitter.com/LVHN_MediaTeam.