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LVHN growing with three new hospitals Carbon expected in 2021; Monroe in planning stages

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    Dr. Brian Nestor, president and chief executive officer of Lehigh Valley Health Network, talks about the different ways the network partners with the community and its patients at the 2019 Community Annual Meeting. He also covered the various expansion projects including three new hospitals in Lehighton, Tannersville and Lower Nazareth Township. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS

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    Dr. Brian Nestor, president and chief executive officer of Lehigh Valley Health Network, talks about the different ways the network partners with the community and its patients at the 2019 Community Annual Meeting. He also covered the various expansion projects including three new hospitals in Lehighton, Tannersville and Lower Nazareth Township. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS

Published December 05. 2019 10:08PM

In addition to continued growth in Lehigh County, Lehigh Valley Health Network is growing with three new hospitals slated to begin within the next year.

The groundbreaking for the hospital just off Route 33 along Hecktown Road in Lower Nazareth Township was held today. Planning continues on LVHN-Pocono West in Tannersville along Route 715, and zoning was approved for LVHN-Carbon in Lehighton along Route 443.

“We are in the midst of one of the most significant periods in our history,” said Dr. Brian Nestor, president and chief executive officer of LVHN, at the 2019 Community Annual Meeting.

The Northampton County site will hold a 106,000-square-foot, two-story hospital that will include a 35,000-squre-foot Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute and a 61,000-square-foot medical office building. It will open the summer of 2021, Nestor said.

A date for the groundbreaking of the Carbon campus hasn’t been set yet, but completion of the hospital is expected to occur in the fall of 2021, he said. The new hospital will offer surgical, heart, cancer, emergency, imaging and other services.

In 2019, LVHN opened ExpressCARE locations in Lehighton, Palmerton and Pottsville to care for patients with minor illnesses or injuries, who want to be seen without an appointment. These three new locations bring the total number of ExpressCARE units to 21. Nestor said in this year alone, these centers have seen 208,000 patients.

“You appreciate the convenience, and we appreciate your trust in us,” he said.

The Lehighton center is at 363 N. First St. In Palmerton, the center is located at 528 Delaware Ave., and at 200 Schuylkill Medical Plaza in Pottsville.

Nestor said in the three years that LVHN has been involved in Schuylkill County, the health network has invested more than $60 million “in the health of our neighbors there.”

LVHN is also investing in Hazleton. The health network has renovated patient rooms at the hospital and is also doubling the size of the emergency department.

More than 32,000 people visit the emergency room there each year, Nestor said. A portion of the new emergency department is now open, and the rest will be available soon.

The hospital room renovations provide flex rooms that can be easily transitioned from semi-private to private depending on patient demand.

At the annual community meeting, Nestor emphasized the different ways LVHN is a partner to the communities it serves and to the patients. He said by delivering quality health care, the cost of health care is less for the patient.

“When you get the right care the first time, you avoid unnecessary health care costs and return visits to your doctor or hospital,” he said. “Quality care costs less. That’s value.”

Two years ago, LVHN partnered with Highmark to create the health insurance plan Lehigh Valley Flex Blue. The plan encourages participants to use LVHN providers.

Since it was launched, employers using the plan have seen claims to the emergency rooms go down 3%. In 2019, hospital admissions remained flat and ER visits dropped. LVHN also saw an 11% increase in ExpressCARE visits and a 6% increase in visits to the doctors’ offices.

“That’s strong evidence that LVHN patients are receiving the care they need to stay healthy in settings – such as doctors’ offices – where care is less costly to provide,” he said. “That’s health care value.”

While focusing on value, LVHN achieved an operating margin of 3.9% for the budget year ending in June 2019.

As a community partner, LVHN has served more than 800 lunches to children in need as part of its Summer Meal Program. The health network has also provided free flu shots to nearly 9,000 people and collected seven tons of food for area food banks. The food was collected during its annual drive-thru flu shot clinic.

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