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Hazleton Health Alliance joins Lehigh Valley Health Network

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 09 2014 05:11:34 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 09 2014 05:52:30 PM CST

It's a new chapter for health care in Hazleton.

HAZLETON, Pa. -

It's a new chapter for health care in Hazleton.

The Greater Hazleton Health Alliance and Lehigh Valley Hospital are now one.

"Today we are officially Lehigh Valley Health Network," said Thomas Kennedy, Chairmain of the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton Board of Trustees.

Hazleton General Hospital and LVHN have partnered for years.

Officials say the merger was the next logical step in enhancing quality health care in the area.

But with any merger..comes a level of uncertainty.

"We have no intentions of down sizing this, in fact this hospital is so darn busy today who would think of trying to run it with even one less employee," said LVHN President and CEO Ronald Swinfard.

"Both of our organizations realize that our successes are due to our employees, our dedicated colleagues are on the front line caring for our community every day," said John Fletcher, Interim President of LVH-Hazleton.

So far, the network has initiated two major changes.

First, LVHN will add the expertise and support of 40 board certified radiology professionals to the Hazleton campus.

And secondly, one of LVHN's MedEvac helicopters will be stationed on site.

"So that when patients need emergent care they can be immediately transported, listen closely, immediately transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital Hazleton for evaluation. If they need higher levels of care then we will be able to coordinate that through the network," said Swinfard.

LVHN officials say other changes following the merger are a work in progress.

But now that the two health care organizations have become one, it will be easier to learn how best to enhance care in the region.