Lehigh Valley Health Network officials said to expect “dynamic changes” now that the health care system has acquired Pocono Health System.
The merger between the two health care systems was made official Sunday, 19 months after officials signed a letter of intent to merge.
Aside from a name change—Pocono Medical Center in East Stroudsburg is now Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono— LVHN plans to add more services and recruit more physicians in the region, Elizabeth Wise, the new acting director of LVH-Pocono, said at a news conference Tuesday at LVH-Pocono.
Jeff Snyder, the former president and CEO, resigned Saturday but is consulting through the transition in administration.
Brian Nester, president and CEO of LVHN, said it was not known how many physicians could be added, but some would be contract positions.
Pocono Health System made cuts to its workforce twice this year, with the most recent in December when it cut 2 percent, or about 50 employees, including nurses and other health care workers.
Wise said it is too early to determine if jobs or departments will be restructured as a result of the merger.
Geoffrey M. Roche, a spokesman for LVH-Pocono, said they did not anticipate further cuts.
LVHN plans to invest in medical specialties such as obstetrics, surgery, cardiology, neurology, stroke care, orthopedics, among others, Nester said.
John Stanley, chair of LVHN’s board of trustees, said the merger comes at a time of dramatic change in health care.
The two health care systems will be able to provide the resources necessary to provide an integrated health care system that provides “the highest quality at the lowest cost,” Stanley said.
“Make no mistake— there’s a lot of work ahead of us,” he said.
Competition for patients has increased in the Poconos since St. Luke’s University Health Network opened a new $90 million hospital in Bartonsville in October.
“Obviously that’s a challenge for organizations like Pocono Medical Center, which had been the only hospital in the area for 100 years” Nester said.
“I think there’s room for two organizations to serve this community and we’ll work collaboratively with them,” he said.
Nester said the 48-bed acute care hospital that Pocono Health System had planned to build in Tannersville is “still on the table.”
“We are in support of the plan, but we are not sure what it will look like,” he said, indicating it could be something other than a hospital.
Wise said the plan to merge the two organizations “cannot be done with a flip of a switch,” but the two “share a culture in which patients come first.”
Wise encouraged her colleagues to “embrace the dynamic changes ahead.”
Among the changes will be the integration of LVHN’s electronic medical record system, EPIC, into Pocono Health System’s system, she said.
Brandon Igdalsky, president and CEO of Pocono Raceway, said as a member of the business community, he is excited about the merger between LVHN and Pocono Health System “because convenient access to quality care is essential to attracting new jobs to the area.”
Igdalsky is the grandson of Dr. Joseph Mattioli, who supported emergency care at both hospital systems.
LVHN has long had a presence in the Pocono region with physician groups and had a partnership in trauma care at the Mattioli Emergency Center at the former Pocono Medical Center.
The merger solidifies LVHN as the region’s largest hospital and health care system, with eight hospital campuses in Lehigh, Northampton, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties and more than 13,000 employees.
The merger with Pocono Health System— Monroe County’s second largest employer–adds about 2,300 more employees, including about 200 physicians, bringing LVHN’s total to about 15,000.