Easton Hospital narrowed its areas of focus in 2019 by partnering with St. Lukes University Health Network for certain services, and plans to add to that list in 2020.
Linda Grass, president of Steward Health Cares Easton Hospital, described the new partnerships as part of a rebuilding of the Wilson Borough facilitys mission. The hospital cant be all things to all people, Grass said during the hospital board of trustees annual public meeting Nov. 21.
The bottom line for the trustees' chairman, Dr. Bruce Miles, is maintaining the jobs of the hospital's close to 600 employees.
"I think about it every day," Miles said, adding he is proud of the way the hospital's administration has been "stepping up to the plate."
Easton Hospital this year stopped providing neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, services and cardiothoracic surgery through its partnership with St. Lukes. And while Easton Hospital continues to provide primary care for stroke patients as a Joint Commission Certified Primary Stroke Center, it is partnering with St. Lukes on tele-stroke consultations and transferring to St. Lukes those patients in need of high acuity interventional procedures, a Steward Health Care spokeswoman said.
St. Lukes simply does a higher volume of cardiac care, Grass said, and thats something patients are looking for.
Easton Hospital is and will remain an accredited Chest Pain Center with a fully integrated, 24/7 cardiac catheterization lab to provide first response care for patients experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, St. Lukes said in a July news post on its website. Open-heart surgery for patients who transfer will be performed at St. Lukes University Hospital in Fountain Hill.
Beginning in 2020, Easton Hospital will send St. Lukes its patients in need of electrophysiology to diagnose heart issues.
Also next year, Easton Hospital plans to evaluate its obstetrics/gynecological services, including its maternity unit, Grass said. Nothing has been decided, and babies will continue to be born at Easton Hospital for the foreseeable future, Steward Health Care spokeswoman Trish Hrina said.
As it narrows its focus, Eastons goal is to remain a strong community hospital while expanding its base of primary care physicians, recruiting new care providers to fill gaps in service and coverage and working to become the regional emergency department of choice, Grass said. Toward that last goal, the hospital this month introduced its new chief of emergency medicine, Dr. Joseph Faccio, who is familiar with the area as a former Easton firefighter.
Steve Novak | For lehighvalleylive.com
Easton Hospital at 250 S. 21st St. in Wilson Borough is seen in April 2019.
Easton Hospital is also focused on burnishing its image and reputation, while expanding niche surgical programs.
In one so-called niche surgical area, Easton has become one of the area's busiest centers for bariatric surgery, handling around 600 in its operating room this year, Grass said. And it's a "leading performer" in digestive health procedures, she said.
The hospital also invested $1.9 million in a Da Vinci robot used in surgery for all types of hernias, hysterectomies, gallbladder removal, bowel resections and bariatric gastric sleeves.
On the public relations front, Easton Hospital was involved in over 100 community events this year, according to physician liaison and 31-year Easton Hospital employee Janine Santee. That includes maintaining a weekly presence at the Easton Farmers Market, sponsoring PA Bacon Fest and going out to local businesses to offer biometric screenings like lab work, blood pressure checks and BMI evaluations, Santee recounted at this months trustees meeting.
The hospital will also continue to support the State Theatre and Easton Public Market, according to Grass.
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