LVHN pivots focus from long term care to vaccines

Written by on January 19, 2021

LVHN pivots focus from long term care to vaccines

By Hayden Mitman

January 19, 2021

Lehigh Valley hospitals began giving COVID-19 vaccines on December 18. Photo| Ben Stemrich / WLVR

The area’s largest healthcare provider has dropped out of a state program intended to prevent coronavirus outbreaks at long term care facilities to focus on vaccines.

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This week, the state announced a new plan to support long term care facilities throughout Pennsylvania. However, this will be a pared-down collaborative program based on a similar plan from last year. And, locally, the Lehigh Valley Health Network has opted out. 

Keara Klinepeter of the PA Department of Health, says the network is the only one of 11 healthcare providers that made up the Regional Response Health Collaborative to not participate.

“Lehigh Valley did not continue the journey with us. Lehigh has been experiencing a significant surge and needed to focus there. But, we know they are very committed to the long-term care facilities in their region,” Klinepeter says.

The original program was funded by $175 million from the CARES Act. The replacement program will only receive $6 million in state and federal funding per month through February. 

Robert Murphy, chief physician executive at LVHN, says the network remains committed to supporting these facilities. But “The current push for vaccine coupled with the positive COVID-19 cases in our hospitals requires our focused attention,” he says.  

Murphy added that LVHN is working to deliver coronavirus vaccines widely throughout the community, including to long term care facilities, and he says the process is moving swiftly. 

State health officials say they’re hoping to work with the incoming Biden administration to secure more funding to prevent coronavirus outbreaks at long term care facilities. 

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