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Sacred Heart News

Sacred Heart Hospital Celebrates National Volunteer Week

Allentown, PA To celebrate National Volunteer Week, Sacred Heart Hospital will hold a Volunteer Recognition Ceremony this Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. in Sacred Heart Hospital’s Auditorium.  Sacred Heart Hospital President & CEO John Nespoli will present the awards along with Vice President Stephen Lanshe and Beth Fogel, Director, Volunteer Services.

This year in addition to the Recognition Ceremony, we congratulate Sacred Heart Volunteers who are being recognized by other Lehigh Valley organizations. 

The County of Lehigh’s Office of Aging & Adult Services has selected Tom Kelly and Bob Grim for Unsung Heroes Awards.  The Unsung Heroes Awards honor older adults of our community who display exceptional generosity with their time and talent to enhance the lives of others. 

Tom had hardly retired from his job at the Lehigh County Courthouse (3 weeks) when he started volunteering at Sacred Heart in 2013 and he has been here, faithfully, 3 days a week ever since.  He is always eager to help with a big smile and with his friendly manner.  He even showed up during the big snowstorm, on his day off, with doughnuts in hand because he knew many volunteers would be unable to make it in.

Bob has been a part of our volunteer team for two years and is always looking to help.  He goes above and beyond to help others and can often be seen in our Gift Shop purchasing a drink for a patient waiting for a ride home.  He’ll stay late to provide care for patients or to help other volunteers. 

Jack & Helen Bischof are nominees of the United Way’s Sam and Betsy Torrence “Partners in Volunteerism” Award.  This award is given to a married couple who, together, make meaningful volunteer contributions to the community.  Jack and Helen have been volunteering for over 20 years at Sacred Heart, giving over 10,000 hours of service!  Helen volunteers in the Cancer Center as well as in the Volunteer Office as the desk coordinator.  Jack has “a way” of putting patients at ease when escorting them to their destination.  He talks to them and uses the utmost care when pushing our wheelchair patients.  When asked why they volunteer at Sacred Heart they say, “It’s all about the people that are here and the people that come here and need our help.”

We are so very grateful to all of our volunteers who choose to give their time and do so much at Sacred Heart Hospital every day to help staff, patients and visitors.

The Sacred Heart Hospital Foundation Will Participate in the Highmark Walk For A Healthy Community

The Foundation will join twenty-five selected Health and Human Service organizations at the annual Highmark Walk For A Healthy Community on June 4, 2016 at .  Highmark underwrites the cost of the event, allowing 100% of the proceeds made by the Foundation to go directly back to the hospital.  This year, all the proceeds will go towards the refurbishment of Sacred Heart’s Older Adult Behavioral Medicine Center, a special floor at the hospital dedicated to 55+ patients with dementia and other behavioral issues. The Foundation hopes to raise $10,000 with the help of individual walkers and teams, who can sign up for a 5K walk or a “Fun 1 Mile” walk.

The Older Adult Behavioral Medicine Center (OABMC) is a unique, 28-bed unit that treats adults with behavioral health conditions who are 55 years and older, 20% of whom suffer from some form of dementia.  The OABMC team works with patients individually to maintain or improve their cognitive skills, physical health, and social skills.  The patient list for the OABMC consists of referrals from nursing homes, patients whose family can no longer successfully care for their needs, and homeless individuals with limited or no other options.  Consistently full with a waiting list, this unit is an integral part of behavioral health care at the hospital.

Our goal is to raise $10,000 to aid in the refurbishment of the floor’s community room, which provides patients with a recreational space to eat their meals, interact with one another and spend time with the staff outside of their individual rooms.  To help support our unit, please register to walk!  There are several ways to walk, either as an individual or as a team.  Please check our website at http://www.shh.org/community-services/foundation/highmarkwalk.asp for the registration link.  

Zika Virus Causing Worldwide Concern

The Zika virus is prompting worldwide concern because of an alarming connection to a neurological birth disorder and the rapid spread of the virus across the globe. Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The same mosquito also transmits 3 other vector-borne diseases -- dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.  It is recommended that if you are pregnant, may be pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant you postpone any travel plans to the Caribbean including Puerto Rico and South America.

On February 1, 2016 The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern after a substantial spike of cases of microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome in the Americas. These cases are strongly suspected to be linked to the Zika virus.  On February 3, 2016 the state of Florida declared a state of emergency in 4 counties due to travel related cases. Also in February, Zika cases associated with travel have been confirmed in the United States.

There is evidence that Zika virus can be sexually transmitted from a man to his partners. It is recommended that sexually active men should postpone travel plans to South America and the Caribbean including Puerto Rico. It is also recommended that pregnant women discuss with their male partner any potential exposures to mosquitoes, as well as their history of Zika-like illness and symptoms.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

To lower the risk of being infected with Zika virus: use insect repellent; cover as much of the body as possible with long, light-colored clothing; empty, clean or cover containers that can hold water to remove places mosquitoes can breed; and sleep under mosquito nets.

As information about the Zika virus changes daily, we recommend you go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/ for up to date information.

To monitor the Zika virus outbreak maps click here:  www.shh.org/zika

Sacred Heart Hospital Earns ‘Top Performer on Key Quality Measures®’ Recognition

(Allentown, November 20, 2015) – Sacred Heart Hospital announced today that it has been recognized as a 2014 Top Performer on Key Quality Measures® by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in the United States.
Sacred Heart Hospital was recognized as part of The Joint Commission’s 2015 annual report “America’s Hospitals: Improving Quality and Safety,” for attaining and sustaining excellence in accountability measure performance for heart attack, heart failure, surgical care and stroke. Sacred Heart Hospital is one of only 1,043 hospitals out of more than 3,300 eligible hospitals in the United States to achieve the 2014 Top Performer distinction.The Top Performer program recognizes hospitals for improving performance on evidence-based interventions that increase the chances of healthy outcomes for patients with certain conditions.
This is the third year Sacred Heart Hospital has been recognized as a Top Performer. Sacred Heart Hospital was recognized in 2013 for its performance on accountability measure data for pneumonia, surgical care and stroke and in 2012 for heart attack, pneumonia and surgical care.

To be a 2014 Top Performer, hospitals had to meet three performance criteria based on 2014 accountability measure data, including:
• Achieve cumulative performance of 95 percent or above across all reported accountability measures;
• Achieve performance of 95 percent or above on each and every reported accountability measure with at least 30 denominator cases; and
• Have at least one core measure set that had a composite rate of 95 percent or above, and within that measure set, achieve a performance rate of 95 percent or above on all applicable individual accountability measures.

“Delivering the right treatment in the right way at the right time is a cornerstone of high-quality health care. I commend the efforts of Sacred Heart Hospital for their excellent performance on the use of evidence-based interventions,” said Mark R. Chassin, MD, FACP, MPP, MPH, president and CEO, The Joint Commission.
“We understand that what matters most to patients at Sacred Heart Hospital is the quality and safety of the care they receive. That is why we have made it a top priority to improve patient outcomes through evidence-based care processes,” said President and CEO John Nespoli, Sacred Heart Hospital. Sacred Heart Hospital is proud to be named a Top Performer as it recognizes the knowledge, teamwork and dedication of our entire hospital staff.”
For more information about the Top Performer program, visit


Sacred Heart Surgeon Selected 2015 Physician of the Year

General and bariatric surgeon Peter F. Rovito, MD, FACS was named 2015 Physician of the Year by Lehigh Valley Business Journal earlier this year. Dr. Rovito, a solo private practice surgeon in practice since 1988, performs all of his surgical procedures at Sacred Heart Hospital.
Dr. Rovito was selected for this honor from a distinguished field of Lehigh Valley surgeons by a panel of judges engaged by Lehigh Valley Business Journal as part of its Second Annual Health Care Heroes event, created to honor the efforts of individuals and organizations making a significant impact on the quality of health care in the Greater Lehigh Valley. Those considered in several health care professional categories perform in ways considered exemplary by patients and peers, according to LVBJ’s description of the award criteria.
Dr. Rovito’s many trips to Third World countries to provide free surgery to those who might otherwise have no access to care and his 26 years of training the next generation of American surgeons were cited by Lehigh Valley Business Journal as some of the reasons he was selected by the judges for this honor:

“Regular mission trips to developing countries, however, remind Dr. Peter F. Rovito how rewarding it is to be able to heal and care for others.  And he shares that insight with the residents who regularly come through his practice.
“Over the last 27 years, he has cared for countless general surgery patients in the Lehigh Valley.  He also has pioneered bariatric surgery in the region, performing more than 2,000 bariatric procedures.
“More than 100 surgical residents, meanwhile, have passed through his practice.  While they have moved all over the country, many still keep in touch with Dr. Rovito and seek him out for advice and support.
“His medical missions, arranged through the World Surgical Foundation, or WSF, have taken him to Ethiopia, Honduras, India, and the Philippines.  On each weeklong trip, Rovito performs between 15 and 30 surgeries.”  

                        Lehigh Valley Business Journal Health Care Heroes Supplement

"I'm honored and humbled to have received this award, said Dr. Rovito. “Physicians don't do what they do for recognition - but it's nice when your peers and the community acknowledge your commitment to your patients.”

“Although the practice of medicine has changed considerably since I hung out my shingle in 1988, I’ve always tried to ensure that my residents understand that the most important thing they can do is to treat all of their patients as unique individuals deserving of compassion and the best surgical care they can possibly provide,” Dr. Rovito said to LVB. 

Dr. Rovito’s commitment to resident education is also reflected in his selection as “Teacher of the Year” by his surgical residents several times.

Taking Breast Cancer Awareness on the Road

Allentown, PA---- As part of National Breast Cancer Awareness month and to further the fight against breast cancer, Sacred Heart Hospital and LANta have formed a special partnership to remind women to make their annual mammogram appointment. It’s not a reminder many will miss. A pink Sacred Heart Hospital/LANta bus is now on the streets with the message that early detection is the key to beating breast cancer.

 The leadership of the ATU Local 956 came to LANta Executive Director, Owen O’Neil, with the idea of using LANta buses and employees to raise breast cancer awareness.  The idea was to have a pink bus with bus drivers wearing pink shirts during October.  The union also wanted to make a donation to a breast cancer charity.  “So many LANta employees and their families have been affected by breast cancer and we wanted to do something to help the community,” said Rick Vega, President of the ATU Local 956.  “Being the son of a breast cancer victim and the brother of a survivor, I liked the idea,” O’Neil said. 

 The leadership of the ATU Local 956 came to LANta Executive Director, Owen O’Neil, with the idea of using LANta buses and employees to raise breast cancer awareness.  The idea was to have a pink bus with bus drivers wearing pink shirts during October.  The union also wanted to make a donation to a breast cancer charity.  “So many LANta employees and their families have been affected by breast cancer and we wanted to do something to help the community,” said Rick Vega, President of the ATU Local 956.  “Being the son of a breast cancer victim and the brother of a survivor, I liked the idea,” O’Neil said. 

As a publicly funded entity LANta is not allowed to make charitable contributions.  But LANta periodically buys uniform shirts for its employees so they purchased pink breast cancer awareness uniform shirts.  On Thursday, October 15th the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 956, which represents LANta bus drivers and maintenance workers, were joined by Sacred Heart and LANta leaders for the bus’ inaugural run and for the presentation of a donation of $1,500 to the hospital's Lanshe Breast Center and Parish Nurse Program. 

Since 2009 the Parish Nurses of Sacred Heart Hospital have done extensive outreach in the community about the importance of mammograms. Donations from the local Woman’s 5K Classic and the Susan G. Komen Affiliate Philadelphia also support the Parish Nurses.  Since 2012 Sacred Heart Parish Nurses have been actively engaged in women’s health and breast cancer awareness outreach and education to over 2,300 women.

 In addition, the Parish Nurse program is able to cover the cost of a mammogram for woman who may be uninsured and has helped thousands of women with funding for mammograms or breast cancer treatment.  Sacred Heart is a leader in promoting women’s health and in the fight against cancer.  “The new pink bus will promote the importance of early detection in all the neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley.  We are grateful to the members to the ATU for their commitment to the women of the Lehigh Valley and to Sacred Heart Hospital,” said Holly Edinger, Sacred Heart Hospital Director of Community and Government Relations.

Pocket Park Pops Up on Chew Street Due to Community Collaboration

Citizens Park officially opened on September 3rd when a group of community leaders cut the ribbon to the beautiful pocket park at 619 Chew Street. Sandwiched between two homes, the park is surrounded by colorful landscape murals on the walls of the adjacent homes painted under the direction of lead artist Matt Helm. Along with the murals, new trees, benches, grass, and plants were added so neighborhood residents would have a lovely spot to visit and relax. 

The property was donated to Sacred Heart Hospital in 2013 by Pat and Jack Pressman, longtime Allentown residents and employees of Sacred Heart.  Sacred Heart in turn offered the lot to the community and the vision for the park was developed by the residents of the Jordan Heights neighborhood. Wells Fargo Bank invested over $20,000 to the development of the park.  Wells Fargo employees joined neighborhood residents in volunteering their time to clean-up and plant the park.  But it didn’t stop there, along with the above-mentioned organizations; it was a collaborative effort that included Community Action Development Corp of Allentown, City of Allentown, United Youth Party, Housing Authority Development Corp, Brown Design, Rodale Institute, State Rep. Peter Schweyer and Upside Allentown.

This beautiful park is now open and ready for folks to visit for a few minutes of quiet reflection, to read a book or just enjoy the scenery thanks to everyone working together, and of course the Pressman family, pillars in the community whose generosity will be felt for years to come. 

Community Partners Come Together at Sacred Heart’s Back to School Event

Allentown, PAOn Tuesday, July 28th Sacred Heart distributed over 600 back packs and vouchers for free school uniform polo shirts to children entering kindergarten through twelfth grade this fall.  Representatives from several Lehigh Valley community organizations came together at Sacred Heart Hospital’s Sigal Center for Family Medicine for the 4th Annual Healthy Kids…Back to School event to get kids ready for school. Each child took home from a Morning Call book drive where they collected over 1500 books so each child could do some summer reading.  The 4th Annual Healthy Kids…Back to School event also included information on how to stay healthy with exercise and healthy eating tips, information on pediatric services, and a wheel of freebies game that quizzed the children on healthy choices.  But the real hit of the day was an appearance from FeERROUS, the IronPigs mascot, who danced with the kids and got them moving around to the music that was provided by a live DJ.  They also loved the sun butter & jelly sandwiches from Capital Blue Cross and the balloon animals and face painting.

All this was made possible thanks to generous funding from the IronPigs Foundation and The Allentown Health Bureau.  The voucher for the free school uniform polo shirt can be redeemed at The Archive, 627 Hamilton Street, Allentown.

The event, developed in 2011 during Sacred Heart’s 100th Anniversary celebrations, was established to give back to the families in the immediate neighborhoods surrounding Sacred Heart Hospital and better prepare the children for school.  In an effort to grow the 2015 event, Sacred Heart reached out to these additional partners who also found it in their hearts to positively impact children from center city Allentown neighborhoods:

Aetna – Information for community members

Allentown Health Bureau – Fruit and Veggie Truck

AmeriHealth Caritas – Information for community members

The Archive – Provided a discount to Sacred Heart Hospital for the purchase of backpacks

Barb Moore – Creative balloon flowers and animals

Capital Blue Cross – Healthy snacks of sun butter & jelly sandwiches

Central Catholic High School – Cold water and helpful volunteers

Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Hardworking interns and mascot, FeRROUS, on hand to greet the children

Sacred Heart Hospital –Wheel of Freebies, Pediatric Information, Face Painting, Wellness Navigator

Senator Pat Browne’s Office – Community Information

Representative Peter Schweyer’s Office – Community Information

The Morning Call – Book collection resulting in 1,500 free books distributed to children

Weller Health Education Center – Healthy exercises, fun games for the participants

Geoffery G. Hallock, M.D. Awarded Prestigious Fu-Chan Wei Award in Taipei, Taiwan

Allentown, PAGeoffrey G. Hallock, M.D. was recently awarded the Fu-Chan Wei Award for Excellence in Reconstructive Surgery at the annual Chang Gung-Mayo Clinic Symposium in Taipei, Taiwan during their Gala Banquet. The Fu Chan Wei Award recognizes international expertise and a lifelong commitment in the area of reconstructive microsurgery, and was named in honor of Fu Chan Wei, M.D., acknowledged as the number one microsurgeon in the world.  Dr. Hallock is the 5th recipient of this prestigious award.   While attending the symposium, Dr. Hallock also presented several topics including “The 4P’s that Make a Microsurgeon—Persistent, Perfectionist, Pragmatist, and Paranoid.”  These character traits probably describe all surgeons well, especially the last quality in this day and age of the practice [or business] of medicine.

Dr. Hallock is a triple board-certified plastic surgeon, general surgeon, and hand surgeon, who is well-known nationally and internationally for his reconstructive work in addition to microsurgery.  His engineering background includes a Bachelor in Science degree in Physics from M.I.T., tempered by his being named the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete upon graduation.  He received a medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and trained in general surgery at Dartmouth in Vermont & New Hampshire. He then completed a plastic surgery fellowship at the University of North Carolina including a brief cosmetic surgery fellowship in Miami, Florida.

Dr. Hallock is an active member of numerous plastic surgery societies and a prolific writer on many different plastic surgery topics, having authored more than 400 journal articles and 62 book chapters.  He is an associate editor of almost every major plastic surgery journal.  Some also say he has no sense of humor, but it is well known that he can prevent sleep deprivation on all continents.

Dr. Hallock has been a dedicated surgeon in the Lehigh Valley for 33 years, primarily at Sacred Heart and St. Luke’s Hospital.  He provides his surgical expertise in reconstructive surgery in addition to microsurgery to include skin grafting, carpal tunnel surgery, tendon repairs for hand injuries, complex wound management, repair of MOHS procedures after skin cancer removal, and free flap body tissue transfers of any part to another where missing.  As of June, 2014, Dr. Hallock and his superb team have performed over 950 free flap surgeries.  With the help of his colleagues, patients in the Lehigh Valley will continue to receive the exceptional care they need without having to travel far from home.

Grand Opening of 5th Floor of the Sacred Heart Tower

This week Sacred Heart Hospital unveiled renovations it has made to its 5 Tower medical floor which is now home to 18 private rooms for the recovery for surgical patients. The renovated space is designed around Sacred Heart’s patient-centered philosophy of care. The space is personal and warm. Smaller nursing stations are now physically closer to the patient rooms so clinical staff are more accessible to the patients and their families.

In addition the floor was remodeled to have lounge areas for families and friends. These spaces have access to refrigerators and water/ice stations. The patient rooms also have accommodations for family members to stay overnight and provide support to the patient. Sacred Heart understands that recovery can be both physical and emotional and having family support can make a difference in helping a patient to return home quicker.

All rooms contain wireless access to a new state of the art electronic medical record system giving physicians, nurses and patients immediate access to information critical for their care.

Major funding for this project came from Donald B. and Dorothy L. Stabler Foundation, The Air Products Foundation, Harry C. Trexler Trust and the ’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

General Contractor:  Boyle Construction

Architect: MKSD Architects


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