St. Joseph to expand oncology services with Medical Center agreement

April 02, 2009

St. Joseph Medical Center and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center have signed an agreement that will expand the range, comprehensiveness and quality of oncology services to St. Joseph patients through affiliation with Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute.

The agreement is the first step in the development of a series of collaborative arrangements between the organizations aimed at enhancing and expanding other clinical programs at St. Joseph and, in turn, creating a coordinated and unified medical link to services at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

“The opportunity to collaborate and the synergy that will occur with Penn State Hershey opens up many arenas from patient care, teaching, research, and improving the medical care we provide to patients and ultimately improving the quality of life in the Berks community,” explains John Morahan, St. Joseph President/CEO. “The partnership reflects what St. Joseph Medical Center is all about today, but it is also the start of a model with Penn State Hershey that fits what we believe is one of the emerging paradigms for health care in the future.”

Under this and future agreements, St. Joseph patients requiring levels of care not available in the county will benefit from expedited access to medical and surgical specialists and subspecialists of Penn State Hershey either at St. Joseph Medical Center or in Hershey. Patients also will gain access to the academic medical center's clinical research study programs.

“These affiliations are emerging around the nation as a way to ensure that hospitals are anticipating the medical needs of their communities and finding innovative ways to provide affordable, high quality care in the appropriate clinical settings,” said Harold L. Paz, chief executive officer, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and senior vice president for health affairs at Penn State. “Through this partnership, we combine our organizations’ strengths to provide comprehensive cancer prevention and care services to the Berks community.”

As an example of how the affiliation would work, St. Joseph points to its new stroke program, which has evolved over the past several months in collaboration with Penn State Hershey.

The joint effort led to the training of more than 100 St. Joseph nurses, the creation of a designated patient unit for stroke victims in Bern Township and an emergency response protocol that enables St. Joseph’s Emergency Room staff to collaborate with EMS providers to speed up patient arrivals and quickly administer the clot-busting medication known as t-PA. If a stroke patient needs a higher level of care not available in Berks, Penn State Hershey neuroscience physicians are available for consult, currently by phone. Soon, emerging technologies at Hershey and St. Joseph that allow consulting physicians to virtually see a case will improve diagnosis and treatment planning. If necessary, Life Lion – Penn State Hershey’s air ambulance – is dispatched to transport the patient to Hershey.

Penn State Hershey continues to work with St. Joseph staff to gain national accreditation for the stroke program as well as to develop other elements of its neuroscience services program under the local leadership of Steven Schwartz, a neurosurgeon who also holds an appointment as a Penn State College of Medicine faculty member.

“Cancer is a disease that doesn’t travel well, yet it often requires multiple levels of care that aren’t always available close to home,” said Thomas P. Loughran, Jr., Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute director. “Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute’s goal is to partner with community organizations like St. Joseph Medical Center to offer residents throughout Pennsylvania the broadest possible access to preventative, diagnostic, and treatment options for all types of cancer close to where they live.”

St. Joseph is a full-service, community teaching hospital with more than 1,400 employees and is a Top 10 employer in Berks County. It is widely recognized for its medical and surgical innovation in cardiology, pulmonary, vascular, oncology, neurosciences, women's and wound care services. St. Joseph’s has a two campus system and 15 outpatient facilities in Berks, Chester, Schuylkill and Montgomery Counties. St. Joseph is part of a national health care system called Catholic Health Initiatives, which has nearly 70 member health facilities in 19 states.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 02, 2009