Whitehall-Coplay Press

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOLehigh Valley Hospital Network officials cite coping with coronvirus (COVID-19) pandemic in furloughs of 900 staff members at Lehigh Valley Physician Group. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOLehigh Valley Hospital Network officials cite coping with coronvirus (COVID-19) pandemic in furloughs of 900 staff members at Lehigh Valley Physician Group.

COVID-19: Lehigh Valley Health Network to furlough 900 staff members at Lehigh Valley Physician Group

Sunday, March 29, 2020 by The Press in Focus

Reduced in-person office visits will result in furloughing more than 900 staff members in various positions at nearly 150 practice locations of Lehigh Valley Physician Group (LVPG), Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) announced.

“We want to assure those affected and our community that this is temporary,” said Michael Rossi, MD, President, LVPG.

“These are furloughs and not layoffs, meaning those affected will retain their benefits. Some will be redeployed as needed and appropriate,” Rossi said.

According to its website, LVPG is among the largest medical groups in the United States. Nearly 1,000 physicians and 600 advanced practice clinicians represent 48 medical specialties in more than 160 practices in the Allentown and Bethlehem area.

LVHN officials stated in a March 27 press release that the decisions are being made to cope with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

LVPG will reduce the number of in-person patient visits and the number of office sites open for in-person visits.

LVPG will implement the plan over the next two weeks. The plan will be communicated to patients through MyLVHN, email, LVHN.org and via letters.

“We need to take care of as many patients as possible during this pandemic, while making certain we are prepared for the future when this is over,” said Brian Nester, LVHN President and Chief Executive Officer.

“All patients will continue to have access to LVPG physicians and can choose how they wish to interact with that physician, electronically or in person,” Rossi said.

“Our technology group has expanded our video visit capabilities so that we can see patients via cell phone or other devices,” said Rossi.

“We can now provide a large volume of video visits, meaning we can see patients via their cell phone, tablet or laptop. Local LVPG providers with access to your [a patient’s] comprehensive medical record will provide this care,” Rossi said.

A patient’s doctor will be available via phone and the MyLVHN app. When a face-to-face visit is required, the appropriate LVPG provider will see the patient.

Rossi said LVPG is taking the unprecedented steps to reduce the number of in-person visits to physician practices and increase virtual-care services.

LVPG is making operational changes to ensure that its patients can be seen safely and that caregivers are available to help with the expected increase in COVID-19 patients.

Rossi said the changes will protect everyone from the spread of COVID-19 and keep health-care workers healthy and available to combat the pandemic.

LVHN has already made changes to hospital visitation policies, employee temperature screenings, reduced ambulatory surgeries, diagnostic testing and other ambulatory services.

“This unprecedented pandemic has greatly changed our everyday life.” Nester said. “For LVHN and LVPG, we are making aggressive daily adjustments to ensure our community maintains access to the high-quality care they expect and deserve, especially during this crisis.

“The safety and health of our colleagues and community members drives our every action and we are committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure that LVHN remains strong during this pandemic and that our citizens will be able to rely on us for their care long after COVID-19 is gone,” said Nester.

According to its website, LVPG practitioners perform approximately 2 million visits annually in the practices, hospitals and affiliated locations.

LVPG was founded in 1993 as a not-for-profit subsidiary of LVHN, one of the largest health systems in Pennsylvania.

Information: including for people with COVID-19 and links to LVHN COVID-19 Assess and Test locations: www.LVHN.org/covid19