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Healthcare Forum Speaks to the Future of  Medical Practice

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A healthcare forum was held on Sept. 21, when representatives from both St. Luke’s University Health Network and Moravian College informed students about the importance of healthcare and the  relationship between patients and practitioners.

The first speaker was Richard Anderson, St. Luke’s chief executive officer. Anderson explained that the mission of St. Luke’s is to advance leadership capabilities among professionals, improve the professional-to-patient dynamic, and continue to advance the use of technology, all while lowering costs.

“The thing that brings us together is culture, and culture to me is what people are doing when nobody’s looking,” said Anderson.  

Although the Network strives to maintain their mission, they face obstacles while managing 200 locations and 10 hospitals in various locations throughout the Lehigh Valley. Joel Fagerstrom, executive vice president and chief operating officer, spoke about the financial hardships that both the country and the healthcare industry face.

“We are headed to a healthcare crisis,” said Fagerstrom.

Medicare is in the process of making deals with hospitals in order to cut their coverage costs. For example, they offer a flat rate for a select number of patients, hoping that it will save Medicare money, although sometimes it costs them.

The main focus for St. Luke’s now is to balance their budget. Currently, 50 percent of their costs go toward labor, according to Fagerstrom. They are searching for a way to lower this figure  while keeping their providers and patients happy. With that, he says the four main priorities of St. Luke’s are employees, patients, the quality of care they provide, and the financial health of their non-profit.

Dr. Kerry H. Cheever, professor and chairperson of the department of nursing at Moravian College, spoke to the audience about her experience in the nursing field. She explained that one of the major challenges facing nursing is the struggle to focus on its heritage.

“As the largest group of healthcare professionals, we are the backbone to healthcare,” Cheever said. “Nothing is certain but death, taxes, and being seen by a nurse while seeking healthcare.”

Cheever described the various attributes about healthcare, but she emphasized that providing comfort, good hygiene, protection and the prevention of illness and injury are tantamount.

The forum helped to teach students about the mission of healthcare providers and the obstacles the organizations face.

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