Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, has announced that its proposed merger with Greater Hazleton Health Alliance (GHHA) has obtained regulatory clearance from the Federal Trade Commission, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office and the Orphans’ Court of Luzerne County.

The merger will become effective on 1 January 2014 and will result in one fully integrated health care system.

Pursuant to the terms of agreement, GHHA will merge into LVHN and LVHN will become the sole corporate member of Hazleton General Hospital (HGH), which will be known as Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton.

The merger was announced in April 2013 and builds upon the two entities working together over several years in various clinical service areas.

GHHA and LVHN began to jointly develop clinical relationships in the areas of MI alert response for heart attack care at HGH, emergency department coverage by LVHN physicians at HGH, and various telehealth initiatives including TeleInfectious Disease, TeleBurn and TeleStroke care to extend the benefits of LVHN’s specialist care capabilities in an efficient way in the Hazleton region.

LVHN president and CEO Dr Ronald Swinfard said that the organisation has anxiously awaited feedback from the various regulatory and review agencies since the announcement in the spring.

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"We are eager to begin discussing and implementing plans that will allow us to address our affiliation objectives. These objectives include high-quality, low-cost, sustainable health services that meet the needs of our Hazleton and Lehigh Valley communities," Dr Swinfard added.

GHHA president and CEO Jim Edwards said that Dr Swinfard and Lehigh Valley Health Network have demonstrated their commitment to the community time and time again through existing clinical partnerships.

"We’re excited that now we can take this relationship to a new level as part of LVHN and focus on expanding and adding to our services so that people don’t have to leave Hazleton for specialty care," Edwards added.

Edwards and Dr Swinfard said the merged organisation would conduct a needs assessment to determine how to meet the healthcare needs of the community going forward.

LVHN includes three hospital facilities – two in Allentown and one in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; nine health centres caring for communities in four counties; primary and specialty care physician practices; pharmacy, imaging, home health services and lab services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred.

GHHA is a not-for-profit healthcare system that is dedicated to providing high quality, state-of-the-art, customer-focused healthcare services.

Image: The merger will become effective on 1 January 2014. Photo courtesy of Lehigh Valley Health Network.