St. Luke's University Health Network

News

Memorandum of Understanding Signing

DeSales University and St. Luke's Hospital - Bethlehem Campus Sign Memorandum of Understanding

Document Provides Alternate Facility in Emergency Hospital Evacuation

Robert J. Snyder (l) of DeSales and
Joel Fagerstrom of St. Luke's sign
the Memorandum of Understanding.

Center Valley, PA (7/12/2010) – Today officials at DeSales University and St. Luke’s Hospital – Bethlehem Campus signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that designates the university as the primary relocation site if St. Luke’s Hospital – Bethlehem Campus is faced with an emergency where a large number of the patients would need to be evacuated.

“Trying to locate an appropriate facility that can temporarily accommodate the special needs of ill patients would be a challenging task during a crisis,” said Joel Fagerstrom, COO at St. Luke’s Hospital & Heath Network.  “Pre-establishing a site that we know will support our hospital’s needs is a critical part of our emergency preparedness plan.”

“Emergency management is about relationships,” he continued. “Establishing a relationship with a partner and pre-planning for emergencies creates a more seamless execution during a crisis,” Fagerstrom explained.

Importance of Contingency Planning

"DeSales University is pleased to be able to offer St. Luke's Hospital our facilities, if needed, for a mass evacuation scenario," said Robert J. Snyder, Vice President for Administration and Finance. "We hope there is never a cause to implement this plan, but advance preparation will help St. Luke's and DeSales handle an emergency together if it would occur."

Fagerstrom agreed. “Hospitals have an inherent responsibility to know what kinds of situations might occur and plan accordingly, in the best interest of the community. This agreement will ultimately help to relieve some of the burden on county emergency management organizations especially during a far-reaching emergency,” he said. “When public safety agencies can help county emergency management, it benefits the community response overall.”

Located approximately six miles away DeSales’ University Center building is a good fit for the hospital’s needs, said Alan Lynch, Safety and Security Director at St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network. The 26,000 sq ft building has the infrastructure necessary to support the electrical, heating, air conditioning, space and food service that patients would need in order to keep them as comfortable as possible.

The University would be established as a temporary facility during a situation in which the hospital may need to be fully evacuated. St. Luke’s would first work with other area hospitals to relocate critically ill patients, but depending on the situation, the hospital would relocate other patients to DeSales.

“DeSales University is to be commended for accepting this responsibility. The university was very responsive from the moment we approached them,” Fagerstrom said. “Having strong ties through our clinical partnerships with DeSales’ nursing and physician assistant programs enabled us to work quickly together through what otherwise may be a cumbersome process.”

According to Fagerstrom, the process took six to eight months to complete. The MOU is a five-year, automatically-renewing agreement with review at DeSales slated for every three years.

Both DeSales and St. Luke’s are involved and have been trained in the National Incident Management System (NIMS), a federal emergency management framework that outlines community planning and emergency preparedness. When the two organizations began the discussions for the agreement, both were “speaking the same language” and both organizations understood their respective responsibility within the community, Fagerstrom said.

More About DeSales University

DeSales University, in Center Valley, PA., is a private, coeducational, four-year liberal arts university affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Founded by the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales in 1965, the 450-acre suburban campus is located 50 miles north of Philadelphia and about 90 miles south of New York City. A total enrollment of nearly 3,000 includes undergraduate day and evening students and graduate students. DeSales has approximately full-time faculty members and offers 37 bachelor’s degrees and six graduate programs in a wide range of disciplines. The university also offers the ACCESS Program, the region’s leading accelerated degree program for adults.

St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network is a nationally recognized, regional, integrated network of non-profit hospitals, physicians and other health-related organizations providing care primarily in Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania. The network includes four hospitals encompassing 734 licensed beds, more than 44,800 annual admissions, 1,224 physicians, 6,825 employees and 1,248 volunteers.