News

Allentown First Responders to be Honored at Dinner by Starlight
October 15, 2020

COVID-19 has tested all of us, but none more than those working on the front lines. First responders in our community bravely fought back against the pandemic, enduring great stress and uncertainty for the good of their neighbors. Allentown EMS, and the Fire and Police Departments remained united with our St. Luke’s family from the very beginning, and they thread compassion and hope throughout the entire Allentown community.

It is an honor to be able to celebrate them at the annual St. Luke’s Allentown Campus Dinner by Starlight event, taking place virtually on November 5, 2020 at 7:00 pm. Admission to the event is complimentary this year, and sponsorship opportunities are also available. Registration is required and can be completed here.

Dinner by Starlight is an annual fundraiser that provides a special opportunity to recognize Allentown community members who make a difference through their gifts of time, talent, and treasure. This year, it was nearly impossible to choose a single deserving individual, during a time when so many community members played a critical role in caring for others. The event’s Honorary Star is not one person, but rather the entire Allentown community—every family, small business, caregiver, and first responder. It took the entire city coming together to keep infection rates under control.

But in addition to the Honorary Star, the event celebrates Shining Stars whose work makes an especially significant impact on the community. When all three first response department Chiefs were notified about receiving this honor—Allentown EMS, Fire and Police—their feedback was unsurprisingly humble. “I went into this profession because I wanted to do my part to serve the community. I never considered myself a hero and I know my team members feel the same way,” expressed James Wehr, Allentown Fire Chief.

Glenn Granitz Jr., M.S., CJA, Allentown Police Chief agreed, “we are grateful to the community for the incredible outpouring of support we've been shown and for how Allentown residents have done their part to mask and social distance to help keep us safe.”

At the onset of the pandemic, the Allentown community stepped up to show support in incredible ways. In many neighborhoods, residents hung signs of support, encouraged their family and friends to stay home to keep our first responders and healthcare workers safe, wrote letters of thanks and appreciation, and so much more.

"The pandemic has placed an unprecedented amount of stress on all healthcare providers and first responders," says Eric Gratz, MPPM, NRP, Chief of Operations for the Allentown Bureau of EMS. "Early on, we realized that support and collaboration were the keys to resiliency. With the support of our health network partners and our community, we were able to overcome the anxiety and uncertainty associated with COVID-19 and continue providing exemplary care. Our paramedics worked in increased PPE and maintained a positive attitude with an unwavering focus on our mission. The selflessness and teamwork exhibited is a testament to the character of these men and women. The honor of being recognized as a St. Luke's Shining Star showcases the quiet dedication of our paramedics and the impact they have on the Allentown community.”

Similarly, the Allentown Police Department remained focused on keeping families safe. For many, when the pandemic entered our region, it felt as though everything else came to a halt. But first response teams continued to do their part to respond to calls quickly. “We leave our homes each day and each night to respond to calls, knowing that the virus could be brought back home with us. But we do it because we care about the families that we keep safe,” said Chief Granitz. “This pandemic has been a unique circumstance unlike any other we've faced in recent history, and I am so proud of how the men and women on our team have stepped up bravely and without hesitation to fulfill their duties. It has been an honor to get to do this work and serve the Allentown community throughout the pandemic.”

Honoring these dedicated teams also reminds us that they, too, have families at home to keep safe. They are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and friends, and though the risk of contracting the virus was always in mind, they maintained a calm and reassuring demeanor to put others at ease.

“At the start of the pandemic, there was an enormous amount of uncertainty. But our team pushed through it all to remain committed to our mission – to serve and protect our community members,” shared Chief Wehr. “Our firefighters dealt with the stress of limited PPE, abrupt change in process and safety procedures, and so much more with an overwhelmingly positive attitude. Everyone just wanted to stay safe and keep their team members, family members, and community members healthy. So, to be recognized by St. Luke's is a true honor, and we are incredibly grateful for the support."

At St. Luke’s, our mission is, and always will be, to improve the overall health of the communities we serve. Allentown first responders share that mission, and through their partnership we are a stronger community.

“While many first responders will answer a note of thanks with ‘I’m just doing my job,’ I think this year is finally the time for us to say, 'you’re welcome’,” expressed Chief Gratz.

The Dinner by Starlight live stream is brought to you by ASR Media Productions and host, Eve Tannery, anchor for WMFZ Channel 69 News. During the presentation on November 5, you will hear more from our honorees and there will be a special opportunity for you to text and make a gift to support the Allentown Campus Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Throughout the pandemic, the Allentown NICU team continued to provide the highest level of intensive care to our youngest patients—and worked tirelessly to keep them safe, and to keep their families involved and informed. "When a baby requires NICU care, it can be a terrifying experience for the parents—especially in the midst of all the uncertainty we've faced this year," shares Keri Weintraub, MSN, RN, Vice President of Patient Care at St. Luke’s Allentown Campus. "These past few months have proven the importance of having a strong and supportive care team directly in our community to rely on during life's most challenging moments. Our mission at the Allentown Campus NICU is to provide expert care for babies, while making sure their loved ones feel comforted and well-informed. The funds raised during this important event will help us expand critical NICU services and resources, so that we can continue to carry out that mission no matter what challenges may arise in the future."

A special thank you to our Premier Sponsor, BSI Corporate Benefits, Inc., as well as LEXUS of Lehigh Valley, GOLD Credit Union, and many other generous contributors. They are all deeply committed to the St. Luke’s Allentown Campus, surrounding community, and overall success of this important event. Together, we are “all in for Allentown.”

For questions, please email Lori Coursen at Lori.Coursen@sluhn.org.


Media Contact:

Sam Kennedy, Corporate Communications Director, 484-526-4134, samuel.kennedy@sluhn.org


About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of more than 16,000 employees providing services at 12 hospitals and 300+ outpatient sites. With annual net revenue greater than $2 billion, the Network’s service area includes 11 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania. In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the Lehigh Valley’s first and only regional medical school campus. It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 38 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with 347 residents and fellows. St. Luke’s is the only Lehigh Valley-based health care system to earn Medicare’s five- and four-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. St. Luke’s is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital. U.S. News & World Report ranked St. Luke’s #1 in the Lehigh Valley and #6 in the state. Two of IBM Watson Health’s 100 Top Hospitals are St. Luke’s hospitals. St. Luke’s University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from IBM Watson Health eight times total and six years in a row. St. Luke’s has also been cited by IBM Watson Health as a 50 Top Cardiovascular Program. Utilizing the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.