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First Level IV Medical Detoxification Unit in the Region
October 27, 2020

St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus in Allentown is pleased to announce it will open the Lehigh Valley’s first Level IV medical detoxification unit early next year, providing 24-hour medical supervision to people withdrawing from alcohol or other drugs.

“With the addition of this highly specialized medical detoxification unit, St. Luke’s Sacred Heart will rank among Pennsylvania’s leading behavioral health service providers,” said St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus President Frank Ford.

Ford noted that inspiration for the unit sprang from conversations with downtown residents, stakeholders and leaders. “We asked our neighbors how St. Luke’s Sacred Heart could help the community – and we listened,” he said. “Medical detoxification is an incredibly important service that is in keeping with St. Luke’s Sacred Heart’s longstanding Catholic tradition of caring for the less fortunate.”

Detoxification in a specialized acute care setting is considered the first step in achieving success in recovering from substance abuse disorders. Patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart conditions can have serious or potentially life-threatening side effects from withdrawal such as hallucinations, high fevers, dangerously high blood pressure or even seizures. The 16-bed, inpatient unit will have physicians, advanced practitioners, registered nurses, patient care assistants and dietitians on duty to treat medical issues or co-existing disorders that could be exacerbated during withdrawal.

“Within the Lehigh Valley and eastern Pennsylvania, many people were driving two or even three hours or longer to find a true detox facility that could manage chronic illnesses while helping them manage their withdrawal symptoms,” said Christina Zelko-Bennick, St. Luke’s Vice President of Patient Care Services at Sacred Heart and Network Inpatient Behavioral Health. Others, lacking the means to travel, didn’t get proper care at all.

“Now St. Luke’s Sacred Heart will be able to provide the highest level of medical detoxification services in the region, allowing a patient to detox and become medically stable before transitioning on to the next appropriate level of care for recovery,” she said.

In addition, the unit will be staffed by substance use disorder experts to oversee the withdrawal process, begin personalized counseling and plan follow-up care that may include residential or outpatient treatment facilities.

The detox unit, featuring 16 private rooms in a calming setting, is for adults age 18 and older. Typically, patients will be referred to the unit through assessments by drug and alcohol crisis staff through emergency rooms.

Currently, St. Luke’s is hiring for all clinical staff positions in the new medical detoxification unit when it opens in March 2021. Applications may be submitted through https://www.slhn.org/careers.