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Local Start-up’s Technology Purifies Air at St. Luke’s Allentown
July 20, 2020

A passion for pure air links St. Luke’s with local entrepreneur Kathryn Worrilow, PhD, in a win-win partnership that benefits patients, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. It began in 2017 when Dr. Worrilow’s company, LifeAire, designed and installed an experimental air purification system serving 14 patient rooms on the fifth floor of St. Luke’s Allentown. This advanced technology sterilizes the air flowing through the HVAC system, removing or neutralizing all pathogens – including the COVID-19 coronavirus – that might otherwise infect patients recovering on the unit from illness or surgery.

Dr. Worrilow and LifeAire, the Allentown company she founded and runs, developed the air purification technology originally for the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) process, then innovatively adapted it for use in the air handling units in hospitals like St. Luke’s. Pathogen-free air is essential for creating and sustaining life, making it ideal for IVF as well as for protecting patients while they heal.

Earlier this year as COVID-19 spread, LifeAire added a second system on the fifth floor to purify air inflow to the remaining 16 rooms of the unit. This fortunate and timely addition to the hospital came at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, introducing a technology that has the power to destroy the novel coronavirus that has claimed approximately 140,000 American lives so far this year.

The measurable clinical benefits of the air purification system installed in 2017 are impressive: patient lengths of stay dropped nearly 40%, making hospitalizations 23% less costly, according to an internal review of preliminary data.

The newest LifeAire unit couldn’t have come to St. Luke’s Allentown at a more critical time, as the American healthcare system seeks weapons to vanquish the coronavirus that continues to threaten the lives of persons both inside and outside of hospitals. LifeAire’s ability to purify the air at St. Luke’s Allentown confirms its estimable value alongside the healthcare heroes that fight the COVID-19 plague day after day.

“St. Luke’s Allentown is thankful to have industry partners like LifeAire to aid in advancing the already safe and great care we provide to our patients,” said Bill Moyer, president of St. Luke’s Allentown.

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 with 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. In 2020, three of IBM Watson Health's 100 Top Hospitals were 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.