More than 200 individuals and 18 organizations joined together to celebrate St. Luke’s Allentown and their commitment to the community during the 2021 Dinner by Starlight on Nov. 4. The virtual fundraising event raised a record-setting $150,000 in support of renovations to the St. Luke’s Allentown Campus Emergency Department. The recording of the event is available for those who missed the broadcast and can be viewed by clicking the following link: https://www.slhn.org/dinnerbystarlight.
The event, now in its 20th year, and hosted by Marketing Director Lauren Sokolski, recognized Allentown Campus frontline healthcare workers as its 2021 Honorary Star. Bill Moyer, Allentown Campus President, said their commitment made them the clear choice to receive the evening’s top recognition.
“We have a group of outstanding individuals who have come together during unprecedented times. And despite every hurdle and curveballs thrown their way, they continue to provide exceptional care for our patients,” Moyer said. “Our team has made a critical difference during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are pleased to recognize them as this year's honorary stars. I want to thank our physicians, our nurses, and our entire staff who are truly ‘All in for Allentown.’ It's such a privilege to work alongside them each day.”
During the Dinner by Starlight broadcast, nurses, housekeeping and other staff at St. Luke’s Allentown talked about the support they have received during the pandemic and expressed appreciation for the acknowledgement. ICU nurse Malenia Randolph summed up the feelings of many, saying, “I wanted to be a nurse, but I never thought I would be going through something like this (pandemic). It feels good to be acknowledged and I think this pandemic really opened everyone's eyes to how important every single job is in the hospital.”
Kyle Schwartz, an Emergency Department nurse, said, “It actually was really impressive to see the whole community stand behind us when this all started.”
Tony DaRe, CEO of BSI Corporate Benefits and Premier Sponsor of Dinner by Starlight, joined Moyer in praising his team. “The last two years of this pandemic have changed all of our lives but not for them,” DaRe stated. He noted that, while others worked from home, our frontline healthcare workers went to work every day to care for members of the community. “They fought tirelessly to keep everybody safe and healthy during that time,” DaRe said, adding that Dinner by Starlight also provides BSI Corporate Benefits with a chance to offer meaningful support. “It's been our commitment from the beginning to continue providing support where it's needed most in the community. That, for us, is in Allentown within the St. Luke's Network.”
Cheryl Bartholomew, President and CEO of Cosmic Sponsor Gold Credit Union, echoed his sentiments. “We’re honored to sponsor St. Luke’s Dinner by Starlight as they, too, share our heart in strengthening the community with their focus on health and well-being in downtown Allentown,” Bartholomew said.
Dinner by Starlight also honored two individuals as Shining Stars for contributing their time, talent and resources during this challenging time. Wendy Robb, Allentown Campus Board Member and Dean of the Cedar Crest College School of Nursing, and Sam Miranda, a retired nurse and Center Valley resident, received this year’s distinction. Both Robb and Miranda contributed many hours administering the COVID-19 vaccine, gathering and donating protective gear, and volunteering to assist with administrative tasks that freed nurse managers so they could focus on providing caring for increasing patient volumes.
In her interview during the program, Robb explained that she had been trained as a critical care nurse but realized she could not return to that specialty during the pandemic. “Bon Jovi has a great song called Do What You Can,” Robb said. “If you can't do what you do, do what you can. And so I thought, what can I do?” The solution was to ensure that trained individuals were graduating from her nursing program to meet the unprecedented need for nurses during the pandemic. Robb also volunteered with her nursing students to administer the COVID vaccine by placing a clinic at the Mayfair Festival of the Arts.
Miranda said he came out of retirement intending to volunteer for a few short months. Eighteen months later, he is still working. “In all my years of nursing, it was one of the most humbling experiences, and it's for that reason -- for the love of the patients, for the love and tenderness of the staff that work with me -- that I’m still here,” Miranda explained.
Dinner by Starlight attendees learned more about how funds raised through the event would help to support the expansion of the St. Luke’s Allentown Campus Emergency Department. Ashley Russo of ASR Media Productions interviewed Dr. Chris Stromski, Medical Director for the Emergency Department, and Ryan Kloss, Patient Care Manager of the Emergency Department. Russo noted that the Allentown Campus has the busiest Emergency Department in the St. Luke’s Network, serving an incredible 60,000 patients a year – an average of 200 per day.
Planned renovations will improve the waiting room experience and increase the number of treatment rooms, reducing hallway overflow and allowing families to comfortably stay with family members. Planned improvements include expanding the current 35 treatment rooms to 55. Of special significance, each new room will be HEPA filtered for quality air flow – a feature highly valued during the pandemic. The Allentown Campus Emergency Department will be the first in Pennsylvania to implement this feature. In addition, the Emergency Department will also have a “results waiting area” where stable patients can wait for test results, which will open more treatment rooms and drastically reduce wait times for others anticipating care.
“Right now we are functioning at a very high level and are very efficient,” Stromski said. “This new expansion, given that we are increasing our patient volumes, is going to help us to improve that tremendously.”
Kloss said, “When you come to the emergency department, you want to see a doctor and be treated by the nursing staff as soon as possible. By adding these additional treatment spaces, we're hoping to expedite that process, and have patients evaluated and treated in a timely fashion.”
The recorded presentation will be available through the end of December 2021 at https://www.slhn.org/dinnerbystarlight. Donations to the St. Luke’s Allentown Campus Emergency Department are being accepted through the link above. For questions about the event or trouble viewing, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We offer special thanks to our event sponsors: Premier Sponsor - BSI Corporate Benefits, Cosmic Sponsor - GOLD Credit Union and Presenting Sponsors - Lexus of Lehigh Valley and Northeastern Anesthesia Physicians, P.C. as well as the many other individuals and organizations who supported this year’s Annual Dinner By Starlight.