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Generous Donation from Allentown Family Provides Lifesaving Technology
August 24, 2021

Having grown up in families where “giving back” was fundamental, both Mark and Debbie Lieberman have been long-time supporters of St. Luke’s, especially the Sacred Heart Campus, where Debbie’s father, William Straccia, Jr., was a devoted and respected board member for more than 25 years.

Following the sale of their family business, Mark and Debbie formed the MD Lieberman Foundation in 2011 as a vehicle to support institutions that have positively impacted their family, especially St. Luke’s.

“St. Luke’s raised our family,” explains Mark. A Lehigh University wrestling standout and Hall of Famer, Mark received quality care from St. Luke’s during his college career.  “I received great care from St. Luke’s when I was at Lehigh and we continue to receive that same great care for health prevention, everyday ailments and unexpected health emergencies.”

Because St. Luke’s has impacted their family for decades, the Liebermans wanted to make a contribution that will benefit other patients in a meaningful way. Through their daughter, Maria Lieberman Smalley, PA-C and Neuroscience Education Coordinator at St. Luke’s, they learned that a Thermoelastography Diagnostic System (TDS) was high on the wish list of the neurology department, so the Foundation made a generous contribution for its purchase.

TDS provides high-end blood analysis which helps in assessing neurological injuries, such as strokes and hemorrhages, providing guidance for surgical intervention in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit (ICU). “When an individual is suffering a stroke, time is of the essence,” says Jonathan P. Hosey, MD, Network Chair, Neurology at St. Luke’s. Prompt treatment can reduce brain damage and other complications. “This enhanced diagnostic capability, conducted bedside in real time, is critical for determining how to best care for a patient.” Prior to the addition of this new technology, clinical staff relied on standard high-quality testing, but TDS provides a much greater level of precision, enhancing treatment and overall outcomes.

“The donation from the MD Lieberman Foundation helped establish our plan to utilize thermoelastography diagnostics in the management of medical and surgical neurologic patients,” says  Jennifer R. Axelband, DO, Associate Medical Director, Medical Critical Care Education, at St. Luke's University Hospital - Bethlehem Campus.  “Their support allowed St. Luke’s to create a collaborative process with our trauma colleagues to have devices at both level I and II trauma centers, as well as at multiple critical patient care areas within the Bethlehem campus.”  

For Maria, who is a trustee on the Foundation’s board along with her parents and siblings, this contribution is especially significant. “Philanthropy has always been part of the essence of our family,” she says.  “The Foundation has given us a more tangible way to do that, and I am fortunate to be a part of it and continue my parents’ vision.”  Adds Debbie, “It is gratifying and exciting to feel like you are making a real difference, and it’s wonderful knowing our daughter is part of this.”

According to Dr. Hosey, the Thermoelastography Diagnostic System, recently installed in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit at St. Luke’s University Hospital – Bethlehem, is transformative technology. “This is really the first time we are able to analyze the blood-clotting system at the bedside. It is the most transformational technology during my 37-year career, and it will directly save lives.”

The Liebermans will quietly continue to support organizations that played a role in shaping their family because, as Mark says, “We are fortunate to be able to do so and hopefully we are inspiring others to do the same.”

To learn how you, too, can support St. Luke’s ongoing effort to bring the most advanced care to our region, visit: www.slhn.org/development.