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Jefferson Health, Lehigh Valley Health Network to become 30-hospital system in $14 billion merger

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | December 27, 2023
Business Affairs
Jefferson Health and Lehigh Valley Health Network are merging into a 30-hospital system.
Jefferson Health and Lehigh Valley Health Network are joining together to create a 30-hospital system valued at $14 billion, that will also include more than 700 sites of care, a national research university, and an expanded not-for-profit health plan.

The combined system will have over 62,000 employed faculty, clinicians, and staff to offer hospital, ambulatory, and post-acute services and primary care to patients in urban and rural areas of Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, including Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA-insured patients.

Additionally, it will have a quality-focused care delivery model to better manage population health and reduce care costs as well as sustainable cash flow and greater financial stability to invest in R&D and new treatments.

“The expertise derived from these operations is becoming a crucial competency for health systems to deliver on their mission, and Jefferson Health Plans will help drive improvements in health outcomes, especially in vulnerable populations,” said Brian Nester, president and chief executive officer of Lehigh Valley Health Network, in a statement.

Nester will be executive vice president, chief operating officer, and president of the legacy Lehigh Valley Health Network, and report directly to Joseph Cacchione, who will continue on as chief executive officer of the Jefferson Enterprise. Dr. Baligh Yehia will be executive vice president, chief transformation officer, and president of the legacy Jefferson Health. The newly integrated board of trustees and leadership team will include members from both systems.

The new enterprise will have clinical service lines to support primary care, including for patients who have previously faced challenges with accessing specialty care such as oncology, neurology, orthopedics, cardiovascular, and solid organ transplant.

The new clinical service lines will also expand academic programs and clinical research, and the health plan will provide patients with more choices within the LVHN service area, especially among vulnerable and at-risk populations covered by Medicare and Medicaid. There will also be more academic opportunities for health professionals to acquire additional degrees and pathways for new graduates into high-demand positions.

LVHN is a five-time Magnet-designated system with 13 hospital campuses, The Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, 29 health centers; more than 300 primary and specialty care physician practices; and 20 ExpressCARE locations, including the area's only Children's ExpressCARE. Jefferson Health has 18 hospitals and physician practices, including at the private Thomas Jefferson University.

Both Jefferson and LVHN will continue to operate as separate, independent entities until the merger’s completion, which is expected in 2024.

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