Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Winter 2019 - 18

Changes in Health Care in Berks County
continued from page 17

Penn State Health St. Joseph
Now that St. Joseph's Health network has become a part of
the Penn State Health System, how will this improve health care
to the people of Berks County? By becoming a part of a larger
health system, a concern for some who worry about the loss of
autonomy is whether St. Joseph's is still able to focus on local
needs and service.
When Penn State Health and St. Joseph Regional Health
Network came together in 2015 to form Penn State Health St.
Joseph, we did so with a common purpose-to expand access to
doctors in the Berks region and bring the health care people in Berks
need closer to home. In the past three years, we've opened four new
physician practices in neighborhoods across Berks County with new
locations in Exeter, Muhlenberg, Robesonia and our Spring Ridge
Corridor in Wyomissing. More Penn State Health physicians now
live and practice locally in our community, including specialists
in cardiology, orthopedics, obstetrics, uro-gynecology, weight loss
surgery, neurosurgery and cancer care.
The Penn State College of Medicine at Hershey is a key part
of the Health System. Will the medical school have any role here
in training new staff or meeting the continuing education needs
of physicians?
We are proud of our family practice residency program and the
number of physicians it is producing who are choosing to make
Berks County their home after completing their training. Many of
our graduating family practice residents from this past year's class
have joined the St. Joseph medical group. Dr. Shrina Patel has
joined the SJMG Hospitalists, Dr. Jillian Ventuzelo is practicing at
the Spring Ridge facility, and Drs. Hubert Wu and Earle Williamson
have joined the Exeter practice. We also welcomed back Dr.
Zachary McLaughlin, a 2015 graduate, to our Spring Ridge facility.
This past year brought good news that the residency program
achieved accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Graduate
Medical Education. We collaborated with the Penn State College of
Medicine to earn this reaccreditation. Just in the past year, we also
welcomed Penn State College of Medicine medical interns who are
rotating through our Downtown Reading campus and participating
in providing care in our community as they learn about the unique
nature of practicing medicine in an urban setting.
Over the last 10-15 years there are fewer and fewer
independent physicians as first primary care physicians joined
health systems and now more of our specialty colleagues. Is
this a good move for health care and especially patients in Berks
County? Why?
St. Joseph continues to show its resiliency to adapt to an
industry that is being disrupted in many ways. The challenges on all
fronts-political, payment, emerging technologies, new competition
and new forms of competition shaped by non-traditional health
providers, shifting consumer behavior, regulatory processes and the
timeless need to achieve high patient satisfaction-are changing

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www.berkscms.org

the face of healthcare. Physician employment is another reaction
to this disruption and it is real and increasingly prevalent. Systemwide integration of employed physicians helps in managing large
population groups, and better positions us for value-based or
bundled payments. As we work to achieve increasingly higher
quality goals we have more and better information technology tools
to support the work of physicians in enhancing continuity of care
and quality outcomes.
With the increase in resources available as a result of
health system growth, and the shift in payment model to one
emphasizing population outcomes, what initiatives are under
way or being planned to address the social determinants of
health affecting the residents of Berks County during patient
encounters with providers and in the systems' interface with the
outside community?
Penn State Health just completed its Community Health Needs
Assessment and the deficits the study established are outcomes
associated with the social determinants of health - Economic
Stability, Education, Social and Community Context, Health and
Health Care and Neighborhood and Built Environment.
By the very nature of these issues, a comprehensive and sustained
community response to addressing these issues is needed. St.
Joseph is focused initially on the areas where we can have the most
impact. This includes our emerging partnership with Penn State
Berks on the Downtown Reading campus. The campus has a
growing patient base that receives primary care services as well as
wound care, diabetes support and dental services. It's a vital link in
our connection to the Reading community and a key focus of our
population health efforts which include, for example, the creation
of the Veggie Rx program. That program, combined with a farmers
market now offered on the campus at 6th and Walnut, is helping
residents to make better food choices as well as to have the financial
capacity to acquire those foods. As a hospital whose services are
guided by the core values of reverence, integrity, compassion and
excellence we believe that every person is a treasure, every life a
sacred gift, every human being a unity of body, mind and spirit
so dedicating our efforts to addressing the social determinants of
health is critical to affirming our Catholic identity, which we have
maintained during our transition to Penn State Health.
Mental health care has been recognized as one of the areas
needing the greatest attention in the Community Health Needs
Assessment studies by both local health systems. Insufficient
numbers of behavioral health professionals and lack of their
integration into primary care practices are among the problems
identified in this area. How will your health system work
to improve access to mental health care, especially for the
underserved inner city population of Reading?
We have been working every day to care for the Berks County
population who have mental health conditions. We partner with


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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Winter 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Winter 2019

Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Winter 2019 - 1
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