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St. Joseph officially welcomed into Penn State Health

St. Joseph Regional Health Network is now Penn State Health St. Joseph. Signage bearing the new name was unveiled at a celebration Tuesday on the Bern Campus. The event included the unveiling of a Penn State icon: a Nittany Lion statue that is now a fixture on the St. Joseph campus. A second one will be installed on St. Joseph’s Downtown Reading campus later this year.

“As a member of Penn State Health we embolden St. Joseph’s spirit of innovation while honoring the legacy of care we have so compassionately nurtured over 143 years,” said John R. Morahan, president and CEO of Penn State Health St. Joseph. “We also gain the scale, resources, clinical investment and regional commitment that will be critical to continuing our proactive response to the convergence of legislation, technology, regulation and consumerism that is changing healthcare.”

Pride rippled through our campus today as we celebrate our partnership with Penn State Health by unveiling the Nittany Lion statue and new building sign!
Pride rippled through our campus today as we celebrate our partnership with Penn State Health
by unveiling the Nittany Lion statue and new building sign!

Tuesday’s celebration marked the evolution of a partnership that began five years ago when the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and St. Joseph Medical Center first began collaborating to provide specialty care for the residents of Berks County.

“On behalf of Penn State Health, and the 10,000 faculty and staff at Penn State Hershey, we look forward to working with you to honor the history and legacy of St. Joseph, and to delivering compassionate, quality care to the residents of Berks County,” said Dr. A. Craig Hillemeier, dean of Penn State College of Medicine, CEO of Penn State Health, and Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs.

Medical staff president Dr. Leif Christiansen said that as healthcare changes, one thing is for certain “is that the physician-hospital bond will be even more relevant, more critical and more aligned in the future as we focus our collective efforts in continuing to achieve quality patient outcomes.”

He said St. Joseph has looked to physicians to champion clinical initiatives, to lead the way in providing care that reduces errors, reduces infections, reduces mortality and reduces costs, noting “our unique set of skills and insight paired with that of nurses and other clinicians improves care delivery leading to improved patient outcomes.

He said he looked to Penn State Health/St. Joseph continuing to recognize physicians as a source of insight and innovation and to ensuring care remains centered on the patient.

Peter Banko, Senior Vice President of Catholic Health Initiatives, said that CHI took “great pride in St. Joseph’s history of faithful service to the people of Reading and Berks County, especially to the poor and marginalized.” He noted that CHI was attuned to the ‘signs of the times’ which have signaled dramatic change in healthcare. He said CHI must always ask the question: “what’s best for the people and communities we serve (in light of these signs)?”

“In today’s health care environment, hospitals within geographic proximity are consolidating into regional systems, just like St. Joseph and Penn State Health,” he explained. He said that among the many reasons this partnership makes great sense are “compatible missions, committed leaders and caregivers, a shared vision to make the best care available to the people of the region.”

Banko concluded by saying that “while ‘letting go’ is bittersweet for CHI, we are confident that Penn State Health St. Joseph – and the residents of Reading and the Berks County region – are in good hands and have a bright future ahead.”

Penn State Health St. Joseph Board Chair Andrew Weidman recalled the planning retreat five years ago, ironically held at the Penn State Berks campus, in which St. Joseph’s future was discussed and planned. He said that as the St. Joseph board considered its future and began to focus on developing a partnership with Penn State “the health and welfare of the citizens of this area always remained first and foremost on our list. This union allows us to provide access to a wider variety of specialties right here on this campus in a high-quality, low cost environment.”

Weidman, a partner in RKL, a certified public accounting and consulting firm, who has worked on mergers for more than 30 years, said that signing the deal was just the beginning.

“There will be plenty of hard work in our future,” he said. “(But) I know we have a unique opportunity to build something special here.”

He added that the proximity of the Penn State Berks campus to the Bern campus–about a mile apart–would also facilitate collaboration.

Dr. R. Keith Hillkirk, Chancellor of Penn State Berks, echoed Weidman’s comments.

“We anticipate many promising opportunities for Penn State Health St. Joseph and Penn State Berks to work together in complementing and supporting our respective missions, as well as creating synergies that can enable us to better serve the citizens of the Greater Reading and Berks communities,” Dr. Hillkirk said, noting several areas of potential collaboration, including research and student internships.


Following the remarks, Morahan invited attendees to gather around the covered statue. As it was unveiled, Perry Focht, director of nutrition and environmental services at St. Joseph and a Penn State alum, led the crowd in the “We are…Penn State!” cheer. Also, a banner was pulled away to reveal the new Penn State Health St. Joseph sign on the Bern Township facility.

After the event, the Nittany Lion toured the hospital, where he was welcomed by staff and patients who posed for photos with the mascot.



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