Heart of Lititz

By on July 30, 2014

Local hospital celebrates 10 years

LR20140731_CHeart1Quality care comes from the heart.

So it makes sense that the Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center in Lititz is dedicated to delivering just that.

“The interactions we have with patients can be more personal, more heartfelt,” said Joe Buchert, a former nurse and current risk coordinator for the hospital who has been a part of the organization since day one.

Though he noted that the hospital’s size may make some nervous when compared to other hospitals in the area, he said he believes that after 10 years and a lot of challenges, the hospital has become a fixture in the local community.

This Friday marks a special occasion for both the hospital and Lititz, as Heart of Lancaster will celebrate its 10th anniversary since opening in 2004. In honor of the big day, the hospital will open its campus from 4 to 8 p.m. with free health screenings, toy check-ups and inflatables for the kids and food for purchase. There will also be a raffle benefiting the Warwick Community Chest.

The evening provides locals with the chance to yet again interact with the hospital known for personal care and continued service to a community, while also learning about the many services Heart of Lancaster has to offer, Administrator Deborah Willwerth said.

“I can remember when there were only 12 patients that first day,” she said. “We were originally not seeing the number of patients we see today. The first full year [in 2005], we did around 200 deliveries. We’re now doing close to over 1,000 this year.”

Among the hospital’s many notable achievements, its obstetrics department received its Level III designation in February 2013, which makes Heart of Lancaster the only full service hospital in the county to care for premature babies under 32 weeks.

This level of care is exactly what allowed JoAnna Hess to deliver her premature second daughter just five minutes from home, and continue to visit her there long after the delivery.

The now 35-year-old mother had an unexpected and early second delivery, leaving her daughter Morgan in the care of nurses and hospital staff who Hess said she connected with overnight. From old high school friends to familiar faces in the community, the hospital staff became “like family,” Hess said, allowing her to visit at odd hours and make raising a family separated by health complications and job commitments easier than expected.

“By the time that we left there, it was bittersweet,” Hess said. “The day we left the NICU, we were so happy to have her home but I almost wanted to cry at the same time because we weren’t going to see the nurses anymore.”

“I saw them more than I saw my own family. When things were hard, they gave the support.”

Today, Hess said she still sees the staff who helped her through it out and about in the community. Sometimes, it’s in the grocery store. Other times, it’s while pumping gas. No matter the situation, hugs are always exchanged and stories shared about Hess’s growing daughters. Both Morgan and Hess’s first daughter, Danika, are like second children to those who cared for them.

And many employees stay at the hospital for these strong relationships.

“It’s about being there for the patient,” Buchert said. “Because it’s a small facility, we get familiar with the patients. You can definitely make more of a personal connection.”

These personal connections have kept Heart of Lancaster close to the hearts of those in the community despite a corporate change of hands, as well as a federal investigation following allegations regarding financial kickbacks earlier this year.

Despite the negative press Willwerth described, she believes the hospital’s number one focus continues to be the patients &tstr; and the community honors that. She said many good things have come from the corporate change of hands, like new capital and faster technological advances, and the values remain the same.

“It’s a choice where [patients] can go and they receive quality care,” Willwerth said. “They’re not a number.”

For more information on the celebration this Friday, as well as other services offered by Heart of Lancaster, go to heartoflancaster.com.

Brittany Horn is a freelance feature reporter for the Record Express. She is also a recent graduate of Penn State and was the editor of the Daily Collegian. She welcomes your comments at brittanyhorn08@gmail.com.

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