Allentown News

Published on March 1st, 2018

SLUHN-Sacred Heart Merger Frequently Asked Questions

With final approval of federal and state regulatory bodies received on February 1st, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) and Sacred Heart HealthCare System have officially completed their merger announced in September.

Who is St. Luke’s University Health Network?

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of 14,000 employees providing services at nine hospitals and 315 outpatient sites. With annual net revenues of $1.9 billion, the network’s service area includes 10 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey.

Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is a major teaching hospital – the only one in the Greater Lehigh Valley. In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the region’s first and only regional medical school campus. It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 23 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with 190 residents.

St. Luke’s is the only health care network in central-eastern Pennsylvania to earn Medicare’s five-star rating (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. Repeatedly, including 2017, St. Luke’s earned Truven’s 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital and 50 Top Cardiovascular Program designations, in addition to other honors for clinical excellence. St. Luke’s, utilizing the EPIC electronic medical record (EMR) system, is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of St. Luke’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.

Who is Sacred Heart HealthCare System?

Sacred Heart HealthCare System offers a wide range of medical and surgical specialties and a network of physician practices. The system includes Sacred Heart Hospital, founded in 1912 in Center City Allentown. Sacred Heart’s residency program, affiliated with Temple University, has been educating family physicians for over 45 years. Sacred Heart achieved an A rating from the Leapfrog Patient safety scores and is a Center of Excellence in Bariatric Surgery. Its Transitional Care Facility, a 22-bed skilled nursing unit, has a Five-Star rating from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. The Joint Commission recognized Sacred Heart as a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures, designating it as a Primary Stroke Center. It also is a recipient of the American Stroke Association’s Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. One of Allentown’s biggest employers, Sacred Heart HealthCare System has 1,070 employees.

What will the name of Sacred Heart Hospital be after March 1, 2018?

The hospital will be known as St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus.

What about Sacred Heart’s Catholic identity?

St. Luke’s is committed to maintaining Sacred Heart’s Catholic identity and stated mission to provide health care and wellness, from conception to natural death, through quality services and programs based on the Catholic ethical and religious directives. Additionally, St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus will maintain charity care policies similar to other St. Luke’s hospitals.

Will there be a reduction in workforce as a result of the merger?

As the Sacred Heart HealthCare System transitions into the St. Luke’s Network, there will be numerous opportunities to expand existing services in Allentown. In addition, there may be a need to consolidate various support services. This may involve changes in positions and titles and the relocation of selected employees to other Network sites to ensure optimal staffing. In addition, selected job responsibilities may be redefined as the Sacred Heart organization is right-sized. This may require the option for some employees to be transferred to other locations. Rest assured the St. Luke’s and Sacred Heart merger teams will work diligently to place employees in appropriate positions. Currently, there are approximately 1,000 vacancies Network-wide, for which all SLUHN Network employees are eligible to apply. In any event, there are no plans for a workforce reduction, and St. Luke’s does not have a history of workforce reductions.

Will there be any change to my job, title or manager as a result of this merger?

Although various jobs, titles or reporting relationships will most certainly change over time, the St. Luke’s and Sacred Heart merger teams are working diligently to minimize disruptions and to facilitate the integration of the two organizations so that TOGETHER we continue to improve the ability to deliver cost effective health care to the citizens of Allentown and the surrounding community.

St. Luke’s has demonstrated for over 20 years the ability to partner successfully with many organizations across its service area. Each of the previously independent hospitals in Quakertown (1995), Allentown (1997), Miners (2000), Warren (2012), Lehighton (2018) and Palmerton (2018) was once struggling. Each faced a perilous financial situation, which put its community’s access to health care in jeopardy. St. Luke’s over the years successfully invested capital, expertise and other resources to update facilities, technology and enhance salaries and benefits at those hospitals. St. Luke’s plans to do the same at Sacred Heart. The hospitals that joined St. Luke’s in past years have experienced continuous growth, added services and introduced additional physician specialists – and all are thriving.

What will happen to my benefits, vacation, health care and pay?

During the initial months following the merger, Sacred Heart employees will remain under their current benefits and compensation structure. It will be a number of months before a full evaluation of compensation is completed. However, a preliminary review indicates compensation in most instances will be enhanced. Information concerning the timeframe for compensation changes will be shared with all of you in the near future.

Sacred Heart employees will transition to St. Luke’s benefit plans, including health care, on July 1, 2018. The open enrollment period for benefits will begin in mid-March. Employee informational meetings will begin in March and will provide details on the benefit plans to assist you in making decisions regarding the benefits that are best for you and your family.

How will the merger affect my anniversary date at Sacred Heart?

Prior years of continuous service with Sacred Heart will be credited to eligible Sacred Heart employees as it relates to all benefit programs, including retirement plan eligibility and vesting.

How will the merger impact the existing Sacred Heart 401(k) and the 403(b) retirement plan(s)?

Effective March 1, 2018, all eligible Sacred Heart employees will be automatically enrolled in the St. Luke’s defined contribution retirement plan, to which St. Luke’s makes annual contributions. Vesting will be based on an employee’s original hire date with Sacred Heart. Eligible employees will also be entitled to participate in the voluntary St. Luke’s 403(b) plan.

Also, effective March 1st Sacred Heart employees’ voluntary retirement contributions will no longer be directed to the Wells Fargo 401(K) and the MetLife 403(b) plans. If you are enrolled in the Wells Fargo 401(k) plan today, this election will be directed to the St. Luke’s Health Network 403(b) Plan with Transamerica. Transamerica representatives will be onsite at Sacred Heart on March 13th and 14th. You will be able to schedule an appointment at beginning March 5th.

Sacred Heart employees with a Wells Fargo 401(k) plan and/or a MetLife 403(b) plan will receive information in the near future on various options for their existing plans – such as future investment opportunities, roll-overs or cash distribution.

Does St. Luke’s offer tuition assistance and am I eligible?

St. Luke’s offers competitive tuition reimbursement for eligible employees (employees who are budgeted for 16 hours or more per week). Tuition reimbursement amounts vary based on the program of study the employee is pursuing. Details of the St. Luke’s tuition assistance will be shared with Sacred Heart employees in the near future.

What if I am contacted by a member of the media about the merger?

If a member of the press contacts you, direct them to the following media contact:

Sam Kennedy, Corporate Communications Director, SLUHN
(484) 526-4134
[email protected]

Whom can I contact if I have additional questions?

Kim Bower, Human Resources Director, and Kimberly White, Benefits/Human Resources Manager, are working closely with the St. Luke’s Network Human Resources Team and should be your first contact with any questions.

Kim Bower, Human Resources Director
(610) 776-4526
[email protected]

Kimberly White, Benefits/Human Resources Manager
(610) 776-4526
[email protected][email protected]

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