Former GHHA president Jim Edwards resigns

John Fletcher named president of Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton

HAZLETON, Pa. - Jim Edwards, former Greater Hazleton Health Alliance (GHHA) president and CEO,announced today that he will be resigning at the end of January.

Under Wednesday's merger with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), Edwards was expected to serve as president of the newly named Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton (formerly Hazleton General Hospital).

Former GHHA chief operating officer (COO) John Fletcher has been named interim president of Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton to succeed Edwards.

Edwards served as GHHA president and CEO since taking over the position in 2004.

He has been part of the health care community in the Hazleton area since starting as a controller at the former St. Joseph Medical Center 23 years ago.

"This decision was extremely difficult for me to make," Edwards said in a news release. "It took tremendous soul searching. But I feel the time is right. Leaving to embark on new challenges is always exciting, but also scary at the same time."

 Edwards said some of the greatest accomplishments that define his time as GHHA president and CEO was to help the organization regain and maintain its financial strength amid the challenges of health care reform, ensure high quality health care services are being provided to the community, and construction of the Hazleton Health & Wellness Center.

 Edwards announced that he does not have any definitive future plans, except to spend some much needed time with his family and explore other opportunities.

"Jim was critical in working with us to bring about the merger with GHHA as our like missions and cultures made joining together a perfect fit," said Dr. Ron Swinfard, Lehigh Valley Health Network president and CEO. "I commend him for the job he and his team have done, and look forward to working more closely with John (Fletcher)."

Fletcher was COO at GHHA since 2004. He has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare primarily in operations and finances including positions with Community Health Systems (CHS) and Berwick Hospital Center.

His successes at Hazleton include:

* overseeing the renovation and expansion of the ER;

* renovations to the OR, patient units and the hospital lobby;

* improving access and delivery of outpatient care through the completion of the Health & Wellness Center at Hazleton;

* developing partnerships with LVHN for emergency care, MI Alert, and teleburn.

LVHN and GHHA announced plans to merge in April . The merger became official on Jan. 1.

A celebration officially welcoming the Hazleton colleagues to LVHN is scheduled for Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton on Jan. 9.

Lehigh Valley Health Network includes four hospital facilities - two in Allentown, one in Bethlehem, and one in Hazleton.

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