LEHIGHTON -- Two health care systems in our area announced Wednesday they are partnering up.
Blue Mountain Health Systems is joining St. Luke's University Health Network, according to a release issued Wednesday.
Officials with both systems say the merger between Blue Mountain Health and St. Luke's will not only help the smaller facility financially, but it will also allow for more services to patients.
Doreen Roth visits Blue Mountain Health System in Lehighton every week for therapy. During this visit, she learned her hospital would be gaining a new partner.
"I only live a mile away which is wonderful for me and there are a lot of people in the area who use it," Roth said.
Officials with Blue Mountain Health System and St. Luke's University Health Network announced plans to join forces in order to offer more care to patients.
Blue Mountain has facilities in Palmerton, Lehighton, and Albrightsville.
St. Luke's provides health care to people in Carbon, Monroe, Lehigh, Northampton, and Schuylkill Counties.
"This is incredibly important," said Blue Mountain Health System President Drew Harris. "What it does is it takes health care to the next level. When I came here 12 years ago, my job was to help raise the bar in health care and I think we've done some great things and now we are raising the bar again."
Officials with Blue Mountain Hospital say it has become increasingly difficult for smaller facilities to remain open. This merger will not only allow them to do that but also add more services.
"There's services that we couldn't provide here that patients would have to get into their car and drive a long distance and now we are going to bring a lot of those services locally," said Harris.
The merger still has to go through federal approval but officials expect it will be a quick transition.
Blue Mountain Health System currently employs about 1,000 people.
Officials with St. Luke's expect that number to grow.
"I think there will be growth here in Carbon County within the Blue Mountain Health System and I think it will take probably a year or so to get things organized to the point when we can begin to grow," said St. Luke's President and CEO Rick Anderson.
Officials say any name changes will be determined once the final merger is federally approved.