A new agreement between Temple University Hospital and St. Luke’s University Health Network will make it easier for Lehigh Valley residents to get a lung transplant at Temple.
In the past, patients living in the Lehigh Valley would have to travel five to 10 times to Temple for blood tests and meetings with a pulmonary specialist before their procedure, said Livia Bratis, the chief of pulmonary medicine at St. Luke’s.
“That process is quite intimidating for someone who is tied to an oxygen machine, who can’t go outside in the heat, who doesn’t know where parking is downtown,” Bratis said.
The partnership, which has been in effect for the entire summer, allows patients to receive pre- and post-transplant care at hospitals in St. Luke’s network, while the procedure itself is performed at Temple University Hospital, Bratis said. Patients have to make just two visits to Temple now: once before their procedure and another for the duration of the transplant and post-operative care.
“It just makes it a hurdle that seems much more achievable for these patients that get really nervous about travelling,” Bratis said.
St. Luke’s already has similar partnerships with TUH for heart, liver, kidney, pancreas and bone marrow transplants, according to a release from Temple Health in July.
The health network chose Temple for the lung partnership based on the volume of performed transplants each year, Bratis said.
Temple University Hospital performed 131 transplants in 2017, the most in the nation, according to a university release.
The hospital performed 144 in 2018, said Abhinav Rastogi, Temple’s associate hospital director of pulmonary services.
“We get a lot of patients referred to us from other hospitals because we’re able to take higher acute patients,” Rastogi said. “Obviously it’s a high risk procedure … when patients want a lung transplant program, they want to refer themselves to a high volume program.”.
Around 100 patients are currently enrolled in the St. Luke’s and Temple partnership, Bratis said. The first patient returned home from post-operation two weeks ago.
“This program offers many benefits to patients, including an experienced transplant team and a robust research program that is pioneering methods to make donor organs more available and avoid post-transplant complications,” said Michael Young, president and CEO of TUH, in a statement.