SELLERSVILLE >> Penn Foundation and St. Luke’s University Health Network have received all the required regulatory approvals to allow for the completion of their merger, effective July 1. Penn Foundation is now part of St. Luke’s University Health Network.

Headquartered in Sellersville, Penn Foundation is a nonprofit, community-based behavioral health provider with 25 behavioral health and substance use treatment programs that serve approximately 20,000 individuals annually. It operates one of Pennsylvania’s first Opioid Use Disorder Centers of Excellence and is an Aetna Institute of Quality and an Independence Blue Cross Center of Distinction.

St. Luke’s is a regional health network with 12 hospital campuses and more than 300 outpatient sites serving 11 counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. St. Luke’s hospitals have earned numerous national awards including the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from IBM Watson Health seven years in a row and in total nine times. In April, IBM Watson Health named St. Luke’s among the top 15 health systems nationwide.

“Penn Foundation has a long and proud history of providing outstanding and compassionate care based on the most recent science and research. All of us at St. Luke’s are honored and pleased Penn Foundation will be joining our Network,” said Rick Anderson, President & CEO of St. Luke’s.

Wayne A. Mugrauer, who will remain President of St. Luke’s Penn Foundation, said, “Penn Foundation is fortunate to be well-positioned to make this strategic change for the future health of our community. Joining St. Luke’s University Health Network assures continued regional access to high-quality behavioral healthcare that is fully integrated with general medicine.”

The St. Luke’s Penn Foundation partnership was unanimously approved last fall by the Board of Directors of Penn Foundation and the Board of Trustees of St. Luke’s. Securing regulatory approval from various agencies followed the votes and was completed this spring.

Now that Penn Foundation is part of St. Luke’s, St. Luke’s operates the largest nonprofit network of inpatient and outpatient behavioral health services in eastern Pennsylvania. The Network’s combined services establish a comprehensive continuum of care to treat patients with behavioral health and substance use disorders.

“After years of exploring strategic partnerships to ensure the sustainability of our mission and to position Penn Foundation to respond to extraordinary demand for services, increasing competition, and, unfortunately, diminishing funding, we are thrilled to have found an extraordinary partner in St. Luke’s University Health Network,” said Dorothy K. Weik-Hange, Esq., Penn Foundation Board Chair. “St. Luke’s shares our community-based mission; values our history, expertise, and contributions to the fields of behavioral health and addiction treatment; and is committed to ensuring these vital services remain accessible within an integrated system of wellness.”

Penn Foundation will retain its affiliation with Mosaic Mennonite Conference as a Conference Related Ministry. This connection to its Anabaptist faith heritage will continue to shape the ministry of Penn Foundation as it grows in its role and reach in partnership with St. Luke's.

"Mosaic Conference is grateful for the good work Penn Foundation has done since 1955," says Margaret Zook, Director of Collaborative Ministries at Mosaic Conference. "Penn Foundation 'quietly shone a light' as a faith-based leader in creative initiatives as it pioneered responsive and innovative approaches in behavioral health. We trust that this new partnership will empower Penn Foundation in its support of local congregations, pastors, and their communities."

As part of the merger, Penn Foundation will expand its Board of Directors to include two St. Luke’s representatives: Tara Koehnlein, CPA, MBA, Vice President, Finance for St. Luke’s University Health Network, and Frank Ford, President, St. Luke’s Sacred Heart.

Penn Foundation’s merger with St. Luke’s comes at a time when the demand for behavioral health services is rapidly rising. Rates of depression, anxiety, suicide and substance use disorder have surged because of the global pandemic.

St. Luke’s has made behavioral health a top priority. In 2018, St. Luke’s tripled its number of behavioral health inpatient beds to 168, making it the largest provider of services of this type in the Lehigh Valley. St. Luke’s Sacred Heart in Allentown recently opened the region’s first Level IV medical detoxification unit, providing 24-hour medical supervision to people withdrawing from alcohol or other drugs.

“St. Luke’s recognizes the significant role that behavioral health services play in the overall health and wellbeing of our community,” Anderson said. “The synergies created by this agreement will benefit patients throughout our service areas for generations to come.”

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