Blank PNG

An Investment



East Stroudsburg University’s College of Health Sciences Community Health Education and Simulation Center, set to open in January 2023, was funded by local organizations and grant awards totaling $859,807. One of the major donors, Lehigh Valley Health Network—Pocono, contributed $150,000.

The center, which is being built in the DeNike Center for Human Services, will offer state-of-the-art simulation and hands-on interprofessional practice opportunities for students in the College of Health Sciences and local community healthcare organizations. 

The simulation lab and patient-focused activities are designed to provide immersive learning experiences. The simulation lab will include two ICU beds with high fidelity manikins, a flexible operating space, a nursing station and observation room, and a high-tech control room where faculty can monitor simulations. 

LVHN’s donation is an investment in the future of healthcare and wellness in the Poconos.

“We [LVHN—Pocono] made a contribution because the simulation center is important to help nursing, and other healthcare students receive good preparation and training to deal with real-life emergencies,” said Cornelio Catena, senior vice president of LVHN and president of Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono. 

“Being next door neighbors, the university and the hospital have a nice, symbiotic relationship. We value the students coming here for their clinical internships, and ultimately, hopefully, they have a good experience, seek employment with us, and take great care of patients,” he said.

ESU and LVHN have long had a reciprocal relationship. From a community partnership standpoint, LVHN—Pocono contributes to various university athletics programs and is a regular sponsor of ESU’s Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. They recently partnered for The Pink Light Walk in October to raise breast cancer awareness. 

“We support ESU’s fundraising efforts because we are invested in giving back to the community and promoting health and wellness throughout the year,” said Jessica Blasco, communications and community engagement manager at LVHN.

From an academic and economic standpoint, the two support each other’s efforts. ESU students get hands-on experience at the hospital during clinical rotations and then become viable candidates for hire after graduation.

Exercise physiology and nursing students have been going to the health network for their clinical internships for more than 30 years, said Lynn Lansdowne, vice president of labor relations and human resources at LVHN.

Each year, between 120-180 nursing students completed their clinicals in the LVHN system, according to Denise Seigart, dean of ESU’s College of Health Sciences.

“When you add in public health internships, exercise science internships, athletic training, speech pathology, health education
MS students, we have had thousands of students pass through LVHN in the last few years,” she said. 

According to data provided by Cynthia Cappel, vice president of education at LVHN, 21 ESU graduates were hired by LVHN in 2020 and 95.2 percent of ESU grads passed the NCLEX, the nurse licensure exam. Last year, nine ESU grads were hired with an 88.9 percent pass rate on the NCLEX.

“Students from the area who want to remain in Northeastern Pennsylvania have a great opportunity to get their education locally and get a good career opportunity right in their home area,” said Catena. 

One such success story is Tiffany Lapotsky, clinical exercise physiologist at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono and adjunct professor in the Department of Exercise Science at ESU. Lapotsky, who earned her undergraduate degree in exercise science in 2020 and master's degree in clinical exercise physiology in 2021, interned at LVHN-Schuylkill as an undergraduate and LVHN—Pocono as a graduate student. She was hired immediately at the latter upon graduation last year and works in Cardiac and Rehabilitation Diagnostic Stress Testing.

“The networking through ESU’s program is amazing. I don’t think a single person in my cohort didn’t get a job, either at LVHN or another local hospital. The majority of my co-workers at LVHN—Pocono are ESU graduates,” Lapotsky said.

Lapotsky’s interest in healthcare, specifically cardiovascular-related studies, began during her childhood in Ashland, a borough of Schuylkill County. Her cousin, two years older and her best friend growing up, was born with a rare heart condition with a minimal survival rate. He had three successful open heart surgeries before he was two.

...”the simulation center is important to help nursing, and other healthcare students receive good preparation and training to deal with real-life “emergencies

“My interest started with research about my cousin’s condition, then we started learning about heart conditions in school. In my undergraduate courses, we had a workshop about coronary heart disease. I was so engaged. I knew immediately that I wanted to focus on cardiovascular studies,” said Lapotsky, who continues to be inspired and motivated by her cousin’s story.

When it came time to choose her clinical internship, Lapotsky landed at LVHN—Schuylkill. Her site supervisor, Crys Zimmerman M'93, told her about the benefits of ESU’s Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology program.

"It was a great experience and inspired me to get my master’s degree,” Lapotsky said.

During her graduate level clinicals, Lapotsky spent a great deal of time at LVHN—Pocono and gained valuable experience that has helped her professionally, both in cardiac rehabilitation and as a teacher of healthcare courses.

Lapotsky, who is in her second year teaching at ESU, instructs Health Related Physical Fitness Assessment, which prepares students for clinical-based skills. She also teaches a Special Populations course, which focuses on specific populations, such as pregnant, stroke, and dementia patients.

“I absolutely love teaching. Since I’m a recent graduate, I can relate to the students, and they can relate to me. I share stories about what I experience in my job at the hospital,” Lapotsky said.

Lapotsky feels grateful for ESU and LVHN’s partnership that allowed her to have many hands-on experiences during her clinical rotations—experience that is necessary to develop the skills and mental fortitude necessary to be a great healthcare provider.

“LVHN’s core values are: Compassion, Integrity, Collaboration, and Excellence. Collaboration and excellence applies to the relationship between LVHN and ESU because their collaborative relationship brings together the next generation of clinicians, researchers, and doctors,” Lapotsky said.

“I always tell my students, it’s easy to practice scenarios on your classmate who is 22-years old and healthy, but when you go to the hospital and you meet someone who has been diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time, or who has had a heart attack, it’s a different story. To be able to experience how emotional the situations are and how compassionate and empathetic you need to be in the moment to help patients is so valuable.”

With the opening of the new Community Health Education and Simulation Center, a wider-range of students will receive authentic experiences and more thorough training than ever before to prepare for their clinical rotations and professional roles.

Catena sees the new center as an exciting addition to the community that will forge even stronger ties between the university and hospital.

“With our investment in the new simulation center, more nursing students and students from other professions can get good training and experience,” he said. “There’s a natural tie-in between the students, and our mission. I see the relationship continuing to grow.” 

Tiffany Lapotsky ’20 M’21, a clinical exercise physiologist at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono and adjunct professor in the Department of Exercise Science at ESU, was hired immediately following graduation last year and works in Cardiac and Rehabilitation Diagnostic Stress Testing. 

Cornelio Catena, Senior Vice President of LVHN and President of Lehigh Valley Hospital — Pocono.