We have a health care history to be proud of here in Reading. Reading Hospital, founded by a handful of physicians and business leaders more than 150 years ago, is today among the Top 50 best hospitals in America, according to Healthgrades, and was once again ranked #8 in the state by U.S. News & World Report. The hospital’s emergency department sees more patients than any other hospital in the commonwealth, our HealthPlex is a leading surgical facility, and we deliver more than 3,500 babies each year.
I was born at Reading Hospital — as were my husband, sister, and children. And we’re proud to still call Berks County home.
To community members, Reading Hospital has always represented quality, innovation and deeply compassionate care during difficult times. As I step into the position as Chair of the Board for Tower Health — which includes our beloved Reading Hospital — I do so with a deep commitment to the long-term sustainability of local health care.
I recognize that we have navigated unique challenges over the past few years, including a historic pandemic and an ongoing financial turnaround. I’ve watched the board prioritize providing high-quality health care for the community, and we maintain that clear-eyed focus on patient-centered care and financial stability as we move forward.
Today, Tower Health is refocusing on its core strengths across the Route 422 corridor of Berks, Western Montgomery and Chester counties, and we’ll continue partnerships with leading health and academic organizations — including Drexel University, Penn Medicine and Acadia Healthcare — to bolster the delivery and access of care throughout the region.
As we continue Tower’s financial turnaround, we are beginning to see the results of everyone’s collective efforts, but we still have much work to do to truly succeed with our new strategic direction. We are committed to doing just that to guarantee the top-quality health care this community has come to depend on from Reading Hospital will continue for decades ahead.
I am drawing on my 36 years of experience in banking and finance — and my seven years on the board — to prioritize our commitment to high quality care, strengthen our operational performance, and enhance employee engagement, workforce stability and continued compassionate care across the entire health system.
We’re already building momentum: At Reading Hospital, these changes are being led by Dr. Charles Barbera, the first physician to serve as the hospital’s president and CEO. He understands, as I do, that a hospital is part of the community fabric — with health and economic impacts far beyond its walls.
In our state, one in nine jobs is supported by a hospital, according to the Hospital Health System Association of Pennsylvania. Here in Berks County, Reading Hospital serves as the largest health care employer — with more than 7,400 team members.
The new Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health campus, less than a mile away from the hospital, is already attracting top-tier talent and building a future pipeline of doctors in the region.
It can be easy to look at the numbers and forget about the human impact of health care. As a lifetime resident of Berks County, I know that most people in the area have received treatment at the hospital or watched a loved one receive care here at least once in their lives.
That human responsibility — to our loved ones, friends, and neighbors — represents the heart and soul of Tower Health. We are working to reach community members with compassionate, innovative and equitable care beyond the walls of our buildings, and this important work will continue.
In Reading and Pottstown, our Street Medicine program offers primary and preventative care to those at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. At Phoenixville Hospital, our long participation in the Project SEARCH internship program has offered work experience to students with developmental or intellectual challenges, equipping them for careers in health care and other industries. Pottstown Hospital is working to increase access to healthy food through a student-run organic farm, in partnership with GreenAllies. And soon, we’ll be launching a Mobile Mammography Coach, equipped with state-of-the-art screening technology to remove transportation barriers for breast cancer screenings.
Looking to the future, we released a comprehensive report in July — 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment — identifying four priority areas: access to equitable care, behavioral health and health education and prevention, and health equity. This was the culmination of an extensive process involving more than 4,000 community members with the goal to understand our unique health and social needs. Led by Desha Dickson, Tower Health’s vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Community Wellness, planning is underway with our community partners at each hospital, which will be completed in November and shared publicly.
Our local health care system and community share a unique relationship, which we’ve seen proudly on display during the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. I watched our community rise to support health care workers, going above and beyond to provide tangible help at a time when resources were limited.
Like so many others, I have an immense sense of pride in this community and a deep commitment to it. While there are certainly challenges ahead, I’m honored to serve on our board, alongside many others who share the same passion and dedication, and I look forward to what we can achieve together for our region.
Meg Mueller is Chair of the Tower Health Board and Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Banking at Fulton Bank.