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Hackerman-Patz House Celebrates 10 Years

It’s a “home away from home” for LVHN patients’ loved ones.

hackerman patz house

For the past decade, the Hackerman-Patz House has been a home away from home for patients and families receiving care at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN).

A place to de-stress 

Born in Trinidad. Akillah Jemmott, 29, came to the U.S. in 2014. That year, her son Omari was born at LVHN. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy caused by a perinatal stroke. To receive the expert pediatric care Omari needed, Akillah had to travel to the Lehigh Valley from the Poconos for care. 

“The commute was long,” Akillah says. “In addition to cerebral palsy, my son has multiple diagnoses. Being in and out of the hospital is very stressful, especially when you have to stay in the ICU looking at the same four walls for an extended period.”

In the past seven years, Akillah and her mother have come to the Hackerman-Patz House on multiple occasions. Although Akillah now lives in Whitehall, she still gets back to the house. In 2020, she stayed for more than two weeks.

Ten years of comfort 

The Hackerman-Patz House opened its doors July 18, 2011. Located on the campus of LVH–Cedar Crest, the family lodging center offers patients and families a convenient, inexpensive place to rest. 

The nightly rate of just $45 per room has not changed in six years. The building has 20 private rooms, a shared kitchen, laundry facilities, an outdoor garden space, a playroom for children and a Great Room for relaxing and making friends. Toiletries and pantry items are all donated. 

“There are lots of smiles and tears. The miracles that our doctors and staff perform with our patients are just phenomenal.”

A gift to the community

This “home away from home” was made possible by a $2 million gift from the late Willard Hackerman, President and CEO of Baltimore’s Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. While managing the construction of the Kasych Family Pavilion, Willard and his wife, Lillian Patz-Hackerman, admired the health network’s warm and welcoming spirit. Therefore, they decided to build a Hackerman-Patz House here, the first outside the Baltimore area. 

Gratitude for the love 

“I want to give thanks to everyone who works at the Hackerman-Patz House and to the Hackermans,” Akillah says. “They really knew what they were doing when they created such an environment. You meet so many people going through unknown battles with family members or even themselves. When you walk into this space you can just feel the love.” 

Common area, Hackerman-Patz House

4 Things You May Not Know About the Hackerman-Patz House

Support for anyone, from anywhere 

In its first year of operation, the Hackerman-Patz House served 1,300 guests. Since then, more than 100,000 guests from all over the United States and the world have visited. Some guests have loved ones hospitalized in critical care units. Others are awaiting an adopted child to be born or undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“We have people that are here for a night or two, but we also have people who are here for months at a time,” says Kelley Gold, Director of Guest Services since 2013. “Despite the tragic circumstances they are going through, our guests are positive and want to give back. They are amazing.”

When the Hackerman-Patz House opened, it was exclusively for people who lived more than 30 miles away. But the distance requirement has since been dropped. Today, rooms are in demand. The house is filled to capacity nearly 75 percent of the time. During the pandemic, rooms were made available to hospital staff.

Everyday miracles 

Gina Jones, a Staff Assistant since the house opened, says taking care of guests has been a rich and rewarding experience. “The job takes on a different flavor every day,” she says. “There are lots of smiles and tears. The miracles that our doctors and staff perform with our patients are just phenomenal.”

“Kelley and the staff go above and beyond to make sure that, although you’re going through a very stressful time in your life, you feel as comfortable and as at-home as possible,” Akillah says. “That is genuine kindness and empathy.”

Giving back

Akillah is now working as an Administrative Partner in the Jeffrey Paul and Grace Kathryn Feather Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and currently studying for her master’s degree in health care administration. “Working in the PICU gives me a chance to give back to kids like my son,” she says. “I try to make these kids as comfortable and happy as possible. Sometimes they have no one there with them.”

A home that’s here for you

The Hackerman-Patz House is located at 1260 S. Cedar Crest Blvd., Allentown, Pa. 18105. The house is located on the campus of LVH–Cedar Crest across from the emergency room. To make a reservation, call 610-402-9500

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