Star Community Health Celebrates Five Years of Providing Care to Underserved Patients

Featured Image: Grandmother Robin Geiger watches as case manager Terry Gregg, RN, talks with her twin grandchildren, Sunny and Tizlam Gordon, at Star Community Health Pediatrics in Easton.

Social Worker Saves Man’s Life by Identifying Life-Threatening Condition and Staff Diagnoses Child’s Developmental Disorder and Arranges Specialty Care. 

Star Community Health in January celebrated its fifth anniversary of meeting the health care needs of underserved individuals and groups in our community, including the uninsured. Federally Qualified Health Center Look Alike (FQHC-LA), Star Community provides family medicine, pediatric, women’s health, dental and case management services at 12 locations in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton and four dental vans serving 32 schools in Bucks, Carbon, Monroe, Lehigh and Northampton counties.

Star Community Health has a diverse staff of doctors and residents from 27 countries. Providers and staff speak more than 13 languages. While Star Community Health serves more than 45,000 patients yearly, each patient is special to its staff of doctors, nurses, care managers, financial counselors, referral specialists and social workers. The Star Community Health Team develops care plans for each patient, meeting their individual needs.

Jose Rivera of Allentown and Star Community Health care manager Cindy Knecht, RN, MSW, reunite at Star Community Health Sigal Center in Allentown. During a routine check-in call, Knecht realized that Rivera was very ill and called the ambulance, an action that saved his life.

Jose Rivera, who has diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), has been coming to Star Community Health at the Sigal Center in Allentown for years. When Jose’s girlfriend who managed his care, passed away about a year ago, Star Community Health social worker Cindy Knecht knew Jose could use help. She began calling him every two weeks to make sure he was doing well. During a call earlier this month, Jose told her he was very cold. He sounded off, so she called the ambulance, which took him to the St. Luke’s Allentown Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a staph infection. According to the physician, if he hadn’t come in, he would have died.

“She saved my life,” Jose said. “I don’t think I would be alive today without her. She’s on top of my appointments and always gets me what I need.”

Robin Geiger, a 63-widow raising her twin grandchildren, has brought the children to Star since they were babies. Her granddaughter Sunny has several health and developmental conditions including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and gastroenterological (GI) disorders and epilepsy. The Star Community Health staff helped to diagnose her conditions and align her with medical specialists.

Sunny had her first epileptic seizure when she was less than a year old and her most recent one a couple of years ago.

“She was fine, sitting at the table, and all sudden, she fell off her chair,” said Robin, who had epileptic seizures starting when she was 17. “I held her until the ambulance squad came and talked to her because I know you can hear during a seizure. I wanted to let her know I was there.” The ambulance crew took Sunny to St. Luke’s Anderson, and after a thorough evaluation, she was released.

“After that, Star took care of us and sent us in the right direction,” Robin said. The Star team helped Robin schedule appointments with medical specialists at St. Luke’s Pediatric Specialty Center in Center Valley.

The Star Community Health social work Rose Schenk also helped Robin connect with community organizations and helped her apply for services she is eligible for. When her oven was broken, she even reached out to a local appliance store that gave Robin a new one.

“It gets a little hectic for me,” Robin said. “Thank goodness for Star Community Health because I don’t know where I would be without them. I think my head would be spinning.”

Star Community Health sees patients through every stage of life – while in the womb, childbirth and delivery, newborn and new mom care, well child, adolescent, adult to elderly. It even provides home visits when needed. It has nine specialty practices: Podiatry, Psychiatry, Dermatology, Colorectal, Vascular Services, ENT, Rheumatology, Urogynecology and Endocrinology, which includes diabetes management. Star Community Health has some of the best diabetes control statistics in Pennsylvania and is ranked in the second decile nationally for Federally Qualified Health Centers.

About Star Community Health

Star Community Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center (“FQHC”) affiliated with the St. Luke’s University Health Network. Star Community Health provides high-quality, community-based, patient-directed primary care health services to more than 45,000 patients yearly at 12 locations in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. Services include primary/family medicine, women’s health, pediatrics and dental services and four dental vans treating students in 32 schools. It also assists patients in assessing community health services. As an FQHC, it focuses on meeting the needs of underserved individuals and groups within our community, including uninsured and underinsured people, those experiencing homelessness, agricultural workers, public housing residents and veterans. 


About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of more than 20,000 employees providing services at 15 campuses and 300+ outpatient sites.  With annual net revenue of $3.4 billion, the Network’s service area includes 11 counties in two states: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. St. Luke’s hospitals operate the largest network of trauma centers in Pennsylvania, with the Bethlehem Campus being home to St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital.

Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania.  In partnership with Temple University, the Network established the Lehigh Valley’s first and only four-year medical school campus.  It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 45 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with more than 400 residents and fellows. In 2022, St. Luke’s, a member of the Children’s Hospital Association, opened the Lehigh Valley’s first and only free-standing facility dedicated entirely to kids.

SLUHN is the only Lehigh Valley-based health care system to earn Medicare’s five-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction.  It is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital.  The Network’s flagship University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from Fortune/PINC AI 11 times total and eight years in a row, including in 2023 when it was identified as THE #4 TEACHING HOSPITAL IN THE COUNTRY.  In 2021, St. Luke’s was identified as one of the 15 Top Health Systems nationally.  Utilizing the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information.  The Network is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.

Information provided to TVL by:
Sam Kennedy