Tower Health names EVP, physician enterprise leader and interim chief medical officer

Suzanne Wenderoth, MD

Tower Health has named Dr. Suzanne Wenderoth executive vice president, CEO of Physician Enterprise and chief medical officer for the seven-hospital system.

She was most recently senior vice president and chief clinical officer of Tower health medical Group

Wenderoth will be in charge of aligning all physicians and providers who practice at Tower Health. That would include both employed and independent community-based clinicians – including the Tower Health Medical Group, Tower Health providers, facility chief medical officers, and others.

She will also be leading quality and safety initiatives for the system,

“Dr. Wenderoth has the background, experience and trusted relationships we need to lead the clinical reorganization and physician practice transformation initiatives that are critical to securing a bright future for Tower Health,” said P. Sue Perrotty, interim president and CEO of Tower Health. “We are fortunate to have a trusted Tower Health leader to serve in this important position as we continue our work to secure the best possible future for our organization.”

Wenderoth has more than 20 years in health care and health care management. She has previously served in such roles as vice president of Ambulatory and Clinical Initiatives and medical director of Patient Centered Medical Home, Primary Care for the Reading Health System.

Tower Health CEO Clint Matthews retires

Reading Hospital PHOTO/FILE


After a year in which the nation’s hospitals struggled both financially and operationally, Clint Matthews has announced his retirement as president and CEO of the Berks County-based Tower Health.

Sue Perrotty, a retired bank executive, has been named as Matthews’ interim replacement. Perotty has been a member of the health network’s board of directors since July 2019.

If the health network needs help shoring up its finances. She would seem to be the person for the job.

According to a press release from Tower, Perrotty brings decades of leadership experience in the banking and finance industries to her new role.

Over the course of her career, Perrotty has overseen multi-billion-dollar corporate integrations, managed several mergers and advised businesses of all sizes in the Reading community, Philadelphia and beyond. The health network said she is a noted expert on corporate governance and serves as an independent director of several businesses, including the publicly traded Global Net Lease Inc.

Sue Perrotty

Perrotty had a 27-year career in banking, culminating in her role as executive vice president and head of global operations for First Union Corp.

“Sue has the unique ability to empower those she works with to think big and achieve things they never would have thought possible. Combined with her listening and tremendous people skills, she makes great things happen,” said Samuel McCullough, former CEO for nearly 20 years of Meridian Bank and current chairman, president and CEO of Griffin Holdings Group LLC. “When we worked together, she was instrumental to our growth and success, and she remains a trusted confidant. Simply put, she always gets the job done and makes those around her better.”

Clint Matthews

Matthews had been with Tower Health for 10 years, taking over the CEO’s job for the health network from his role as president of its flagship Reading Hospital in West Reading.

Under Matthews, Reading Hospital acquired five hospitals in September of 2017 to become Tower health and he took the lead role in that health network.

Under his tenure, Tower created a partnership with Drexel University to develop a medical school in Reading. The health network also expanded services including the acquisition of 19 urgent care centers in 2018.

COVID-19, however, put a big hit on the health network.

In June it announced it was eliminating 1,000 positions within the health network.

At that time Matthews said that between March and May, the health network experienced a $212 million loss in revenue, roughly 40% of its revenue, because of the suspension of elective procedures caused by the pandemic.

Expenses were also up because of extra personal protective equipment and other pandemic safety protocols.

The health network closed its Pottstown Hospital Maternity Unit and closed or consolidated a number of outpatient services and practices.

Tower Health consists of Reading Hospital in West Reading; Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville; Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia; Jennersville Hospital in West Grove; Phoenixville Hospital in Phoenixville; Pottstown Hospital in Pottstown; and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, a partnership of Tower Health and Drexel University in Philadelphia.

It also includes Reading Hospital Rehabilitation at Wyomissing; Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences in West Reading; home healthcare services provided by Tower Health at Home; and a network of 27 urgent care facilities across the Tower Health service area.

Tower Health receives shipment of counterfeit N95 masks

Reading-based Tower Health said it was recently the recipient of counterfeit 3M 1860 N95 masks. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES


Reading-based Tower Health said it was recently the recipient of counterfeit 3M 1860 N95 masks.

The health network said it had used an alternative vendor to acquire masks when its primary PPE vendor was not able to meet its demand.

On Feb. 3, the health network was notified by 3M that it had received counterfeit masks from the supplier, which had received the masks and believed they were genuine 3M masks, but were not.

In a statement the health network said many other health care providers nationally and globally have been impacted by the receipt of the same kind of fraudulent PPE supplies.

While the masks had already been distributed at Reading Hospital and other hospitals in the network, Tower said the incident did not impact patient care, since the health network did have alternative PPE available for staff.

Tower noted that only about 12% of the counterfeit masks it received had been distributed throughout the health system before 3M notified the health system of the problem.

The remainder of the masks have been removed from inventory.

According to CBS News, U.S. Customs and Border Protection have seized nearly 15 million counterfeit N95 masks since the start of the pandemic. The concern is that such masks may not meet U.S. Health & Safety standards.

Reading Hospital now offering monocolonal antibody treatment for COVID-19

Tower Health’s Reading Hospital has now been approved to offer the new COVID-19 treatment, bamlanivimab, the monocolonal antibody developed by Eli Lilly that is similar to the treatment President Donald Trump was given when he contracted the virus.

The treatment, which should be administered as soon as possible after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, is aimed at helping patients who are at high risk of progressing to a severe COVID-19 case or hospitalization.

In a phase II double-blind randomized controlled trial of 465 patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, hospitalizations of patients who received bamlanivimab were 70 percent lower than for patients who received a placebo.

The treatment is given as an infusion. It will be administered in a recently converted unit on the fourth flood of E-Building on the hospital’s main campus in West Reading.

St. Luke’s University Health Network was also recently authorized to administer the treatment. It provides the infusion at its Easton and Warren County, New Jersey hospitals.

“The drug is initially being distributed to hospitals based on their COVID-19 census,” said Debra Powell, MD, chief, Division of Infectious Disease and medical director Infection Prevention at Reading Hospital –Tower Health. “We are pleased with the early results of bamlanivimab. We are excited that Reading Hospital will be able to provide this as another option to treat our patients while likely decreasing hospitalizations.”

According to the hospital, the treatment is aimed at the COVID-19 spike protein, which is the mushroom-looking projection from the main body of the virus.

Similar to the antibodies made by a person’s own immune system, the monoclonal antibody attaches to the virus, both preventing the virus’ attachment to the patient’s cells, and tagging the virus for destruction by the patient’s own immune system.

A Conversation With: Russell Showers, senior vice president & chief human resources officer at Tower Health in Reading

LVB: Reading Hospital is one of Berks County’s largest employers. What are the challenges of managing such a large workforce?

Showers: One of the biggest challenges is structuring a work experience for a population that has diverse needs. Even with the pandemic and the related challenges, recruitment for healthcare workers is very, very competitive. Recruiting and retaining talent is another significant challenge. Patient volumes are also very unpredictable at this time so managing operations in an efficient manner continues to be one of our ongoing responsibilities.

LVB: The COVID-19 pandemic must be impacting staffing. Some procedures have been postponed while COVID-care is keeping everyone busy. How do you cope?

Showers: During such an unprecedented situation, our employees are doing a tremendous job staying focused on providing high quality care one day at a time while fulfilling our promise to the community of advancing health and transforming lives. Even during the pandemic, we don’t want the community to postpone care, including critical elective and non-emergency care. We continue to offer a safe environment for people to come and receive the care they need. From an operations perspective we continue the common practice of staffing to the level of patient volume.

LVB: Finding staff and professionals in the health care field is challenging, what does Reading Hospital do to get the people it needs?

Showers: We are constantly sourcing candidates in the market and building relationships with candidates. We are active in social media and we conduct regular virtual recruiting events, sharing with candidates how great it is to work at Tower Health, the quality of care we provide, and how an individual can develop a career at Tower Health. We also advertise using multiple platforms. We also keep a constant eye on the market to ensure we continue to offer competitive pay and quality benefits.

LVB: Looking at 2021, and a hopeful end to the pandemic, where would you like to see the hospital as far as staffing and professional development goes?

Showers: We currently make significant investments in professional development and will continue to do so. We are also focused on retaining the talent we have within the organization and maintaining staffing levels to handle the growth in patient volume we anticipate as the pandemic is brought under control. Our continual focus is providing a safe environment for our employees and patients.

Tower Health updates COVID-19 visitation policy

Tower Health has announced changes in its visitation for hospitals in its network, including Reading Hospital in West Reading and Pottstown Hospital in Pottstown.

The changes are aimed to protect patients, staff and the community as the number of COVID-19 cases rise.

Starting Nov. 27, no visitors, except those deemed medically necessary, will be allowed in the hospital.

Some exceptions will be made.

In hospital adult inpatient units:

  • Two visitors for end-of-life patients.
  • Two visitors for COVID-19 positive patients at the end-of-life.
  • Visitors for COVID-19 positive patients who are not end-of-life are permitted only by exception based on clinical judgment.
  • Patients with disabilities (including those who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19) may have one designated support person or guardian stay with them during hospital visiting hours, and one visitor may remain overnight if the hospital can accommodate them.


In NICU, inpatient pediatric units, emergency departments, and physician practices:

  • Parents and guardians of pediatric and NICU patients are permitted.
  • Identified times for NICU visitation may be implemented, and the number of parents visiting the NICU at same time may be limited based on the number of patients and capacity to assure social distancing and protection of patients, staff, and visitors.


In maternity units:

  • One designated support person is permitted.
  • Doulas are considered part of the care team and are permitted.


In emergency departments and psychiatric emergency departments:

  • One visitor per patient in the emergency department only when the patient is a minor (under 18), the patient has a disability, or the visitor is the patient’s communicator and in specific cases of interpreter need.


At Reading Hospital Rehabilitation at Wyomissing:

  • No visitors, except those deemed medically necessary, will be permitted.
  • No children under the age of 18 or pets will be permitted.


Patients who are not suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 may receive religious services from clergy.

A patient’s care team will decide on a case-by-case basis whether having a visitor is clinically appropriate, including when the visitor is a family member supporting the patient by providing care.

There are also changes to outpatient services.


In surgical and outpatient procedure departments:

  • One support person may accompany patient for outpatient and same-day surgery or procedure.
  • Guidelines for waiting, notification post procedure, and discharge are specific to each hospital and department and will be communicated to the patient during pre-op/pre-procedure education. If the patient is to be admitted after surgery, the support person will be permitted to visit for a short period while the patient is in recovery.


In physician practices, urgent care practices, and ambulatory surgery locations:

  • One designated support person is permitted.
  • No switching of support persons is permitted during the visit.
  • Support persons must remain in the waiting area unless: the patient is a minor (under 18), the patient has a disability, or the visitor is the patient’s communicator and in specific cases of interpreter need.

“As cases surge in our hospitals and communities we must prioritize the health and safety of our patients and team members. As a community we must remain vigilant to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Please continue to wear your mask, wash your hands with soap and water, or alcohol-based sanitizer if soap is not available, and practice social distancing,” said Dr. Debra Powell, chief of Infectious Disease and medical director of infection prevention at Reading Hospital.

Leading a remote team may require you to tweak your style

What does it take to be a great virtual leader?

Clear Communication. Holding self and others accountable. Providing and being flexible while maintaining productivity and meeting deadlines.

The more the workday changes – from home offices and remote work weeks to flexible schedules, finding the best way to communicate expectations and maintain accountability and performance standards, managing virtual teams requires the same fundamentals essential to any great leadership position. 

“It brings you back to the basics of leadership- creating an environment where people feel welcome, safe and that their contributions matter”, said Katie P. Desiderio, a faculty member and executive director for graduate business programs and assistant vice president for corporate educational partnerships at Moravian College in Bethlehem.

Leadership, she says, is about human performance. 

“It [virtual working] puts you to the test. We can easily get comfortable when we are face-to-face and make assumptions about how we interact with people. Leaders move people forward, and how you are doing that in a virtual space can be a real challenge,” she said.

She said a lot of managers who fall prey to “micromanaging” their teams do so unintentionally.

“The hardest thing for adults is unlearning- now you have to unlearn those things that won’t work, especially in a virtual space,” Desiderio said.

Trust me

Effective virtual teams have trust at their core. And a good virtual team or meeting leader doesn’t have to be the traditionally assigned manager.

“You can lead from any seat. With leaders it always starts with you. Leadership starts right here, right now, when you realize the influence you already have,” she said.

Tony Grycewicz, vice president of talent management for Tower Health in West Reading, said even though virtual team leadership is different because the medium is different the same practices and techniques are the same.

Clear performance expectations and work parameters, as well as frequency of check in contacts are important in maintaining an individual’s performance, Grycewicz said. “Working from home is not easy. There is a different level of distraction and discipline,” he said.

Management styles may need some adjusting, too, according to Grycewicz.

For those who like to be active on the floor, from walking around the office to having quick informal chats, the move to working online has meant some adjustments.

“They almost have to schedule time to check-in [now, and] that has created some adjustment. For those leaders who are more regimented, they can slot those times into a calendar,” he said.

For schedulers who don’t need as much contact as their more extroverted counterparts, the virtual atmosphere may work more easily. But the more social aspects of working, such as gathering in break rooms for a cup of coffee or joining colleagues for lunch, is harder to replicate in the virtual environment.

“A box of donuts or ordering in pizza, those things are harder to do and we’re trying to find ways around that,” Grycewicz said of social connections with virtual teams at Tower.

Show vulnerability

Ken Byler, owner of Higher Ground Consulting Group LLC., in Souderton, Montgomery County, said virtual leaders need to be more vulnerable with their employees, something that makes many uncomfortable during normal conditions.

“It’s not about weakness but being able to say, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I need something.’ Modeling vulnerability will build more trust in their team members,” Byler said of effective virtual leaders.

Those who can laugh off the noisy garbage truck pick-up, or remain nonplussed while a youngster runs around the room during a Zoom meeting, show others they are human. Byler said handling those displays with ease makes people more trustworthy. 

The behaviors healthy teams’ model – trust, flexibility, a common goal – are even more vital in a virtual environment. 

Handling healthy conflict is another aspect of an effective leader, whether in-person or virtual. 

“Just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone. If you are used to debating [issues or processes] onsite, you have to be willing to debate virtually, too, though it may look different,” Byler said.

While some team members who need more social contact may also feel isolation more keenly, there are ways to provide interaction with remote employees.

Communication methods may need to change. Email may prove too slow, so a phone call or text message could become more effective. It’s also a more present and human contact. 

“Most managers have this idea that efficiency is the most important thing, but remote efficiency looks different,” Byler said of trying different approaches to manage virtual teams.

Be accountable

Holding one another or subordinates accountable may likely need a fresh approach, too. Byler recommends a one-on-one approach regardless of whether subordinates work on site or from a remote office.

“If you’re used to holding people accountable in team meetings by calling them out- which isn’t a good way to do that – a spouse or kids could be listening,” during a virtual session, he said.

Instead, schedule time for a virtual or old-fashioned telephone call – away from the larger team, to address performance issues. A lot of managers and team leaders don’t like accountability conversations, but allowing performance issues to persist may mean late work or missed deadlines that impact the larger team or business successes, according to Byler. 

Regardless of whether employees are conducting business on, or off, site, he said great leaders will model healthy people management practices.

Better meeting planning and facilitation will naturally create better meeting outcomes. “Most people are just trying to shift their current meeting structure to a virtual environment, and it’s a disaster,” Byler said.

To be most effective virtual meetings should focus on one or two agenda items, and encourage some healthy debate around those ideas. 

Proposed business outcomes need to have buy-in from everyone on the team and be summarized easily, so employees understand and commit to their part of the project.

“If you’re not able to make those transitions you’re going to struggle,” Byler said.

Tower Health names new CFO for Reading Hospital

Mark Reyngoudt –


Reading Hospital has a new chief financial officer. Tower Health has named Mark Reyngoudt to the position at its flagship hospital. He will be in charge of health care finance, operations and strategy for the hospital in West Reading.

Reyngoudt has more than 20 years’ experience as a CFO for both acute-care and long-term care health systems and hospitals. He joined Tower Health in 2018 as CFO of Brandywine Hospital-Tower Health.

Before that he was with UPMC Pinnacle Carlisle, where he served as CFO for four years. He also held senior leadership positions in finance with health systems in Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida.

Reyngoudt holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ambassador University in Pasadena, California.

He is active in the local business community and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce.

Tower Health names first vice dean of West Reading Drexel campus

Restifo –


Tower Health has named the first vice dean of its Drexel University Campus in West Reading.

Dr. Karen Restifo comes to Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, where she served as associate dean of student affairs. She starts Sept. 1.

“Appointing Dr. Restifo regional vice dean is another important milestone in our partnership with Drexel University and in fulfilling our academic mission by educating the physicians of tomorrow” said Clint Matthews, Tower Health President and CEO in a written statement.

Before her time at USC, Restifo was associate dean of student affairs at the University of Arizona College of Medicine at Phoenix, and then at the Texas Christian University and University of North Texas Health Sciences Medical School.

The Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health is part of the The Knitting Mills redevelopment project, the site of the former VF Factory Outlets. The site is close to Reading Hospital, which is owned by Tower Health.

Matthews said the partnership with Drexel University and creation of the campus came about because of a looming shortfall of physicians.

The American Association of Medical Colleges has estimated that by 2030 the nation would need about 122,000 physicians, Matthews said.

Nutting named chief medical officer for Reading Hospital

Nutting –


Tower Health has named Dr. Ron Nutting, as the new chief medical officer of Reading Hospital in West Reading.

He has been serving as interim chief medical officer since March.

In the role he will provide senior executive leadership to the hospital’s medical staff while aiming to foster quality and innovation in medical services provided to the community.

Nutting started his career as a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at Reading Hospital in 1992 following military service that included tours of duty in Desert Storm.

Nutting transitioned from clinical care into medical staff administration in 2013 where he served as director of medical staff offices until 2019, when he assumed the role of vice president of medical staff services offices for the Tower Health System.

During his tenure as director of medical staff services, Nutting led several initiatives including the adoption of new medical staff bylaws, policies and rules at Reading Hospital that were then adopted across all of Tower Health with the acquisition of the new hospitals.

Nutting is formally trained in Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, and leads many clinical and operational improvement initiatives.

He began the role July 19.


Tower Health to open 3 urgent care centers this summer

Tower Health of Reading said it will open three new Tower Health Urgent Care facilities.

Tower Health Urgent Care North Coventry, at 16 Glocker Way in North Coventry Township, will open July 6; Tower Health Urgent Care Sinking Spring, at 4860 Penn Avenue in South Heidelberg Township, will open July 20; and Tower Health Urgent Care Thorndale, at 3411 Lincoln Highway, Suite 3451 in Caln Township, will open Aug. 3.

All Tower Health Urgent Care facilities are open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to provide walk-in care for a variety of conditions including: colds, flu, allergies, asthma, sore throat, sports injuries, minor lacerations, sprains, earaches and earaches, and preventative services such as physicals, vaccines, and occupational health.

“Urgent Care is an essential link in our continuum of care that connects patients to a physician if they do not have a primary care doctor or their doctor is not available,” said Clint Matthews, president and CEO, Tower Health in a release.

All of the urgent care centers will use Epic, the electronic medical record in use across Tower Health. Epic brings patient health information from Tower Health care sites into one health record to create more coordinated care.

Uncertainty and isolation trigger a spike in mental health treatments

Will a new normal develop for mental health care insurance coverage as a result of Covid-19?

Better insurance coverage for phone, text and video or telehealth appointments by those seeing mental health care could be driving a spike of calls to clinicians since the coronavirus pandemic. 

“In my opinion there is at least a 20 percent increase, compared to the same period last year, in both our mental health and wellness services,” said Eduardo Espiridion, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Reading Hospital Tower Health. Espiridion attributes the spike to fear of coronavirus, joblessness and isolation resulting from stay at home orders.

Health care professionals are connecting an increase in patients to the pandemic which has created a shift aided by health care insurance for services that were not previously covered. The shift has expanded care to more people with the hope at least some of the benefits will become permanent. 

Area clinicians are seeing increased medical insurance reimbursements for telehealth services, too, as well as payment breaks to patients including waived co-pays, co-insurance and deductible fees. 

Televideo and telephone visits, along with virtual appointments have caused an increase in patients attending scheduled visits, said Laura Campbell, interim clinical director of the outpatient behavioral health clinic at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

“Patients who might have been no-shows or cancelled their appointments pre-COVID are now able to engage with us and receive the services they need,” she said.

Virtual visits by phone or video link have removed barriers for many patients – from transportation to making childcare arrangements or coordinating work appointment times, she noted. 

According to a recent report by The Washington Post about 50 percent of Americans reported the crisis is impacting their mental health, and a federal emergency hotline handing emotional distress calls reported a 1,000 percent surge in contacts in April.

“I think people are anticipating a spike and the concern is being able to handle it,” said Stacy D. Martin, a licensed psychologist in Hellertown.

Prior to Covid-19, Martin was offering telehealth visits to patients. She said the transition was easy once the crisis began. Since the pandemic and shutdown order by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Martin has retained the majority of her clients and added new ones. 

Because many insurance carriers are waiving co-pays and co-insurance and deductible costs, financial stresses associated with seeking treatment in light of job uncertainty now – and in the future – are lessened, she said.

“Insurance is now all covering phone calls, which they never did before,” Martin said.

From losing family members or friends to the virus, being away from schools and routine and the inability to celebrate milestone occasions like weddings, graduations or significant birthdays, the pandemic was taking a significant toll. 

“It’s a really big loss,” she said.

While some insurance companies were already reimbursing telehealth visits for mental health appointments, the reimbursement amount was at a lower rate than face-to-face reimbursement to practitioners. 

“Now they are reimbursing at the same rate, and the other agencies that didn’t cover it pre-pandemic, there is a huge hope this will continue,” Martin said.

Beyond convenience and flexibility, some patients respond better to telehealth services than in-office visits. “I really think it’s a great model for providing mental health treatment,” she said.

Tripp Carey’s practice was already full and he was not taking new clients prior to the coronavirus outbreak. The licensed psychologist and operator of White Oak Counseling Center in Upper Saucon Township, said some of his colleagues’ practice loads were also full. But oncecoronavirus restrictions were put in place some treatment times opened up.

“Some patients dropped care or did not feel comfortable working electronically,” Carey said.

Some new patients were motivated by the extra stress caused by the pandemic to seek help, and nearly everyone is being treated online despite the state listing mental health care an essential sector for in-person treatment.

“A lot of therapists had never done this – it was a massive shift. Lots of people were learning how to set it up and get it going,” Carey said.

But virtual therapy isn’t a magic solution for everyone. Carey said there are non-verbal cues that are lost online, and some patients don’t have the space in their homes for private appointments right now, with children home from school.

Carey suggested a hybrid model for treatment could emerge after coronavirus, especially if insurance companies continue to pay the same reimbursement fees for telehealth as they do in office visits.

Espiridion said virtual visits at Reading have increased access to mental health services. “It will complement well with the face-to-face visits to increase patient and clinician options. In the era of a pandemic, it is also a very safe way of delivering healthcare services,” he said.

Tower Health started virtual care in ambulatory locations, and all outpatient providers are were furnishing mental health care to new and established patients. 

Telemedicine consultation services to reduce staff exposure to Covid-19 were a way to meet the needs of patients while keeping everyone safer, he said. 

Outreach as a result of virtual communication could also expand services in the region moving forward. 

“This is an additional way to provide mental health services at facilities that don’t have mental health providers on their staff,” Espiridion said.