Published on September 23, 2020

Tower Health Physician Fulfilling New Leadership Role with Goal of Expanding Access to Care

Focus by Charles F. Barbera, MD on New Ways to Access Care is Helping Patients 

During COVID-19 PandemicBarbera

West Reading, Pa., September 23, 2020 - In July 2019 Charles F. Barbera, MD, MBA, FACEP, was appointed Vice President, Pre-Hospital and Unscheduled Care for Tower Health. In this role, Dr. Barbera oversees the operations and quality of pre-hospital clinical care, telemedicine, and Tower Health Urgent Care. He also works cooperatively with each Tower Health hospital to ensure quality for the provision of emergency care.

Dr. Barbera's role was created to help the health system grow urgent care and telehealth. He provides leadership of the Tower Health Urgent Care service line and helps to operationalize plans for its growth. He works with clinical leaders to formulate and implement plans for the quality, and utilization of telehealth across Tower Health. He oversees the executive teams and Emergency Department clinical leadership at each hospital to drive process improvement and improve clinical quality. Dr. Barbera also oversees the ongoing strategy for ambulance transportation services, 9-1-1 services, and community paramedicine.

With the arrival of COVID-19 in the community, patient use of virtual and telehealth services expanded significantly in response to the government mandated shutdown and public concerns about engaging with healthcare providers in person. Dr. Barbera's leadership allowed Tower Health to respond rapidly to changing community needs.

"Before COVID-19 arrived in our communities we knew our Urgent Care Centers, Emergency Departments, and telemedicine services served as the 'front door' of our health system for many members of the communities," said Clint Matthews, Tower Health President and CEO. "We knew Dr. Barbera's insight and leadership would be invaluable in expanding these services, which were critical to meeting the healthcare needs of the community while helping to keep patients and employees safe. Having Dr. Barbera played a vital role in developing COVID-19 testing sites and rapidly increasing access to telehealth services."

Dr. Barbera added, "Ensuring that members of our communities have access to high-quality healthcare has been our mission since I joined Reading Hospital. The opportunity to help patients who are looking to engage with the health system in new ways is very important to me. We've already been seeing a demand by patients and physicians for additional access to telemedicine services, but we have been encouraged that telehealth became popular in response to the pandemic."

Dr. Barbera was instrumental in helping Tower Health implement a variety of telehealth options including:

  • Scheduled Virtual Visits with Tower Health Medical Group (THMG) - THMG offers virtual visits through MyTowerHealth, the electronic patient portal, which allows patients to speak with their physician or Advanced Practice Provider (APP) by phone or video. These visits are ideal for non-life-threatening conditions which do not require in-person evaluations of symptoms, including routine checkups, general wellness concerns, sinus infections, upper respiratory infections, seasonal allergies, and more.
  • OnDemand Virtual Visits with Tower Health Urgent Care - Tower Health Urgent Care is utilizing Virtual Care by TDH to provide on-demand healthcare, 24/7/365, from the convenience of your smartphone or computer. Through this service, licensed Tower Health Urgent Care physicians and APPs can answer questions, evaluate patient risk and provide immediate care for non-emergent medical issues. Virtual Care by TDH provides general medical care for many non-emergency illnesses such as the flu, sore throat, sinus infection, and seasonal allergies. If medically necessary, a prescription will be sent to your pharmacy of choice. It is an affordable, convenient alternative to in-person Urgent Care and emergency department visits.
  • Scheduled Virtual Visits with St. Christopher's Pediatric Providers - Virtual visits with providers from St. Christopher's Pediatric Associates are available through doxy.me, a safe, secure platform for non-life threatening conditions and those that do not require in-person evaluations of the child's symptoms. The child's pediatric specialist will work with the family when an appointment is scheduled to determine if a virtual visit is a good option.
  • Virtual Intensive Care Unit (ICU) - A Virtual ICU will allow Critical Care physicians to evaluate patients at all Tower Health facilities from a Command Center which is located remotely. Clinical staff will use Epic Monitor/Vidyo, which will allow them to virtually manage patients in all ICU's. They can see the patient, the patient's critical clinical information, and provide direction to caregivers on site.

Dr. Barbera joined Reading Hospital in 1996 and became the Chair of Emergency Medicine for Reading Hospital in 1999, a position he held for more than 20 years. Dr. Barbera is widely known for his work implementing the "warm hand-off" of patients with Opioid Use Disorder directly from the hospital to substance abuse treatment. Dr. Barbera was key in the creation of Reading Hospital's Trauma Center, has helped to develop a successful Community Paramedic Program, and was instrumental in the development of Reading Hospital's Pediatric Emergency Department and Psychiatric Emergency Department.

Dr. Barbera is regularly recognized for his dedication to patients and the community. In 2019, he received the Berks County Medical Society William J. Alexander Award for Contributions to Medicine and Community Service. He is the past President of the Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians and the Berks County Medical Society. In 2018, Dr. Barbera received the Berks County American Red Cross Medical HERO Award and recognition from Becker's Hospital Review on their list of 100 Physician Leaders to Know. In 2017, he received the Council on Chemical Abuse George J. Vogel, Jr. President's Award for his work with the Heroin Task Force. And, in 2016, he received the Caron Foundation Jasper G. Chen See, MD Healthcare Professional Award, the Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physician's Meritorious Service Award, and the Reading Hospital Physician/Nursing Collaboration Award.

Dr. Barbera received his medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and is board certified in Emergency Medicine. He received his MBA from Alvernia University and is a candidate for a Master of Public Health at the George Washington University. Dr. Barbera serves on the Reading Hospital Board of Trustees, on the Alvernia University Board of Trustees, and as a Board Member for Threshold Rehabilitation Services and the Sacred Heart School Board.

Dr. Barbera is available for media interviews to discuss his role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to download a headshot of Dr. Barbera.

About Tower Health

Tower Health is a strong, regional, integrated healthcare provider/payer system that offers leading-edge, compassionate healthcare and wellness services to a population of 2.5 million people. With approximately 14,000 team members, 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 25 urgent care facilities across the Tower Health service area. Tower Health offers a connected network of 2,200 physicians, specialists, and providers across more than 230 convenient locations. For more information, visit towerhealth.org