Former Bethlehem Haven client. Photo by Joey Kennedy.

Two local nonprofits, Bethlehem Haven and Pittsburgh Mercy, have joined forces in order to better serve women in need.

Bethlehem Haven, a full-service women’s shelter based in Uptown Pittsburgh, became a wholly owned subsidiary of Pittsburgh Mercy, one of the largest health and human service providers in the region. The organizations will collaborate on delivering enhanced health programs and services to under-served, at-risk and homeless women in Allegheny County and beyond.

The transition includes the appointment of Bethlehem Haven CEO Deborah W. Linhart, who assumed her responsibilities on July 5. Linhart boasts more than 37 years working in gender-based healthcare, including stints at the Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation and the Allegheny Health Network (AHN), where she recently served as vice president of Women’s Health Initiatives.

Linhart previously worked with Pittsburgh Mercy and says her experience with them demonstrated their commitment to helping people.

“For five years I had my own consulting company, and Mercy was one of my clients,” says Linhart. “The integrity was there, and they were always putting the patient and client first.”

The new partnership will benefit both organizations, with Bethlehem Haven gaining access to many of Pittsburgh Mercy’s resources. Currently, Bethlehem Haven assists 1,500 women from Allegheny County, Greene County and Washington County. They also take in women from across Pennsylvania and the country.

While Pittsburgh Mercy serves more than 33,000 people annually with a wide variety of health and wellness programs, they plan on using Bethlehem Haven’s expertise to improve their focus on women. This includes a special emphasis on behavioral health, which, as Linhart explains, can especially affect their clients.

“The homeless have behavioral health issues just from the stress of living on the street if nothing else,” says Linhart.

Photo by Joey Kennedy.
Photo by Joey Kennedy.

The partnership will allow Bethlehem Haven clients to take advantage of Pittsburgh Mercy’s extensive behavioral and mental health programs, as well as a crisis center for those struggling with suicide and other crises. They also provide housing for people who suffer from mental illness and intellectual disabilities.

The acquisition will also grant much-needed support to Bethlehem Haven as they become part of the Pittsburgh Mercy system. Linhart says that, as a small nonprofit, they face many administrative and financial challenges that a more powerful partner like Pittsburgh Mercy can mitigate.

“Before we moved with Pittsburgh Mercy, we outsourced human resources, finance and IT,” says Linhart. “Now they can help us do that, we don’t have to have those expenses.”

She adds that Pittsburgh Mercy, which has the distinction of being one of the largest employers in Southwestern Pennsylvania, can also offer Bethlehem Haven employees a “richer benefits package,” opportunities for career advancement and other perks. “We’re going to be looking at salaries and things a small nonprofit may not be able to afford.”

The two organizations will outline their combined mission during a strategic planning session next month.

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.