Four Diamonds funds new cancer innovation center

Dr. Chandrika Gowda, left, collaborates with Dr. Sinisa Dovat on research at Penn State College of Medicine, in this photo taken prior to the pandemic. PHOTO PROVIDED

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital and Penn State College of Medicine, in Hershey, have approved creation of the Four Diamonds Center for Childhood Cancer Innovation, an expansion of Four Diamonds’ work to cure pediatric cancers.

Part of a multi-year strategic plan, the virtual center commits to use $24 million, through the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, from fundraising efforts by Four Diamonds, including Penn State’s THON.

The center fits with Four Diamonds’ mission to provide comprehensive support to children and their families, including paying for 100% of medical expenses related to cancer care not covered by insurance for eligible Four Diamonds children, while expanding clinical research.

A release explained that the center will build upon the work of Four Diamonds in patient care; collaborative opportunities between the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology and the Penn State Cancer Institute; and competitive research grants.

In the patient care area, the center will strive to more precisely identify cancers and develop more personalized treatments that lead to better cure rates and survivorship.

Dr. Yatin Vyas, a pediatric oncologist and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, will oversee the center’s work.

“We are thrilled to continue and expand on Four Diamonds’ pursuit to find a cure for all pediatric cancers,” Vyas said in the release. “We believe philanthropy can ultimately help accelerate the timeline for clinical research and help our investigators discover and get treatments to patients faster. Everyone benefits from a higher level of collaboration, and we are grateful to the generous donors who make this life-saving work possible.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg plans to open $17 million pediatric inpatient unit in November

UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg is poised to open a $17 million, 26-bed pediatric inpatient unit next month.

The new project, on the hospital’s ninth floor, will include 11 new private rooms and 24/7 bedside telemedicine through UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

UPMC Pinnacle already offers inpatient pediatric care on its ninth floor, which will be updated once the new unit is open, allowing the pediatric inpatient unit to take up the entire floor, said Kelly McCall, public relations director for UPMC Pinnacle.

The project will allow families to receive care from specialists at UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“The unit and expanded care will augment the inpatient pediatric patient experience at UPMC Children’s Harrisburg,” said Deborah Willwerth, vice president, Pediatric Services, UPMC Pinnacle. “We look forward to growing services for our young patients and their families and increasing the level of care provided in the coming year.”

The new unit’s 11 private rooms will be designed for universal use, allowing patients to stay in one room for their entire stay.
The month-long build-out for the project will include additions such as age-appropriate furniture, activity tables and interactive displays as well as a lounge for parents.

The system is recruiting physicians, nurses and support staff to work at the unit alongside the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh specialists through telehealth.

McCall added that the system has already brought several new pediatric specialists to the region, including specialists in pediatric cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology and surgery.

Along with the new unit, UPMC Pinnacle added that it will offer enhanced pediatric emergency care such as access to pediatric emergency medicine physicians at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh through emergency video consultations.

UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg’s new pediatric unit joins other UPMC pediatric care in the region such as the system’s UPMC Children’s Specialty Care in Lemoyne, and UPMC Children’s Community Pediatrics offices throughout the midstate.

Schreiber Center awaits zoning approval for new expansion

Zach Groff works on climbing and balance during a session with Jesse Krueger, an occupational therapist at Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development in Lancaster. – SUBMITTED

Schreiber Center for Pediatrics is awaiting zoning approval to expand its Lancaster County outpatient facility.

The physical therapy clinic made a fundraising push in recent years that took its budget out of the red and shortened wait times for an appointment from two years to four months. Since these changes took place, it has outgrown its current offices.

“We are busting at the seams,” said James DeBord, Schreiber’s president. “In the past we didn’t have enough staff. Now we have enough staff but we don’t have the physical space for everyone to be treated.”

East Hempfield Township’s Zoning Hearing Board is expected to rule next month on Schreiber’s request to expand its facility at 625 Community Way.

If approved, the expansion will add 20,000 square feet to the 34,000-square-foot facility, part of which will be used to enlarge the physical therapy department and provide space for new services such as traumatic brain injury therapy.

Schreiber provides outpatient and in-home pediatric therapy to over 4,000 children in Central Pennsylvania a year.

A majority of the  center’s patients are covered by Medicaid, which has low reimbursement rates that can bankrupt a facility without other means to pay its bills, said DeBord. Schreiber offsets the Medicaid rates with local fundraising, which grew from $400,000 in 2012 to more than $2 million this year.

If the expansion is approved, Schreiber will need to raise an additional $6 to $7 million, an increase in fundraising that DeBord said Schreiber is prepared to do.

“In this market in central Pennsylvania, for any nonprofit to raise two million a year in operating dollars, that’s a big lift,” he said, adding that Schreiber will need to continue its fundraising along with the special fundraising for the expansion. “I can’t rob Peter to pay Paul. It’s definitely going to be a major task, but one we are up to.”

Schreiber is preparing to launch a behavioral health services department next year that will operate out of a building across the street from the main facility until the expansion is completed.

Fundraising for the expansion is expected to begin in late 2020 or early 2021, with construction beginning by 2021 or 2022 if the township approves the build.