PAM Health to construct first rehab hospital in Pa.

Enola-based PAM Health announced plans Thursday to build a freestanding 42-bed physical medicine and rehabilitation hospital in Mechanicsburg, its first inpatient rehabilitation hospital in the state.

Overall, the Mechanicsburg facility will be the fourth PAM Health hospital in Pennsylvania, including long-term acute care specialty hospitals in the Wilkes-Barre, Pittsburgh and Beaver areas.

Construction of the hospital is expected to begin in early 2023, with opening projected for 2024.

“Central Pennsylvania is an ideal location for a PAM Health hospital,” Anthony Misitano, chairman, founder and CEO of PAM Health, said in a release. “We look forward to adding a hospital where our employees and their families live and work so we can provide high-quality inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation option to our friends and neighbors in the region.”

The new hospital will assist patients with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, strokes and other neurological disorders, amputations, and other orthopedic and post-surgical conditions.

Misitano said the location, near other hospitals and “in the heart of the growing health care center of the Capitol region,” will enable PAM Health to work seamlessly with those hospitals in transitioning patients who require inpatient rehabilitation.

PAM Health provides specialty health care services through more than 70 long-term acute care hospitals and physical medicine and rehabilitation hospitals, as well as wound clinics and outpatient physical therapy locations, in 17 states.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

WellSpan opens first outpatient interventional radiology practice

York-based WellSpan Health has opened its first practice location to perform minimally invasive outpatient vascular procedures.

Under the direction of doctors Andrew Mullins and Aditya Sharma, WellSpan Cardiovascular Interventional Radiology is in the Patrick O’Donnell Pavilion on St. Paul Drive in Chambersburg.

It will offer full-service vein care, including evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. Procedures, performed when patients are awake, are minimally invasive and image-guided to diagnose and treat blood vessel and heart diseases without surgery.

“This practice is enhancing the way we care for our patients at WellSpan,” Niki Hinckle, vice president of service line development and diagnostic services, said in a release. “Thanks to advancements in technology and the use of it here at WellSpan, we are able to provide high-quality care for these services without admission to a hospital.”

Mullins added: “Doing this type of procedure outside of the hospital allows us to have better relationships with our patients. We can see them from the beginning for evaluation through follow-up.”

WellSpan plans to use this model to expanding similar services in other regions where it operates.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer.

Select Medical forming partnership to operate new hospital in Florida

Mechanicsburg-based Select Medical and ShorePoint Health Venice, a subsidiary of Community Health Systems, are forming a joint venture to operate a combined critical illness recovery (licensed as long-term care) and inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Venice, Florida.

Select Medical will be the majority owner and managing partner of the new facility, Select Specialty Hospital – Venice, which will be on the third and fourth floors of ShorePoint Health Venice.

The hospital will include 25 critical illness recovery beds, and 28 beds dedicated to inpatient rehabilitation. Renovation construction will begin this summer with an expected opening in the first quarter of next year.

“We look forward to partnering with ShorePoint Health Venice to address the growing need for specialty care among high-acuity patients in Venice and surrounding communities,” Tom Mullin, executive vice president of hospital operations at Select Medical, said in a release. “This joint venture also further expands Select Medical’s post-acute care footprint in Florida, which currently includes 12 Select Specialty critical illness recovery and two inpatient rehabilitation hospitals.”

As of March 31, Select Medical operated 105 critical illness recovery hospitals in 28 states, 30 rehabilitation hospitals in 12 states, and 1,901 outpatient rehabilitation clinics in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Its division Concentra operated 518 occupational health centers in 41 states.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer.

Workforce issues dominate conversation at annual hospital leadership summit 

Improving Pennsylvania’s health care workforce pipeline and the tools available to lessen the problem continue to be at the top of mind for the state’s health system leadership. 

The state’s hospital leaders met this week in Harrisburg for the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania’s Annual Leadership Summit. 

The summit marked the first time that the association’s members have sat together to discuss what they are doing since the last summit in 2019, said Andy Carter, Hospital Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) president and CEO. 

The summit spanned two days, with many of its topics centering around the workforce shortage, something Carter said is impacting all health care systems across the state in some way. 

“It is profound– we have high vacancy rates, and our hospitals are full,” he said, adding that the systems have been particularly focused on addressing shortages among nurses. “We cherish the work nurses do and we met to continue to identify strategies to retain existing nurses and create a pipeline for new nurses.” 

The Wolf Administration announced in March that it would be allocating $225 million to support Pennsylvania’s health care workforce needs of hospitals and behavioral health providers as part of Act 2 of 2022, signed into law in January. 

Summit speakers touched on a number of strategies that systems will need to look at as they tackle the problem of health care workforce shortages.  

Carter said the association and its membership are grateful for the funds but that providers now need to look toward long-term solutions. 

Solutions discussed at the summit included improving compensation among staff and in particular, understanding different generational needs among the nurse population. 

“Some are looking for a really good retirement plan because they are 55, others are looking for loan forgiveness because they are 22 and fresh out of an expensive nursing program,” said Carter. “They are working harder to customize for different needs and to organize shifts with a much keener eye to the preferences of the nursing professionals and other clinicians.” 

Carter also highlighted the workforce pipeline, noting that hospitals recognize that they will need to be creative in how they improve the pipeline by increasing access to more faculty and bettering nursing education programs. 

Behavioral Health 

Among workforce issues across hospitals, one of the more pressing issues lies in behavioral health, according to Carter. 

Some of HAP’s member hospitals are so strapped for behavioral health professionals that at any given time a hospital can have dozens of patients in its emergency department that no longer need emergency care but are suffering an acute mental health crisis. 

“These folks need specialized treatment in an inpatient or outpatient facility but there is no capacity,” said Carter. “They have to stay with us and that constrains our capacity. Right now we are essentially providing boarding services for them.” 

This month, HAP wrote on behalf of its more than 235 member organizations to the state’s elected leaders, asking them to approve an increase of state funding for county mental health programs by at least $28 million and facilitate placement in post-acute care settings by including an additional $13 million to county mental health funding. 

The letter also asked elected officials to require that Medicaid payment rates properly reflect the cost of complex cases, longer stays and resource-intensive treatments. 

Penn State Health takes advantage of its two Cumberland County hospitals 

Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center and Penn State Health Hampden Medical Center on its opening day last October. PHOTO/PROVIDED

In 2019, Penn State Health announced that it had signed a letter of intent with Danville-based Geisinger Health to purchase Geisinger Holy Spirit in East Pennsboro Township. 

Purchasing the hospital provided an interesting opportunity for the Hershey-based medical system, which had announced in 2018 that it would be building its Hampden Medical Center just five miles away from Holy Spirit. 

Penn State Health opened Hampden last October. The center features 110 private inpatient beds, an emergency department, physician offices and more. The facility cost the health system over $350 million to build. 

When Hampden opened, the newly named Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center had already operated under Penn State Health for nearly a year. 

The proximity of the two medical centers has made the system adopt a “two-hospital strategy” to ensure that it is utilizing the specialties of each hospital to its fullest. 

“When the opportunity came for us to bring Holy Spirit into our family at Penn State Health, we took a pause and said let’s inventory what our plan is and parlay that into what we do well at Holy Spirit,” said Don McKenna, West Shore regional hospital president at Penn State Health. “We really wanted to take advantage of the niche that each facility brings.” 

An early example of the strategy was the moving of Holy Spirit’s labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care (NICU) services to Hampden Medical Center.  

The physicians and nurse midwives that currently delivered babies at Holy Spirit, as well as the hospital’s neonatal care team all moved to Hampden upon its opening. That shift of services opened around 20 rooms in Holy Spirit for other uses.  

A key difference between the two hospitals, and one that the system has been very intentional about, is space. 

Hampden Medical Center was built to expand its footprint and sustain 250 beds while Holy Spirit’s footprint is tight in comparison, according to McKenna. 

“We have a growth plan and it’s the patients and the physicians that will determine that,” he said. “If they choose care here and we continue to grow, we will grow the facilities.” 

While Holy Spirit has less room to grow, the hospital’s nearly 60 years of service in East Pennsboro Township has refined several its services, which Penn State Health intends to continue to support. 

Holy Spirit boasts a level 2 adult trauma center, and more and more patients are coming to the center’s trauma center, said McKenna.  

Other specialties of the center include heart surgery thanks to the Ortenzio Heart Center located on Holy Spirit’s Campus, and neurosurgery. Penn State Health has provided neurosurgeons to the center even when it was owned by Geisinger. 

Penn State Health employs over 1600 people between the two hospitals alone. Almost every physician on staff is currently working at both hospitals. 

The two-hospital strategy also proves positive for leadership, seeing as though the system can have one leader oversee both facilities, be that in finance, HR or any of the medical specialties. 

“Having these hospitals nearby is a net win,” said McKenna. “We can share HR, technology and clinical specialties and we have two emergency rooms we can access. As a patient, I can be cared for faster, by the same system and have access to the same specialists.” 

Penn State Health did not plan Hampden Medical Center with the intention that it would have another hospital in its portfolio down the street. For McKenna, that timing couldn’t have been more perfect. 

“Sometimes you create an opportunity and sometimes that opportunity presents itself,” he said.  

A key tenant of Penn State Health’s expansion in recent years has been the system’s “10, 20, 30” initiative.  

The system aims to have patients be zero minutes from telehealth services, 10 minutes from a primary care provider, 20 minutes from a specialty care provider and 30 minutes from a Penn State Health hospital. 

McKenna said that this strategy allows the system to have “systemness” to take advantage of not just the two nearby hospitals in Cumberland County but the entire Penn State Health system. 

“We can take care of [an infant or a premature infant] in Hampden at our NICU, or if there is a 28 week-old baby that is so tiny they have to be in a super specialized site like in Hershey, it’s all here and we can think about that continuum,” said McKenna. “Most hospitals don’t have all of that in a local area. They are spread out and don’t have that advantage we have it’s because Penn State Health built it that way.” 

Lebanon Valley College to break ground on new building

a rendering of Lebanon Valley College’s new Nursing & Interdisciplinary Health Education Facility. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Lebanon Valley College will break ground Friday on its new Nursing & Interdisciplinary Health Education Facility.

The college’s newest undergraduate major, nursing will enroll its first cohort of students this fall. The Nursing & Interdisciplinary Health Education Facility will house the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, with an anticipated summer 2023 completion date.

Government officials will join members of the board of trustees; faculty; staff; and students for the groundbreaking.

LVC was approved for $2.7 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program money from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and $1 million in Community Project Funding from the federal government, a release said.

Fundraising continues for the project.

Architects Noelker and Hull Associates Inc., Chambersburg, were hired to design the new academic building, next to the Jeanne and Edward H. Arnold Health Professions Pavilion. Pyramid Construction, Lemoyne, is the general contractor.

The 37,000-square-foot facility will contain five simulation labs; two skills labs with associated exam spaces; three classrooms; a wet lab; a home health simulation area; meeting rooms; study areas; and support spaces. Faculty areas include private and open offices for more than 14 faculty and staff.

University of Maryland Medical System senior VP joins UPMC 


A former University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) senior vice president will be taking over as president of UPMC’s PinnacleHealth Medical Group. 

Dr. Jason Marx, previously senior vice president of physician integration and value-based care and chief of the UMMS critical care COVID-19 operations, will succeed Dr. Robert Nielson following his retirement on Thursday. 

Marx served as the inaugural chair of the UMMS physician network management committee. He is also an adjunct assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. 

“With more than 20 years of progressive clinical and operational leadership at the University of Maryland Medical System and St. Joseph Medical Center, Dr. Marx brings a wealth of expertise to this role,” said Phil Guarneschelli, president, UPMC in Central Pa. 

Nielson leaves UPMC on March 31. He joined the system in 2015 after it acquired his practice, Annville Family Medicine. 

Nielsen joined the PinnacleHealth Medical Group as head of population health and became the area’s director in June 2016. 

“We are excited for Dr. Nielsen as he moves on to this new chapter of his life, but he will be deeply missed as a colleague, friend, and major contributor to the health and well-being of our region,” said Guarneschelli. 

Health and wellness top of mind for shoppers, says NPD

— It’s not all that shocking to note that over the course of the pandemic consumers focused more intensely on health and wellness. However, what is surprising is the fact that nearly two years after the pandemic hit the U.S., retail sales of products in health and wellness categories continue to match peak growth rates, according to the NPD Group.

“Comparisons to 2020 show that revenue growth of health and wellness categories slowed in 2021 but that’s just part of the story,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor for NPD. “Retail sales revenue from those same categories, compared to 2019, have continued to grow by double-digits. This growth seems to indicate that health and wellness is an enduring pandemic trend, which could provide opportunities for continued consumer spending.”

The general consumer focus on health encompasses the mind, body, and home, and is evident in the many industries exhibiting growth: from food and apparel to books and beauty. Leading the way are air purifier filters, massaging appliances, free-weight equipment and sound machines. Sales revenue in each of these categories more than doubled in 2021, versus 2019. Many categories related to cleaning, fitness, and food preparation, storage, and preservation continued to grow by double digits last year, as did books about home, gardening, crafts, hobbies, self-help and cooking.

“As consumers get out into the world and start to spend more on vacations and other experiences, health and wellness is likely to continue to play a role in their lives,” Cohen said. “Now it’s time for retailers and manufacturers to not only retain, but also generate new consumer attention, in a retail landscape where competition for the shopper’s share of wallet will soon expand.”

Penn State Health adds physician leader for cancer services 


Penn State Health appointed Dr. Marc Rovito to vice president and physician leader for cancer services, a newly created position that’s part of the health system’s effort to deliver coordinated cancer care across its hospitals and outpatient locations.

He and Ethel Randall, administrative vice president of the cancer service line, will make decisions about capital investments in equipment and facilities, recruitment and retention of staff, and deployment of cancer care resources throughout Penn State Health’s service area. 

Rovito was most recently St. Joseph Medical Center’s interim vice president of medical affairs, joining the hospital in 2011.

He has served as St. Joseph Cancer Center medical director and cancer liaison physician, leading accreditation initiatives for the cancer care programs and overseeing a $5.5 million addition to the cancer center. 

“Marc is well positioned to lead this exciting transformation of our clinical cancer care processes given his combined experience in academic, community and private practice settings,” Dr. Peter Dillon, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Penn State Health, said in a release. 

Board certified in medical oncology, Rovito is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine’s Division of Hematology and Oncology at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Cancer Institute. 

WellSpan Health names new president of Good Samaritan 


Lebanon-based WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital’s vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer will be leading the hospital as its president starting Feb. 6. 

WellSpan Health announced this week that Patty Donley will take on the role of vice president for the health system and president of WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital. 

Donley has served as vice president of patient care service and chief nursing officer at the hospital since 2017. 

“Patty Donley brings the ideal background, experience and skills to this leadership position,” said Carrie Willetts, senior vice president of WellSpan Health’s East Region. “Having been with WellSpan for 28 years, she has a familiarity and understanding of the importance in cultivating a strong culture of engagement and pride amongst our team members that will ultimately help shape the care and experience we provide for our patients.” 

Donley will be responsible for the day-to-day operating activities and will oversee the performance improvement and patient experience initiatives of the 170-bed acute care hospital. She will also serve as the executive leader for WellSpan’s system of care in Lebanon County.  

“Good Samaritan has been the health care provider for Lebanon County for more than 130 years and I believe that deeply rooted community connection is extremely important,” Donley said. “I’m looking forward in continuing to serve this great community in a new capacity and also work to ensure we create a truly exceptional patient experiences for all who come through our doors.” 

Donley succeeds Tom Harlow as president of the hospital, who retires this month. 

Penn State Health hires former Tower Health VP to help lead Lancaster Medical Center 

Barbara Zuppa

Reading-based Tower Health’s former vice president for nursing operations joins Penn State Health as the new chief nursing officer for the Hershey-based health system’s upcoming Lancaster Medical Center on Jan. 17. 

Penn State Health announced on Tuesday that Barbara Zuppa will be heading the nursing practice and administrative, operational and financial functions of nursing and clinical areas for the Lancaster Medical Center, opening at 2160 State Road later this year.  

“We are excited that Barbara will be joining our executive team,” said Joe Frank, regional president, Penn State Health. “She is an experienced nurse executive with a passion for excellence and a strong record of improving clinical quality and enhancing patient experience. We are confident she will provide valuable leadership to our nursing teams at the new hospital that we are building to give residents of Lancaster County and surrounding communities easier access to Penn State Health’s brand of care.” 

As vice president for nursing operations at Tower Health, Zuppa provided vision and strategic direction for nursing services.  

During her tenure at the system, Zuppa partnered with the United Way of Berks County and the Reading School District to establish an adopt-a-class program that annually provides school supplies for more than 120 teachers and classes and supplies for school nurses to address student health needs. She partnered with Healthy Harvest regional fresh food bank to implement a “pound per person” challenge that provides more than 8,000 pounds of food donations annually.  

Zuppa also co-founded the Berks Regional Nursing Research Alliance, a community-based consortium with representation from hospital, academic, professional organizational and community nursing entities. 

Lancaster Medical Center is set to open with 129 beds upon opening in East Hempfield Township in late 2022 and will employ nearly 900 health care workers when fully operational. The center will feature an emergency department, specialty medical and surgical services, an imaging lab, labor and delivery and an attached medical office building for physician practices and outpatient services. 


Pa. Dept. of Health acting secretary to step down in January


 Alison Beam, acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, will resign at the end of the year. She is expected to be replaced by Executive Deputy Secretary Keara Klinepeter. 

The change was announced by Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday. 

Beam, who previously served Wolf’s deputy chief of staff, took the role of acting secretary following the departure of Rachel Levine earlier this year. 

“I am proud to have worked with Acting Secretary Beam over the past several years, and the commonwealth has been fortunate to have had the benefit of her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic – especially as the Department of Health oversaw a massive vaccine roll-out over the course of the past year,” said Wolf.  

During her tenure with the Wolf Administration, Beam helped coordinate the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response, the rollout of state health insurance marketplace, known as Pennie, and the administration’s health care reform plan. 

“Serving as acting secretary during such a critical time in public health has been the most humbling honor of my career,” said Beam. “Under the governor’s leadership the administration has made critical strides in ensuring access to health care for all Pennsylvanians and in turn created a healthier, more equitable commonwealth for generations to come.” 

Wolf said he plans to name Klinepeter to the role in January. 

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the tremendous employees at the Department of Health and ensuring public health remains a top priority throughout the commonwealth,” said Klinepeter. “I am honored for the opportunity to lead public health efforts during this critical time and to serve my fellow Pennsylvanians.”