LG Health opens outpatient center in Clay Township 

Penn Medicine LGH Lincoln providers: Dr. Jonathan Musyt; Dr. James Kelly; Dr. Ashley Kempsell; Dr. Nicole Zimmerman; Dr. Curtis Hershey; Jessica Gillis, CRNP; and Alexandre Katos, PA-C. Karen N. Reeser, CRNP, is not pictured.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health’s new 15,500-square-foot outpatient center, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Lincoln, opened in Clay Township, Lancaster County on Monday. 

The outpatient center is the newest location for LG Health Physicians Family Medicine Lincoln, which will be close its office at 1635 W. Main St., Ephrata as part of the move. The center features new outpatient services including laboratory testing and physical therapy. 

Family Medicine Lincoln opened 15 years ago and currently employs five physicians and three advanced practice providers. The practice is set to operate from both General Health Lincoln as well as an office at 1261 Division Highway. 

“We are very pleased to open this expanded new location to offer convenient, comprehensive care and additional services for our patients,” said Dr. James Kelly, regional medical director and Family Medicine Lincoln co-founder. “The new location is twice the size as Family Medicine Lincoln’s 1635 W. Main St. facility with 18 patient rooms and expanded registration and waiting areas.  

Laboratory testing, EKG and physical therapy services are expected to open at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Lincoln on Oct. 11.  

PA Health Dept. says Pfizer COVID boosters are available for those eligible


A booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will soon be available for certain adults who received the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago, including residents in long-term care settings.

The state Department of Health announced on Monday that it will immediately make the booster available for eligible Pennsylvanians after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the Pfizer COVID-19 booster for certain adults.

The CDC currently recommends the booster for people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings, anyone over the age of 18 with underlying medical conditions and anyone at risk for COVID-19 exposure.

“Vaccine providers in Pennsylvania are ready to administer a booster dose of Pfizer to folks who are eligible and already fully vaccinated with Pfizer,” said Alison Beam, acting Secretary of Health. “While COVID-19 cases are increasing across the commonwealth, it is vitally important that individuals understand that the vaccine continues to be highly effective against severe illness from the COVID-19 virus – including the highly transmissive Delta variant. People who are eligible to receive a booster dose of Pfizer will benefit from additional protection.”

Last week, Beam signed an order to ensure that vaccine providers were prepared to start scheduling COVID-19 booster shots following CDC’s authorization.

“Please await further public health guidance regarding booster doses for individuals who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines for their primary series,” Beam said. “In addition to being ready for boosters, providers continue to administer first and second vaccinations to Pennsylvanians every day. Being fully vaccinated provides the best protection against COVID-19 for you, your loved ones and your neighbors.”

WellSpan Health names Brister as chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer 

Kimberly Brister. PHOTO PROVIDED.


WellSpan Health’s senior director of talent acquisition, diversity and inclusion will lead the York-based system’s efforts to build its workforce diversity and inclusivity as its first ever chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. 

Kimberly Brister previously led the system’s diversity and inclusion efforts along with her talent acquisition role. She will now do so as vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, WellSpan announced on Tuesday. 

In the new role, Brister will focus 100% of her capacity on advancing WellSpan’s efforts to build a diverse workforce and strengthen its inclusive culture, the system wrote in a press release. 

Kim has been instrumental in strengthening and representing WellSpan’s position and response to issues of discrimination, bias and racism in our institutions and communities,” said Dr. Roxanna Gapstur, president and CEO of WellSpan Health. “And she is the dynamic leader needed to guide our continued focus on recognizing and appreciating our unique differences as individuals, and advance a culture where every person feels respected, included and valued.” 

Brister has a Master of Business Administration in healthcare administration from the University of Phoenix and earned her Diversity & Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University. 

Brister was one of this year’s recipients of the Central Penn Business Journal 2021 Women of Influence Awards. She also received the York County Economic Alliance’s Diversity Impact Award for her efforts on the Confronting Racism Coalition.  

Brister has held numerous roles at WellSpan Health for over 15 years, including director of talent acquisition and human resources manager. She has led the system’s diversity and inclusion strategy since 2019. 

“At WellSpan our mission is to provide exceptional care for all and to do that we must understand and respect the differences of everyone in our care,” Brister said. “We gain strength when our diverse workforce is empowered to serve our diverse community, and it all starts when an organization creates a place where everyone feels safe to share ideas that reflect their unique experiences.” 

Penn State Health to acquire Camp Hill EMS 

Camp Hill EMS is set to join Penn State Health Life Lion this fall as part of an agreement by Camp Hill Fire Company and Penn State Health.

The agreement will give the Cumberland County-based emergency medical services provider enhanced access to Penn State Health’s emergency and non-emergency care, including Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center and Penn State Health Hampden Medical Center.

“Working with Penn State Health will provide enhancements to our EMS system that will, in turn, enhance patient care,” said Camp Hill Mayor Mark Simpson. “Our shared values of timely and compassionate care will make the transition easy.”

The acquisition is part of an effort by the Hershey-based health care system to expand its emergency medical services by hiring additional EMTs and paramedics throughout the midstate.

Camp Hill EMS will continue to house an EMS unit at Camp Hill Fire Company but its four full-time and 15 part-time employees will become Penn State Health Employees.

“Camp Hill EMS has been a partner to us for many years and now we are excited to have them join our EMS family. This will ensure the citizens of Camp Hill Borough and surrounding municipalities will continue to receive high quality prehospital care,” said Scott Buchle, director of Penn State Health Life Lion.

WellSpan Health leader joins Traditions Bank’s board

Roxanna Gapstur. PHOTO PROVIDED.

WellSpan Health president and CEO Dr. Roxanna Gapstur will join York-based Traditions Bank’s Board of Directors and the board of Traditions Bancorp on Wednesday. 

Gapstur has led the York-based health system since moving to the region in early 2019. She has more than 25 years of health care leadership experience in group practice, academic and integrated health care systems. 

“We are honored to have Dr. Gapstur become part of our leadership. She is an innovative thinker with a demonstrated track record of driving growth and transformation through strategic planning, business development, and operational excellence,” said Eugene Draganosky, president and CEO of Traditions Bank. “In addition to the depth of her experiences, her alignment with many of the bank’s key target markets makes her an outstanding fit for our organization.” 

Traditions Bank opened in 2002 and currently has more than $700 million in assets. The bank operates seven branches throughout York and Lancaster counties and a loan production office in Cumberland County. 

Along with the announcement of Gapstur’s inclusion on the board, Traditions also announced a series of promotions for bank associates this week. 

Suzanne Becker, director of Marketing and Communications at Traditions, was promoted to executive administrative officer and assistant corporate secretary. 

As part of the role, Becker will oversee corporate communications, investor relations, office management, governance support and more. 

Director of Information Technology, Joseph Lombardi, will be taking over the role of chief technology officer. He has more than 25 years of experience in the IT field. 

Justin Mann, the company’s treasurer, will take on the additional role of managing director, managing financial risks for the company including liquidity, interest rate risk and capital. 

“Well-deserved congratulations are in order for all three of these capable leaders,” said Draganosky. “Their expertise, ongoing development, performance, and proven commitment to our core values make them uniquely qualified to serve alongside our other leadership. This is an important milestone for each of them and for our organization as we plan for future growth and succession.” 

WellSpan Health and Gateway health announce value-based partnership

WellSpan Health is partnering with Pittsburgh-based managed care organization Gateway Health Plan in a move the two organizations say will lower health care costs for Gateway’s 24,000 Medicaid members living in South Central Pennsylvania.

Gateway and York-based WellSpan announced this week that they entered a value-based partnership agreement that will allow the two entities to utilize data insights to improve the health outcomes for WellSpan patients with Medicaid through Gateway.

The agreement will also let WellSpan lower health care costs for Gateway’s Medicaid members through value-based programs where it will receive incentives for meeting health care quality and cost-reduction targets.

“Gateway Health is proud to partner with WellSpan to provide our Medicaid members with enhanced value-based care that they can really count on,” said Ellen Duffield, COO at Gateway Health. “We are committed to connecting our members to the type of care they need to live healthier lives and achieve not just physical health, but whole life health.”

The two organizations intend to proactively contact Gateway’s Medicaid members without a primary care provider and address their barriers to care to help avoid costly emergency department visits in the future, WellSpan wrote in a press release on Thursday.

“A key driver in growing our relationship with Gateway Health is learning more about the most effective ways to provide care to patients that promotes lifelong wellness,” said Dr. Geoff Nicholson, Jr., senior vice president of population health at WellSpan. “Together, we can keep patients healthier and strive for a shared vision of higher quality care at lower costs.”

Hershey Med hires senior vice president and chief nursing officer


Michele Szkolnicki. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s vice president of nursing, acute and ambulatory care will be taking on a new role as the Hershey-based hospital’s senior vice president and chief nursing officer.

Michele Szkolnicki has held her current role at the hospital for a year and will be switching gears to take over for senior vice president and chief nursing officer Judy Himes, who retires in September.

Prior to joining Penn State Health, Szkolnicki was COO of Crozer Keystone Health Access Network in Delaware County She has also held numerous health care and nursing leadership roles, including chief nursing officer and senior vice president of Patient Care Services for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and chief operating officer for Drexel University Physicians.

“Michele cares deeply about nursing and searching for new and innovative ways to support nurses as they care for our patients,” said Deborah Berini, president of Hershey Medical Center. “I am looking forward to working with her to continue developing our nursing workforce and improving the work environment.”

Szkolnicki holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Neumann University and a master’s degree in education from St. Joseph’s University. She is board-certified as a fellow in the American College of HealthCare Executives and is a certified medical practice executive with the Medical Group Management Association.


PA College of Health Sciences adds new nursing education certificate program


In an effort to tackle a nationwide nurse educator shortage, PA College of Health Sciences announced a new Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education starting this fall.

The Lancaster educational institution is set to offer a new one-year, 15-credit course designed for nurses who already hold a Master of Science in Nursing.

The new program looks to address an ongoing national shortage of nurse educators. More than 80,000 qualified applicants are being turned away from nursing schools annually because of a lack of instructors, according to the American Association of College of Nursing.

“Whether working in the academic setting to prepare the next generation of nurses, or serving in a clinical role to share the latest advances of the profession, nurse educators are an essential part of the health care landscape,” said Dr. Rita Wise, program director of Master’s in Nursing Administration and Master’s of Nursing Education programs. “This new program at PA College helps meet the rapidly growing demand for nurse leaders.”

Students in the program learn curriculum design, teaching strategies and assessment. The program also includes a doctoral-level course, offering a stepping stone to pursue a doctorate.

“PA College is excited to launch this new program for our students. We recognize the importance and responsibility for helping students develop as nurses, while integrating the values and behaviors expected of those who fulfill that role,” said Dr. Cheryl Grab, Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences’ Dean of Nursing.

Penn State Health moves West Shore pediatric care to new facility, plans to add services

Monday, July 12, 2021 marked the opening of Penn State Health Medical Group – Upper Allen. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Penn State Health’s outpatient pediatric primary care facility in Upper Allen Township, Cumberland County, completed a move to a new 7,500-square-foot location.

Penn State Health Medical Group — Upper Allen opened this week in a move that the Hershey-based health system says will expand access to pediatric primary care on the West Shore.

The new facility near the intersection of South Market Street and Gettysburg Pike, includes an initial team of four pediatric care providers and about a dozen support staff. Penn State officials say the added space will allow it to expand into family and sports medicine in the coming weeks.

“Our goal is to ensure our patients have access to Penn State Health’s providers close to home,” said Jeanette Gibbs, senior vice president for ambulatory services at Penn State Health. “This new outpatient location marks another way we are bringing our care to where it’s most convenient for the communities we serve.”

The expansion is part of a broader effort by the health system to grow its footprint on the West Shore, which includes its November 2020 acquisition of Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center and the construction of Penn State Health Hampden Medical Center, scheduled to open in October.

Midstate hospitals had to build their coronavirus plans on the fly

No COVID-19 playbook was sitting on Pennsylvania’s hospital leaders’ shelves when cases began to spread into the Commonwealth last year. It had to be built through collaboration between hospitals and first-hand experience.

The most cases of coronavirus in the midstate arrived near the end of the year but hospitals in the region had been learning, preparing and treating for the virus for months at that point. Today, those systems are in a very different place than they were in March 2020.

“It’s hard to believe that a year ago the virus was just arriving in our region,” said Lou Baverso, COO at UPMC Pinnacle and president of the Central Region. “It seems like much more time has passed, as we’ve come so far since then. We have learned so much about this virus, yet there’s still so much we continue to discover.”

UPMC had already prepared for a crisis like the pandemic with an expansive contingency plan so, during the pandemic, its hospitals were prepared to lower exposure among staff and patients and allow for continued access of care, he said.

York-based WellSpan Health’s leadership kept a close eye on the virus and first began tracking the pandemic early last year. Anticipating that the Novel Coronavirus would be reaching Pennsylvania, WellSpan created a supply chain command center to monitor potential impacts on the system’s personal protective equipment (PPE).

“In early March, we went to full command center mode and immediately knew our communities could be vulnerable to a significant risk if the virus began to spread,” said Dr. Roxanna Gapstur, president and CEO of WellSpan.

The learning curve

Hospitals had a difficult road ahead of them early on. It took weeks to fully understand that someone with a loss of taste or smell, or with flu-like symptoms all could have COVID-19, said Jan Bergen, former president and CEO of Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health.

“The first part of our work was to become better educated and informed about what someone may look like that is presenting with COVID-19,” she said. “There was a lot of collaboration among the systems within the county to share info with one another.”

At Penn State Health, dozens of Milton S. Hershey Medical Center workers already had special pathogens training thanks to the Hershey-based system’s designation as an Ebola Treatment Center in 2015. Dr. Peter Dillon, chief clinical officer at Penn State Health, said there was still much information for the system to learn about caring for COVID-19 patients.

“The special pathogens training included best practices for keeping equipment sterilized and protecting patients and themselves from deadly germs,” he said. “While that work was certainly applicable to our organization’s response to COVID-19, the pandemic also required some specific adaptations”

Organizations like Penn State Health took advantage of their expansive buying power to develop relationships with supply chains and keep a steady flow of PPE coming into their facilities. Dillon said that the system not only formed partnerships with its supply chain, but partnered with its colleagues at Penn State to design and 3D print PPE.

WellSpan was prepared regarding infrastructure in its supply chain, finance, communications, philanthropy and human resources, said Gapstur. Where the system was unable to secure PPE, it created its own supply chain by working with York County manufacturers.

WellSpan’s largest vulnerability was its rapid growth over the past seven years, said Gapstur.

“We were still in the process of integrating some of the new partnerships,” she said, adding that her team swiftly realized it would need a system-wide incident command structure rather than allow each hospital to address its own needs.

Telehealth flourishes

Health systems and their providers had to resort to mostly telehealth services last spring as quarantining kept patients from coming in for exams, unless their symptoms were severe enough to warrant it. This was compounded by the fact that hospitals were unable to offer non-emergent services from March to June.

By the summer, hospitals began reopening their services and saw fewer cases after a peak in April. But the reduction didn’t last as infections increased in the fall.

Lancaster General Health saw a peak of 160 inpatients with COVID-19 in the late fall and Penn State Health saw 230 patients between Holy Spirit Medical center, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and St. Joseph Medical Center on Dec 29

“In all the communities UPMC serves, COVID-19 cases were relatively low through the first half of 2020, but numbers drastically spiked in November and December,” said Baverso. “The ebb and flow of COVID-19 cases made constant communication with the public essential, as guidance changed almost daily.”

Early 2021 marked a decrease in cases, and by then midstate hospital systems were well into the next chapter of the pandemic– getting vaccinations to the community. By late March, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health had fully vaccinated 60,000 people and partially vaccinated 51,000. Across all of its hospitals, UPMC had administered more than 297,000 doses as of March 26 and WellSpan provided more than 177,000. By early April, Penn State Health had administered more than 100,000 doses from four dedicated vaccination sites as well as a series of pop-up vaccination clinics for underserved populations in Harrisburg, Lancaster and Reading.

Test of leadership

The past year acted as a test on all leadership teams but for health systems providing care for their communities while looking to protect their staff, 2020 was particularly taxing.

But despite the unprecedented nature of the crisis, Dillon said it’s up to systems to continue to provide care to their communities, even more so after many patients delayed their care for routine checkups and other health conditions.

“We have a responsibility to be in touch with the psychological and emotional well-being of our communities and that has never been more apparent than this past year,” said Bergen.

Baverso highlighted the need for constant, clear and adaptable communication, adding that it was crucial for UPMC to always be in touch with the community, providers and employees when new information was available.

“The adversity of the pandemic is not yet over – but the glimmer of recovery is within our reach,” said Gapstur. “Our gratitude shines for the many team members who walked as a trusted partner alongside our communities.”


Biden nominates Pa. Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine for position in his administration

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

Levine was appointed to her current role by Governor Tom Wolf in 2017. During her tenure, she has helped the state navigate the opioid crisis, manage a growing medical marijuana industry and lead its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Levine would be the first transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

“Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Biden said in a statement to the Associated Press. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

Levine was not immediately available to comment on the nomination or how her acceptance of the role would impact the Department of Health. This is a developing story.

Chicago cannabis company opens first Pa. dispensary in Harrisburg

Zen Leaf Harrisburg is located at 137 S. 17th St. PHOTO PROVIDE

Chicago-based cannabis company Verano opened its first of three Pennsylvania medical marijuana dispensaries in Harrisburg on Wednesday with dispensaries in Altoona and York coming soon.

Verano’s Zen Leaf Harrisburg, a medical marijuana dispensary offering cannabis products such as concentrates, vaporizers and flower, opened today in Allison Hill.

Verano has 18 active retail locations in 12 U.S. states. The new dispensary is the multi-state cannabis operator’s first in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania currently allows 50 medical marijuana dispensary retail licenses at any given time with each licensee able to open three facilities. Along with the Harrisburg location, Verano will be opening Zen Leafs in York this month and Altoona in January.

“We’re excited about our Pennsylvania debut, bringing the Zen Leaf dispensary experience to a new and thriving medical market,” said George Archos, founder and CEO of Verano. “While we introduce our brand to the patients around Harrisburg, we are equally eager to create new employment opportunities and to help support the community around us.”

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program currently serves over 330,000 registered patients with approximately 90 to 100 dispensaries currently open to medical marijuana license holders.

Archos said that Verano is grateful to join the state’s emerging cannabis market, which it sees as having a great deal of momentum.

“Our goal is to eventually reach and assist as many Pennsylvanians as possible, and to establish ourselves as a household name among medical cannabis patients there,” he said.
The new Zen Leaf is located at 137 S. 17th St. in Harrisburg.