Hershey Pediatric Center joins UPMC 

Hershey Pediatric Center will join UPMC as UPMC Hershey Pediatric Center on Sept.1.

The Pittsburg-based hospital system announced this week that Hershey Pediatric Center will be joining its expanding network of midstate pediatric services under the UPMC name.

Hershey Pediatric Center’s providers specialize in health care for children and adolescents from birth to age 21. They provide prenatal and well-childcare, sick visits, injury visits, vaccinations and more.

“Hershey Pediatric Center has provided a full spectrum top quality and convenient child and adolescent care for decades. We are pleased to welcome these compassionate and skilled specialists to our UPMC network,” said Philip Guarneschelli, president, UPMC in Central Pa.

The practice’s providers join a series of UPMC pediatric services in the region including: UPMC Children’s Harrisburg, Specialty Services, Community Pediatrics and Express Care.

Hershey Pediatric Center’s provider and transitioning staff will become UPMC employees on Sept. 1. The system said it expects no changes to occur for existing and new patients who have an appointment with the practice.

“Our team and UPMC share a dedication to providing area families with patient-centered, quality care,” said Dr. Glen Bartlett, a provider with Hershey Pediatric Center. “By joining UPMC, we can provide additional services to patients through advanced technology, increased comprehensive care for chronic and acute illnesses, additional specialists, and access to health education programs, and other services.”

Penn State Health to begin construction on new Lancaster County pediatric outpatient center

A rendering of Penn State Health Lancaster Pediatric Center. The facility is planned to open in Manheim Township, Lancaster County next year. PHOTO PROVIDED


Penn State Health plans to open a new pediatric outpatient center in Manheim Township, Lancaster County next spring.

The Hershey-based health system announced on Tuesday that it will soon begin construction on its new 47,000-square-foot Penn State Health Lancaster Pediatric Center.

The center is an expansion of the system’s Penn State Children’s Hospital and will offer area residents high-level pediatric care in a center designed and dedicated to children, Penn State Health said in its announcement.

“Penn State Health is committed to bringing our primary and specialty care to where it’s convenient for our patients and their families,” said Steve Massini, CEO of Penn State Health. “Having a dedicated outpatient center for pediatrics in Lancaster will help reduce stress and travel time for those families that need this specialty care.”

Construction on the project is expected to begin this spring with the buildout of 30,000 square feet of medical space that will house pediatric medical and surgical specialties and outpatient services.

The center will be located at the intersection of Harrisburg Pike and Route 30 in Manheim Township, the site of a former Toys “R” Us location.

High Construction Company will oversee the construction of the project.

UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg opens new pediatric unit

UPMC Pinnacle officially opened its new pediatric inpatient unit at UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg last week.

The Harrisburg-based health system announced early last month that it would be investing $17 million to expand its current inpatient pediatric care offerings on the hospital’s ninth floor to an entire children’s inpatient unit.

The system announced on Tuesday that it completed the first phase of the new unit, totaling $12 million. The new pediatric inpatient unit includes 11 new, private rooms designed to allow patients to stay in one room during their entire stay.

As part of the new project, pediatric patients will also receive telecare from specialists at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“Since Pinnacle hospitals were merged into the UPMC network in 2017, UPMC has invested $910 million to the hospitals to elevate the level of care we provide,” said Philip Guarneschelli, president of UPMC Pinnacle. “This re-investment, including our new $12 million UPMC Children’s Harrisburg, represents UPMC’s commitment to offering world-class care to the people of south central Pennsylvania.”

Dr. Chris Mmuo, vice chairman of pediatrics and director of the pediatric hospitalist program at UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg, said that the 11 new private rooms will allow the entire patient stay to be more consistent since the patient will have the same care team from start to finish.

“Seeing the same providers, nurses, and support staff each day builds trust and improves outcomes” said Mmuo. “Each room is also equipped with all the technology needed to provide care at the bedside.”

Along with the new unit, UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg now offers real-time consultations with more than 400 specialty care providers and access to board-certified pediatric emergency medicine physicians at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

The additional contact with UPMC physicians will allow the new unit to provide enhanced pediatric care 24/7, according to Mark Sevco, president of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“Through this affiliation with UPMC Children’s, we will bring unmatched pediatric expertise to children with acute illnesses and injuries in south central PA and other areas throughout the region,” Sevco said.

UPMC Pinnacle welcomed its first young patient to the unit on Nov. 9.

Penn State Health finishes expansion to children’s hospital


Seven years after opening Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Penn State Health finished a three-floor expansion to the hospital to better meet a growing need across the midstate for pediatric care.

The Hershey-based health system first announced that it would be expanding its children’s hospital by 126,000-square-feet in early 2018 and started work on the project in spring of that year.

The $148 million project is set to open next month and adds a Women and Babies Center, a Labor and Delivery Unit and a 56-bed Level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The expansion also includes the state’s first Small Baby Unit, according to the system. The unit is designed specifically for the growth and improved brain development in premature babies.

Even with a short pause in construction and added social distancing regulations for the system’s construction team, the project has not experienced any delays and will still open in November as planned, said Deborah Berini, president of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

“Over the last 50 years, our pioneering leaders and highly skilled teams have continually enhanced the quality of pediatric care,” said Berini. “Today, we celebrate our tremendous growth and look forward to many more years of improving the health of our youngest patients and their families.”

The expansion is a direct response to growing patient volumes at the children’s hospital. Along with the additional beds, the new space allowed the system to hire not only additional staff and physicians, but also pharmacists, environmental health services workers, respiratory therapists and child life specialists, according to Berini.

The new Women and Babies Center will double the number of labor and delivery rooms available and will provide pre-op holding areas and post-op recovery areas for mothers undergoing c-sections or obstetric procedures.

Prior to the new expansion, the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Women and Babies Center and Labor and Delivery Unit were all still located in Hershey Medical Center.

While leadership knew that it would eventually move the facilities into the children’s hospital, the system was not yet ready to move the unit in 2013, said Dr. Sarah Iriana, interim chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the children’s hospital.

With no children’s services left at Hershey Medical Center, parents, nurses and doctors will be able to move between units with much more ease.

Dr. Richard Legro, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology used the example of a mother being able to move from her room to the NICU unit using a private elevator when she would previously need to go next door to Hershey Medical Center to the seventh floor.

“The Labor and Delivery Unit and NICU are contiguous,” Legro said. “We considered every detail so that our moms and tiniest patients have the most comforting amenities to deliver, recover and grow, and that families can remain together.”

Moving out of the seventh floor of the medical center will allow Penn State Health to convert the floor into an adult Medical Intensive Care Unit, expanding the system’s inpatient capacity.

Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development relies on telemedicine, donations to protect young clients

Brooks Waller, 6, a preschool student at Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development, reacts to one of the online lessons provided by Jay Graver, Schreiber’s preschool director. Brooks was among the children able to receive telehealth services  from Schreiber. PHOTO PROVIDED.

While working with only a fraction of its young clients in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development has seen a drastic increase in telemedicine visits and donations.

The East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County-based pediatric physical therapy center has greatly decreased its in-patient visits as it looks to protect its patient population, many of whom are immunocompromised or could have complications from contracting COVID-19.

Schreiber recently reopened its doors for in-person visits in mid-May, but is only seeing approximately two clients an hour in each of its three departments compared to more than 14 an hour in each department before the virus, according to James DeBord, Schreiber’s president.

“My primary responsibility is the 4,000 kids we serve, and about 70% have some underlying health issue that would make them either immunocompromised or more likely to have complications from COVID,” he said.

While Schreiber remained open as an essential services provider during Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order, Schreiber was forced to scale back operations because cancellation rates reached nearly 80 percent. It furloughed a third of its workforce, but has brought back 72 of its 78 employees thanks to help from PPP funding from the state.

Schreiber provides physical, occupational and speech therapy services to kids with disabilities, developmental delays and injuries. The center primarily receives payments through Medicaid reimbursements, which are historically low for child therapy services Schreiber loses an average $65 for every hour of service it provides to clients.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a series of regulatory rollbacks that would allow more health care providers to receive reimbursements for telemedicine services to keep clients from contacting COVID-19 through visits with their providers.

Schreiber has taken advantage of the telemedicine rollout and is currently providing services for about 40% of its patient population through video visits with therapists, said DeBord.

“(The rule change) allowed for a decent percentage of clients to be seen via telehealth–that was a game changer,” he said. “Speech therapy works well with telehealth, but with physical therapy, you can’t take a child that needs to be supported in a harness and have them take their first steps on a treadmill while a therapist talks them through it.”

Increases in donations from the community also helped the center continue providing for its clients. During a period from February to May last year, Schreiber earned $675,002 in donations from general contributions and fundraisers.

For the same four-month period this year, Schreiber was able to bring in $687,279 in donations. DeBord said he hopes the fundraising continues to grow with the help of a $250,000 matching grant promised to the center this month by the Harrisburg-based Stabler Foundation.

Schreiber will be holding its 32nd Annual Rubber Duckie Race fundraiser in September to raise funds for the clinic. All donations made to the event will be doubled thanks to Stabler’s matching grant.

The center is expected to continue to maintain low numbers of in-person visits and high percentages of telehealth visits until there is a widely distributed vaccine, according to DeBord.

“Our parents aren’t willing to take that chance and I can’t blame them,” he said. “Until people are comfortable that this is something like the flu or mumps, where contracting is nil, I don’t see that changing.”

Schreiber Center will need ‘significant community support’ to stay open

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

Relying on Medicaid reimbursements and fundraising to keep the lights on, Lancaster County-based Schreiber Center for Pediatrics has a difficult path ahead of it, depending on when it can reopen to patients.

The East Hempfield Township pediatric physical therapy clinic closed on Tuesday following orders from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for the state’s non-essential stores to close for two weeks.

While Schreiber could be considered essential, the clinic decided to follow through with the state’s orders during the temporary window, said James DeBord, president of Schreiber.

“Because we serve so many medically fragile children and because of general concern and those of us seeking compliance with CDC guidelines, even if we had remained open we were seeing cancelation rates upwards of 60-70%,” he said. “The model can’t work with only 3 out of every 10 children showing up.”

Schreiber provides physical, occupational and speech therapy services to kids with disabilities, developmental delays and injuries.

This year, the nonprofit had an operating budget of $5.1 million—$2 million raised from community funding and $3 million from program revenue, primarily from Medicaid reimbursements.

The reimbursements are already some of the lowest in the health care industry with Schreiber losing $65 on average for every hour of service, but without that revenue, DeBord said the clinic will be looking at “cataclysmic” losses.

The clinic also expects to take a hit on its fundraising efforts after it was forced to postpone its annual Schreiber Gala, Schreiber’s biggest fundraising event of the year.

Depending on the time it takes to reopen, the financial losses from the closure could be impossible to recover from, said Dan Fink, director of marketing and public relations for Schreiber.

“Our next steps will be an all-out effort to raise money – not just to balance our budget, but to remain in existence,” Fink said. “This isn’t about covering the dollars we lost from the Gala or covering a shortfall. We will need significant community support to stay open.”

On the patient end, Schreiber sees approximately 500 children a week on average, many of which go on to receive multiple services at the clinic. DeBord said that because of the closure, many kids who were on the verge of a breakthrough with their therapists could regress because they can’t come into therapy.

Schreiber could alleviate the problem by connecting patients with its 60 therapists through telehealth conferencing, but DeBord said that the state would need to pass legislature to allow private insurers and Medicaid to cover telehealth for therapy services.

The clinic previously announced last December that it would be expanding its East Hempfield Township facility by 20,000 square feet, but will be postponing the expansion until further notice.

Rite Aid Foundation awards $2.4 million to child-focused charities

Nonprofits like Harrisburg-based Joshua House and Caitlin’s Smiles were two of 481 organizations nationally to receive funding in The Rite Aid Foundation’s 2020 KidCents class.

For the past six years, Rite Aid and its nonprofit foundation in Camp Hill have offered grant money through the foundation’s KidCents program to charities across the country shown to improve the health and wellbeing of children.

This year, the foundation added 69 charities to its growing list of nonprofits, making it the foundation’s largest group of nonprofits awarded funds since the program began.

KidCents is funded through Rite Aid’s loyalty program, which allows customers to round up their purchases to donate. This year, the foundation collected $2.4 million for the program.

With the money raised, the foundation will give each of the 481 nonprofits a $5,000 grant to be used at their discretion.

“More than three million Rite Aid customers actively choose to make meaningful contributions to help children in their communities through KidCents,” said Jessica Kazmaier, president of The Rite Aid Foundation and Rite Aid chief human resources officer. “The program’s growth is a testament to their generosity and commitment to building safer, stronger and more supportive communities for youth across the country. The 2020 KidCents class has the opportunity to prove that change adds up exponentially, and we look forward to helping them achieve their goal of giving kids better lives and brighter futures.”

Pennsylvania nonprofits participating in KidCents include Aevidum in Lititz, Aaron’s Acres in Lancaster and Joshua House and Caitlin’s Smiles in Harrisburg.

Cumberland County pediatric therapy offices receive $100,000 loan

Two jointly owned Cumberland County pediatric therapy offices were approved for loans from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s latest series of low-interest loans.

Camp Hill-based My Therapy Tree LLC, and Harrisburg-based Growing in Motion LLC, were approved for a shared $102,000, 15-year loan to buy a 2,200-square foot building in Camp Hill, Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Thursday.

My Therapy Tree provides early intervention therapy for children under 4 with developmental delays or disabilities. Growing in Motion offers occupational therapy and speech therapy for children 3 and up.

The building would be used by the two companies to build a child friendly space for their early intervention clients. The project is expected to cost $300,150 and will create one full-time job and retain three others.

The loan will be provided through the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation and was announced alongside seven other loans approved by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority for businesses in Delaware, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Snyder counties.

“The funding awarded today will help businesses in six Pennsylvania counties, businesses that serve as a snapshot of the growth we are seeing across the commonwealth, better serve their customers and communities,” said Gov. Wolf.

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.

Hershey pediatric psychology practice focuses on mental health, movement disorders

Dr. Timothy Zeiger recently opened a pediatrics mental health practice in Derry Township, Dauphin County.

A former Penn State Health clinical psychologist opened a new practice in Derry Township focused on pediatric mental health.

Dr. Timothy Zeiger was a faculty member at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for seven years prior to leaving last year to pursue his own psychology practice.

Zeiger specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and depressive disorders in pediatric patients and recently opened his new office at 1512 East Caracas Avenue in Hershey.

Zeiger offers treatment to children and adolescents dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, tics, Tourette Syndrome, movement disorders, anxiety and depression. He said providers offering treatments for Tourette Syndrome and movement disorders are scarce and that he is already seeing interest from parents from as far as State College, Reading and western Pennsylvania.

“There is quite a large population of patients with tics and Tourette’s and nowhere to get this therapy, so I am proud and honored to provide this valuable and much needed service,” Zeiger said.

The new practice allows Zeiger to focus solely on clinical treatment, which he said wasn’t possible at the medical center where faculty must also provide research and train medical students.

Stigmas associated with mental health have declined in recent years, and Zeiger said he believes his practice will need to grow as more parents seek mental health care for their children.

“We are gradually overcoming those barriers and, as a result, people aren’t ashamed of mental health treatment,” he said. “More families are reaching out for help and, as a result, the number of patients outweigh the number of providers.”


UPMC pediatrics office opens in Shippensburg


Pediatricians Dr. Scott Vascik and Dr. Steven Black are staffing the new UPMC Pediatrics Shippensburg in Cumberland County.

UPMC Pediatrics Shippensburg, a new practice staffed by two pediatricians, opened its doors to patients on Monday.

Along with pediatricians Dr. Scott Vascik and Dr. Steven Black, the 10,000-square-foot facility has a medical assistant, a patient service representative and an office manager.

“UPMC Pediatrics Shippensburg will offer the Shippensburg community expanded access to quality medical care in an environment dedicated to children and their families,” said Dr. Robert Nielsen of PinnacleHealth Medical Group. “Our highly skilled pediatricians collaborate with each other and the families they serve to improve the quality of health care and the patient experience.”

UPMC Pinnacle’s nearby lab services office, staffed by one phlebotomist, relocated from its location at Walnut Bottom Road and operates a lab within the new facility. The previous building housing UPMC Lab Services was leased by UPMC Pinnacle.

Lou Baverso, the hospital system’s Cumberland region president, said the new Shippensburg office gives the system a chance to expand its outpatient care.

“UPMC Pediatrics Shippensburg represents a convenient access point for patients and their families and allows us to further our goal of providing exceptional outpatient care for the Shippensburg community,” Baverso said.


Home care business turns to pediatrics

Sonia Perez, a home help aide with Right at Home Care, removes Quinn Banta, 15, shoes after school Monday, November 4, 2019 in Stewartstown, York County. The home care organization is branching out to work with kids. Photo/ Mark DeLoatch

When the adult-care company Right at Home of Southern Pennsylvania was asked to care for a 20-year-old brain cancer patient earlier this year, it struck a chord with franchisee Keith Zimmerman.

He lost his son to a similar illness years ago. At the time, Zimmerman said, he wished he could have used the same services his franchise offers to its older clients for his son.

Now, the York-based home care franchisee is adding pediatric care to the company’s services.

“My wife had to quit her job to take care of my son and it made a tough financial situation on top of everything else,” he said. “In retrospect, if we had the ability to have someone come in, and she could still work, she would still have seen him every day and it would have been a relief for her.”

While caring for the young man, Zimmerman’s staff received numerous requests for its non-clinical care, which includes house cleaning, transportation and meal preparation, to even younger patients.

Seeing the struggles that the client and his family were going through, and realizing that even more local families were interested in receiving Right at Home’s services, he began working with Right at Home’s corporate headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, to see how he could provide the company’s services to younger patients.

“He said he was seeing a need in his market where there were individuals that were less than 18 years of age that could benefit from Right at Home’s care,” said Margaret Haynes, Right at Home’s COO. “This looked like a great idea, to understand what it means to take care of minors.”

Sonia Perez, a home help aide with Right at Home Care, helps Quinn Banta, 15, exit his school van on Monday, November 4, 2019 in Stewartstown, York County. The home care organization is branching out to work with kids. Photo/ Mark DeLoatch

Zimmerman founded the York-based franchise in 2009 and over the last 10 years, grew the operation to offer services in York, Adams, Lancaster, Dauphin and Cumberland counties to more than 190 clients 18 and up.

Right at Home allowed Zimmerman to begin a pilot program and within two months, the company added six new clients under 18.

Home care services can be skilled, meaning that the caretaker is someone trained to offer medical assistance to a client; or unskilled and focused more on making a client comfortable. Some patients receive skilled care if they need help with tube feedings or receiving medication.

Patients may need a mixture of the two, or in the case of many of Right at Home’s pediatric patients, have intellectual disabilities that require them to have someone with them for more basic care only.

Various national companies have taken to offering unskilled care for pediatric patients, but regionally the offerings are few, said Zimmerman.

Insurance companies such as Gateway Health and UPMC Health Plan have pediatric case management units that connect their young patients with home care services. With few firms to go to, Right at Home receives many of their requests.

“They latched onto us because we served this 20-year-old young man,” Zimmerman said. “We quickly saw through them that there was a big need.”

The York franchise has offices in Lancaster, Hanover and Camp hill and employs nearly 200 workers. Only a portion of its caregivers have experience or training with pediatric cases, so the franchise is limiting the number young patients it will accept.

“We could take 20 cases tomorrow but we want to be sure we can adequately staff them,” Zimmerman said. “We want to see results before we jump in but we aren’t going to take cases we aren’t confident in.”

If Right at Home continues to see success in its pediatric offerings, the company could consider expanding the service to its franchises nationwide using the model developed by Zimmerman and his team.

“Zimmerman and his team have been thoughtful in thinking of how to service their clients,” Haynes said. “At the moment there are no red flags but we are in our learning mode and we want to learn from this experience.”