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News: 2005 Press Releases
Here you will find the latest information, feature stories, plus comprehensive articles in the latest treatment options and research at Altoona Regional Health System.
12/20/05 - HEALTHY LIVING CLUB PROGRAMS SET FOR JANUARY 2006
12/15/05 - CANCELLATIONS
12/01/05 - ONCOLOGY NURSES RECEIVE CERTIFICATION, ADVANCED TRAINING
11/30/05 - HEALTH SYSTEM REPORTS FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE
11/18/05 - ALTOONA HOSPITAL PARTNERSHIP DONATES TOOTHBRUSHES TO HELP THOSE IN NEED VIA ST. VINCENT'S FOOD PANTRY
11/11/05 - HEALTHY LIVING CLUB PROGRAMS SET FOR DECEMBER:
11/5/05 - PUBLIC ASKED TO HAVE PATIENCE WITH TELEPHONE PROBLEM
10/31/05 - ALTOONA REGIONAL CELEBRATES FIRST ANNIVERSARY
10/31/05 - Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club Presents Programs for Nov. 7-11:
10/18/05 - SAFE KIDS, ALTOONA REGIONAL PARTNER WITH FIRE DEPARTMENTS TO DISTRIBUTE SMOKE DETECTOR BATTERIES TO BLAIR COUNTY FAMILIES
10/11/05 - Healthy Living Club Presents: The Pros and Cons of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
10/07/05 - Healthy Living Club Offers Screening, Program Oct. 21
10/05/05 - Friends of Altoona Regional Health System Awards Scholarships
10/05/05 - AARP Driver Safety Program Offered by Altoona Regional & AARP
8/30/05 - The ABCs of Hepatitis: 'Ghost Virus' Haunts the Unaware, the Apathetic
8/29/05 - Altoona Regional contributes $18,000 to local fire departments
8/18/05 - Altoona Regional making contribution to local fire departments
8/15/05 - Merger Aids Health Care System In Improving Region's Medical Care
7/26/05 - Altoona Regional Names Clinical Nutrition Manager
7/13/05 - 'School of Rock' Unique National Program Promotes Physician, Parent and Child Bonding
7/07/05 - 'Friends' of Altoona Regional Health System Raises Nearly $1,300 Through Jewelry Sale
7/06/05 - Hospital Campus Names Food Service Director
7/05/05 - Area Students Honored at Altoona Regional Health System School of Medical Technology/Clinical Laboratory Science Graduation Ceremony
7/05/05 - PeriAnesthesia Nurses Host State
6/24/05 - Safe Kids Blair County Offers Summer Safety Reminders
6/14/05 - Center for Cancer Care Offers Low Side-Effect Prostate Treatment
6/13/05 - Altoona Regional Health System Debuts New Community Magazine
6/3/05 - Altoona Hospital Campus Laboratory Accredited by College of American Pathologists
5/20/05 - ALTOONA REGIONAL HEALTH SYSTEM COMPLETES PLANNING PROCESS
5/17/05 - Hepatitis C Screening Part of Hep. C '05 Campaign in Conjunction with Appearance of Thelma King-Thiel.
5/16/05 - Popular Healing Mass for the Sick Returns to Bon Secours Hosptial Campus
4/15/05 - Altoona Regional Health System Sponsors Children's Health & Safety Festival at Cresson Lake Playhouse
4/11/05 - ANNUAL GRIEF TELECONFERENCE SET FOR WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20, 2005
4/07/05 - MEDICAL DIRECTOR NAMED FOR ALTOONA REGIONAL SLEEP MEDICINE
3/30/05 - Altoona Regional Offers New Support Group for Those With Asperger's Disorder
3/11/05 - Georganna Horell Hired as Risk Manager
2/11/05 - HEALTH SYSTEM STUDIES FACILITY OPTIONS FOR THE FUTURE
2/02/05 - SAFE KIDS Blair County Offers Car Seat Inspections
1/26/05 - NEW HEALTH SYSTEM REPORTS EXCEPTIONAL PROGRESS
1/05/05 - ALTOONA REGIONAL CELEBRATES NEW YEAR'S BABIES


December 20, 2005 - HEALTHY LIVING CLUB PROGRAMS SET FOR JANUARY

OSTEOPOROSIS: FREE HEEL SCANS
Come find out how sturdy and healthy your bones really are with a free bone density screening. Available by appointment only between 12:30 and 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6, in the Allegheny Room, Outpatient Center, 6th Floor, Altoona Hospital Campus, 620 Howard Ave., Altoona.

IS YOUR CAR SEAT INSTALLED CORRECTLY?
Is your infant or child restrained properly in a safety seat? Find out with a personal appointment to have your car seat installation checked Friday, Jan. 13, in the parking garage at the Altoona Hospital Campus of Altoona Regional Health System, 620 Howard Ave. Look for the Safe Kids Blair County van on the blue level. There is no fee for this important service, sponsored by Safe Kids Blair County and Altoona Regional, its lead agency. Each car seat must be installed in each make of vehicle according to the manufacturer's directions or the car seat may not offer the maximum protection to your child in a crash. Let a certified car seat inspector take a look and show you how to install a car seat or booster seat correctly. Call for your appointment today, 889.7802.

AARP Driver Safety Program Offered by Altoona Regional & AARP
Drivers age 55 and older are invited to attend a classroom refresher course offered by AARP and Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club from 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, and Wednesday, Jan. 11.

The course covers age-related physical changes, perceptual skills, rules of the road and more. All automobile insurance companies in Pennsylvania provide a premium discount to graduates age 55 and older. Most insurance companies require both spouses insured under the same policy to take the class to receive a discount.

The classes will be held in the Juniata Room on the sixth floor of the Outpatient Center, Altoona Hospital Campus, 620 Howard Ave. The fee is $10. Registration required. Please call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.

ReSOLUTION SOLUTIONS
The new year is the perfect time to make healthy choices and the Altoona Regional Healthy Living Club can help. Whether you resolve to stop smoking, begin exercising or lose weight, you need to do some serious preparation work for this change in your life. Dr. Jack Jubala, clinical psychologist at Altoona Regional, will offer some keen insight on how to prepare yourself to succeed. He will share reasonable tips you can follow to help ensure a positive outcome. Join him on Friday, Jan. 20, at 11 a.m. in the Trzeciak Suite, Education Center, Bon Secours Hospital Campus. Lunch is at 11 a.m. followed by the program from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. No fee. Registration required. Please call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.

THIS IS IT! STOP SMOKING NOW!
You have finally faced the reality of what it's doing to you and made that all important choice - you are going to quit smoking! Here's a great way to reinforce your commitment: an eight-week course offered by Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club. The weekly sessions will be held Wednesdays, Jan. 25 through March 15, 4-5 p.m. Your lifeline and leader on this journey will be Dr. Jack Jubala, clinical psychologist at Altoona Regional. The fee is $50. Registration is required. Class limited to 15 participants. Please call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.

YOGA: beginner and intermediate classes, six weeks each
Gail Murphy, instructor in Hatha Yoga, leads this Healthy Living Club program, which offers mind/body exercise, breath control, stretching and strengthening to promote mental, physical and spiritual well-being. This series of beginner and intermediate classes runs Tuesdays, Jan. 10 through Feb. 14, in the Rotunda of the Outpatient Center, 6th floor, on the Altoona Hospital Campus. The beginner's session is held 5:30-6:40 p.m. and intermediate is 6:50-8 p.m. Please call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665. Register now as class size limited. Fee $30.

Yoga during pregnancy workshop
Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club presents Sharon Long, certified yoga instructor with specialized training in prenatal yoga, teaching a two-hour introductory workshop for pregnant women Monday, Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the Rotunda, 6th floor of the Outpatient Center, Altoona Hospital Campus. Women learn gentle postures, breath work, toning and meditation to support the body during the pregnancy, birth and after delivery. No previous yoga experience is necessary. Yoga is beneficial at any time during pregnancy. Register by calling 889-2630 or toll-free 1.888.313.4665.

For those interested, Sharon will offer a six-week series of prenatal yoga classes at the Altoona YWCA on Mondays, Jan. 30 to March 6, 6:30-8 p.m. Fee $60. Please call the YWCA at 944-8119 for more information.

WINTER CRAFT: BE MY VALENTINE
Join Sharon Rydbom, Altoona Regional Healthy Living Club's own craft diva, as she guides us in decorating a five wooden "Sweet Tart" heart door/wall decoration, inspired by the Valentine candy. Chase away the wintertime blahs! Join us Friday, Jan. 27, 6:30 p.m. in the Juniata Room, 6th Floor Outpatient Center, Altoona Hospital Campus. Fee $8. Register by calling 889-2630 or toll-free 1.888.313.4665.

Materials you will need to bring:
Strip of soft fabric, 3 inches wide by 30-36 inches long, for the bow at the top (choose a color suitable to your décor); small craft paint brush; glue gun (if you have one) and glue sticks; large Styrofoam plate for paint; two paper towels; scissors; tape measure, and three twist ties.

BETTER NUTRITION FOR A HEALTHY 2006
Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club wants you to start the new year off right with sensible solutions to those problems we all have keeping a resolution to follow a healthy diet. Join Laura Vasbinder, registered dietitian, as she provides good food tips for a healthier you at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 30 in the School of Nursing Auditorium on the Altoona Hospital Campus. Learn which foods to enjoy and which ones to limit in order to feel good, look good and ward off chronic conditions. Ample time will be allotted for questions. Lunch is at 11 a.m. followed by the program from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. No fee. Registration required. Please call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.





December 15, 2005 - CANCELLATIONS:
Childbirth Education Class scheduled tonight at Altoona Hospital Campus.

The Healthy Living Club program, "Depression in the Golden Years," scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16 at Bon Secours Hospital Campus.





December 1, 2005 - ONCOLOGY NURSES RECEIVE CERTIFICATION, ADVANCED TRAINING
Four nurses employed in the Medical Oncology Unit of the Altoona Hospital Campus of Altoona Regional Health System have received nursing certification or advanced training recently.

Carol Friedenbloom, RN, an oncology nurse with Altoona Regional Health System, recently passed the Oncology Nursing Society's (ONS) certification examination.

Her coworker, Patty Rakar, RN, attained her Oncology Nursing Society recertification for the third time, giving her 12 years with the certification.

A third employee, Cathy Dillen, RN, also certified in Oncology, recently attended the train-the-trainer course to become a certified instructor of the ONS Chemotherapy Competency Course.

The unit also has three other registered nurses who are ONS-certified - Jane Getsy and Becky Gartland, both for 17 years, and Brenda Reeder for 10 years.

Joan Soyster, RN, recently became certified by the Hospice Palliative Nursing Association in Palliative Care Nursing. Joan has passed an advanced course of study with an added emphasis on palliative care, hospice and end-of-life issues and processes.

Oncology certification demonstrates extensive knowledge and specialized training related to all areas of care for the cancer patient. This training is above and beyond what is received for medical/surgical nursing. Their knowledge of cancer includes prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, what is involved in the after-care of chemotherapy, radiation, biotherapy, management of side effects, recognition and treatment of related emergencies, research, end-of-life issues, quality of life, pain management and matters of death and dying.

To ensure that oncology nurses keep up to date in this ever-changing discipline, certification must be renewed every four years. This is achieved either by obtaining 100 continuing education units related to oncology or by retesting.

This certification is recognized - and recommended by - the American College of Surgeons, which heads the Commission on Cancer and provides accreditation for Altoona Regional's and other cancer programs nationwide.





November 30, 2005 - HEALTH SYSTEM REPORTS FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE
  • Merger efficiencies aid in improving fiscal condition and enhancing quality of care
  • System able to invest in newest technology and quality initiatives
  • Hospitals provided $4.8 million in free care for our community
  • ALTOONA, Pa. - Altoona Regional Health System reported strong financial performance for fiscal 2005, enhancing its ability to provide the latest medical innovations for the best possible patient care in this region.

    Altoona Regional was formed Nov. 1, 2004, by the merger of Altoona Hospital and Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital, both of which reported financial losses for their prior fiscal years. President and CEO James W. Barner said the financial results are extremely positive news for local health care.

    "Our promise to the community at the time of the merger was for a new, strong system that would enhance quality, identify and meet community health care needs, offer needed new services when possible, eliminate waste and duplication, and provide greater access and choice," he said. "Our first annual report is clear evidence that we have made noteworthy progress on all of these objectives."

    Altoona Regional's two hospitals had total fiscal 2005 operating revenues of $254,927,177, compared to total operating expenses of $245,285,937. The excess of operating revenue over expenses was $9,641,240. Coupled with non-operating gains of $6,559,513, the excess of total revenue over expenses was $16,200,753.

    The key statistics for the year for Altoona Regional's hospitals indicate a vibrant health care system that continues to have a growing regional presence. Acute care admissions for the year totaled 20,187. Outpatient visits exceeded 418,000. The two hospital emergency rooms treated 59,756 people, while inpatient and outpatient surgical procedures numbered more than 20,000.

    Free medical care to those who cannot afford health insurance and do not have the financial ability to pay for their treatment exceeded $4.8 million. In addition, Partnering for Health Services, a free medical clinic caring for uninsured adults who are not eligible for Medical Assistance, treated more than 2,000 patients last year and made 286 referrals to specialists. Partnering for Dental Services, which provides care for uninsured adults and children from Blair County and the surrounding area, provided restorative care to 980 people and screened more than 150 children.

    "Our strong financial performance is extremely important," Barner said. "In order to give the best possible care, our medical providers need to have access to the best possible staff and technology. Only with a healthy excess of revenue over expenses can we afford the advanced tools and the well-maintained facilities we need to provide exceptional care to those with or without the ability to pay."

    Two important additions to the system's medical technology are a state-of-the-art digital radiology imaging system for faster diagnoses and the board-approved purchase of two revolutionary 64-slice CT scanners, which can produce detailed pictures of any organ in the body in a few seconds.

    Statewide, according to the latest financial analysis by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), hospitals reported an aggregate operating margin of 2.1 percent and total margin of 3.37 percent for fiscal 2004. By comparison, the fiscal 2005 operating margin for Altoona Regional's hospitals was 3.78 percent and the total margin was 6.36 percent.

    For fiscal 2006, Barner said, Altoona Regional will be pursuing many objectives in its continuing effort to offer outstanding care.

    "We are working on a facility strategy that will help improve the efficiency of the health care system, as well as make outpatient services more convenient and customer-focused," he explained. "One of our primary challenges will be the increasingly competitive environment in outpatient services. We will meet that competition and ensure that our services are second to none in the community."

    Among other initiatives under way to achieve the system's goals are:
  • An aggressive overall quality improvement program focused on ensuring that the best possible clinical medicine is practiced in all medical disciplines at Altoona Regional. The system joined the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's 100,000 Lives Campaign, a national initiative for U.S. hospitals committed to improving patient care and preventing avoidable deaths.
  • Establishment of Rapid Response Teams for early intervention to help stave off life-threatening problems in inpatients whose conditions are declining.
  • An aggressive physician recruitment program to ensure that community members have the best physicians and specialists available to care for their families.
  • Expansion of many existing services, including the emergency department, intensive care and medical/surgical outpatient services department.
  • A partnership with The Studer Group, a pre-eminent national consulting organization, to help create and maintain a new culture of service and operational excellence.
  • An in-depth program to continually evaluate and improve patient, employee and medical staff satisfaction.
  • Continued pursuit of Magnet status - the highest award an organization can receive for nursing care. Magnet hospitals are the gold standard by which nursing and patient care are measured in the U.S.
  • Continued pursuit of accredited programs in stroke and bariatric surgery, and considering new services, such as neonatal intensive care and inpatient adolescent behavioral health, in response to our community's needs.
  • "The system will remain focused on strategies to provide the residents of Central Pennsylvania with access to the best caregivers and technology right here where they live," Barner concluded.




    November 18, 2005 - ALTOONA HOSPITAL PARTNERSHIP DONATES TOOTHBRUSHES TO HELP THOSE IN NEED VIA ST. VINCENT'S FOOD PANTRY

    The Altoona Hospital Partnership for a Healthy Community Inc. donated 1,812 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste to the St. Vincent de Paul Assumption Chapel Food Pantry in the Pleasant Valley area of Altoona.

    The partnership is a nonprofit organization working to enhance the health of individuals in Blair County and surrounding areas. Those efforts include Partnering for Dental Services, operated in cooperation with the Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center.

    "This is the second donation of its kind the partnership has made through the clinic," said Executive Director Marian Fifer. "Adults received 1,008 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste and 804 children received toothbrushes and toothpaste. We received such a positive response in 2003 when we made our first donation that we decided to do it again."

    The partnership donated 1,000 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste in 2003 (700 to adults and 300 to children).

    Donald E. Belsey, the pantry's director of administration, remembers the gratitude expressed by one child recipient. "This young girl had the deepest, darkest blue eyes and she was about 5. She and her mom were walking away after getting their food box. She looked inside and saw the kid's toothbrush. She took her Mommy's hand and said, 'I have my own toothbrush.'"

    The food pantry provides emergency food supplies once a month to families and individuals who meet certain government income guidelines. In 2004, the number of families served increase 48 percent. Again this year the number has grown, he said. The pantry provides groceries to 725 families a month, which amounts to 16,000 visits a year. This translates into 160,000 meals per year.

    The pantry is located at Hileman Street and Adams Avenue, behind the old D&M Chrysler building, between 15th and 16th streets.

    The toothpaste distributed by the partnership depicts Disney's Mickey Mouse. When you squeeze the tube, the paste comes out shaped like Mickey's head and ears.

    "The kids get all excited and run around with their toothbrush in one hand and their tube of toothpaste in the other. They hold onto it like there is no tomorrow," Belsey said.

    "It's great what the partnership does, not just with their donation to us, but also for the entire community through their dental clinics. The more we can bring dental care to the forefront, the better. The more the children can take care of themselves and their dental health, they won't have to fall upon the dental clinic."

    Photo Right: Marian Fifer, executive director of the Altoona Hospital Partnership for a Healthy Community Inc., presents toothbrushes and toothpaste to James M. Showalter, assistant director of the St. Vincent de Paul Assumption Chapel Food Pantry. Recently, 1,008 adults and 804 children in Blair County improved their oral hygiene with the gift of a new toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste courtesy of the partnership and distributed through the pantry.





    November 11, 2005 - HEALTHY LIVING CLUB PROGRAMS SET FOR DECEMBER:

    LIFESTYLE CHANGES? A ROAD TO BETTER HEALTH
    Learn about the latest advances in diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis when Michael Humphrey, D.O., of Blair Medical Associates, Altoona, explains the most up-to-date information Tuesday, Dec. 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Magee Lecture Hall, Altoona Hospital Campus of Altoona Regional Health System, 620 Howard Ave. He'll also explain how to minimize the risks associated with developing these most serious life-threatening illnesses. You must register for this Healthy Living Club program, so please call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.

    IS YOUR CAR SEAT INSTALLED CORRECTLY?
    Is your infant or child restrained properly in a safety seat? Find out with a personal appointment to have your car seat installation checked Friday, Dec. 9, in the parking garage at the Altoona Hospital Campus of Altoona Regional Health System, 620 Howard Ave. Look for the Safe Kids Blair County van on the blue level. There is no fee for this important service, sponsored by Safe Kids Blair County and its lead agency, Altoona Regional. Each car seat must be installed in each make of vehicle according to the manufacturer's directions or the car seat may not offer the maximum protection to your child in a crash. Let a certified car seat inspector take a look and show you how to install a car seat or booster seat correctly. Call for your appointment today, 889.7802.

    AARP Driver Safety Program Offered by Altoona Regional & AARP
    Drivers age 55 and older are invited to attend a classroom refresher course offered by AARP and Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club from 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, and Wednesday, Dec. 14.

    The course covers age-related physical changes, perceptual skills, rules of the road and more. All automobile insurance companies in Pennsylvania provide a premium discount to graduates age 55 and older. Most insurance companies require both spouses insured under the same policy to take the class to receive a discount. The classes will be held in the Juniata Room on the sixth floor of the Outpatient Center, Altoona Hospital Campus, 620 Howard Ave. The fee is $10. Registration required. Please call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.

    SAFE SITTER CLASS OFFERED
    Certified Safe Sitter instructors will prepare adolescents ages 11 to 13 to baby-sit infants and young children in a safe, responsible and competent manner in a class offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28, in the Trzeciak Suite, Education Center, Bon Secours Hospital Campus.

    Participants will learn basic child-care skills, how to keep a house secure, how to take precautions to prevent accidents, basic first-aid skills, how to treat or reduce discomfort and how to rescue a choking child or infant.

    The fee is $20 and includes materials, snacks and lunch. Registration required. Please call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.





    November 5, 2005 - PUBLIC ASKED TO HAVE PATIENCE WITH TELEPHONE PROBLEM

    The public is asked to direct dial patient rooms and departments at the Altoona Hospital Campus of Altoona Regional Health System for the next day or so due to technical problems with its phone system. A listing of the most frequently dialed departments can be found in local telephone directories or on the hospital web site at www.altoonaregional.org.

    A temporary fix is in place and incoming telephone calls are going through via the main hospital number, hospital officials said Saturday, however, the public may experience a prolonged busy signal at times when call volumes are high. The main switchboard sustained damage due to a waterline break Saturday morning.

    The waterline break did NOT affect patient care, hospital officials emphasized.





    October 31, 2005 - ALTOONA REGIONAL CELEBRATES FIRST ANNIVERSARY

    On Nov. 1, 2004, Altoona Hospital and Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital became one new health care organization. One year and one day later on Nov. 2, the community is invited to celebrate the accomplishments of our physicians, employees, volunteers and auxiliary members.

    "We have much to celebrate as great strides have been made in bringing together the people, services and cultures of two great hospitals," said Jim Barner, President/CEO. "We could not stand still. Our mandate was to move Altoona Regional Health System into the future and deliver on both the potential of the merger and our promise to the community."

    That promise was for a new, strong system that would enhance quality, identify and meet community health care needs, offer needed new services when possible, eliminate waste and duplication, and provide greater access and choice. The merger has provided the opportunity to strengthen and reinvent health care. The board of directors of Altoona Regional has set forth a new vision for our future - to become a world-class health care organization.

    "As we celebrate our first anniversary, our commitment to the community remains strong," Barner said. "When in need, you will find an organization totally committed to excellence, offering the best science and technology of today, the best medical staff and caregivers, in a warm and caring environment that exceeds your expectations for service. We invite you to come and celebrate with us the first anniversary of our world-class beginnings."

    The public is invited as Altoona Regional Health System celebrates its first anniversary Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2005:
  • 2 to 3 p.m. in the cafeteria, Bon Secours Hospital Campus, 2500 7th Ave.
  • 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the main lobby, Altoona Hospital Campus, 620 Howard Ave.
  • Merger, clinical and community service highlights for our first year

    2004
    Nov. 1

    Altoona Hospital, Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital and 20 affiliated organizations join to become Altoona Regional Health System. New board and senior leadership team in place.

    December
    Board approves bylaws for a combined medical staff, uniting the medical staffs of the former Altoona and Bon Secours-Holy Family hospitals and offering more than 300 physicians in a wide range of specialties and subspecialties.

    Combined cancer programs begin offering radioactive seed implantation for men with prostate cancer, a more convenient treatment with a lower risk of side effects.

    2005
    January

    Altoona Regional commits to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's 100,000 Lives Campaign, an ongoing national initiative for U.S. hospitals committed to improving patient care and preventing avoidable deaths.

    Altoona Regional sponsors and participates in its first major community event, the annual Health-O-Rama at the Blair County Convention Center.

    The health system begins working with health care planners and architects to consolidate services and plan for the future.

    February
    Altoona Hospital Campus gains three-year American Osteopathic Association accreditation.

    System receives the prestigious President's Award from the Allegheny Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau, recognizing the merger's positive impact on this region.

    March
    Altoona Regional sponsors the American Cancer Society's Daffodil Days, helping to further educate the community about the importance of cancer prevention.

    April
    Altoona Regional sponsors and participates in Blair Senior Services' 25th annual Senior Health Fair.

    Both system hospitals earn high praise during on-site survey by Department of Health.

    The auxiliaries of both hospitals join to create Friends of Altoona Regional Health System.

    May
    Board approves new employee-recommended vision, values and mission statements for Altoona Regional.

    Altoona Regional enlists the help of The Studer Group to begin building a new culture of service and organizational excellence.

    System receives Medal of Honor from the Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for achieving high rates of organ donation.

    June
    Altoona Regional engages Professional Research Consultants Inc. to enhance its patient satisfaction survey program.

    The Center for Cancer Care sponsors the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life fund-raiser and awareness event.

    Healthy Living Magazine, the system's new community publication, debuts.

    Looking to the future

    These are just a few of the more noteworthy, longer-term clinical quality and customer service efforts:
  • We have put in place an in-depth program to continually evaluate and improve customer, employee and medical staff satisfaction.
  • We are pursuing Magnet status - the highest award an organization can receive for nursing care. Magnet hospitals are the gold standard by which nursing and patient care are measured in the U.S.
  • We are pursuing accredited programs in stroke and bariatric surgery, and considering new services, such as neonatal intensive care and inpatient adolescent behavioral health, in response to our community's needs.
  • The system is considering its future consolidation and construction plans, assessing its strategies for providing convenient, high quality inpatient and outpatient services.





  • October 31, 2005 - Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club Presents Programs for Nov. 7-11:

    Driver Safety refresher course, Massage benefits, & vascular disease treatment options


    Drivers age 55 and older are invited to attend a classroom refresher course offered by AARP and Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club Monday, Nov. 7 and Tuesday, Nov. 8.

    The course covers age-related physical changes, perceptual skills, rules of the road and more. All automobile insurance companies in Pennsylvania provide a premium discount to graduates age 55 and older. Most require both spouses insured under the same policy to take the class to receive a discount.

    Monday's class will be in the Cambria Room and Tuesday's class will be in the Logan Room, on the sixth floor of the Outpatient Center, Altoona Hospital Campus. The fee is $10. Registration required. Please call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.

    Massage: You Won't Believe What it can do for you!

    Join Brian Cupples, certified massage therapist from Blair Medical Associates, as he talks about the benefits of therapeutic massage 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8. Learn how it can reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, reduce mental and physical fatigue, improve sleep and much more. The program will be in Magee Lecture Hall, on the sixth floor of the Outpatient Center, Altoona Hospital Campus. No fee, however, registration is required. Call 889-2630 or 1.888.313.4665.

    Common Vascular Problems of Older Adults

    Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club, a free community wellness program, presents Arthur J. DeMarsico, D.O., a vascular surgeon on the medical staff at Altoona Regional Health System, to discuss common vascular problems of older adults Friday, Nov. 11.

    Lunch begins at 11 a.m. in the School of Nursing Auditorium on the Altoona Hospital Campus. Registration is required by calling the Healthy Living Club at 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.

    Join Dr. DeMarsico of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery of Altoona Inc. as he discusses some of the more common vascular problems in older adults, including peripheral vascular disease, painful walking, "poor circulation" and cardiovascular disease. Ample time will be allotted to answer questions.




    October 18, 2005 - SAFE KIDS, ALTOONA REGIONAL PARTNER WITH FIRE DEPARTMENTS TO DISTRIBUTE SMOKE DETECTOR BATTERIES TO BLAIR COUNTY FAMILIES

    Safe Kids Blair County and its lead agency, Altoona Regional Health System, are partnering with Blair County fire departments to provide Blair County families with 9-volt batteries and remind residents to replace the batteries in their smoke detectors.

    The media is invited to attend a brief distribution event at the Altoona Hospital Campus of Altoona Regional Health System at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 27. Parking will be available in the Emergency Department overflow parking area near the helicopter pad. The Altoona Hospital Campus is located at 620 Howard Ave., Altoona.

    Some batteries will be distributed to the fire departments who are present that day. The batteries are provided with the intention that the departments will give them to families with children in their respective areas. Residents are urged to change the batteries in their smoke detectors at the same time they move their clocks backward as daylight saving time ends Sunday, Oct. 30.




    October 11, 2005 - HEALTHY LIVING CLUB PRESENTS: THE PROS AND CONS OF VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS

    Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club, a free community wellness program, presents Jill Breton, Pharm. D., clinical pharmacist at Altoona Regional Health System, to discuss the pros and cons of taking vitamin and mineral supplements Wednesday, Oct. 26.

    Lunch begins at 11 a.m. in the School of Nursing Auditorium on the Altoona Hospital Campus. Registration is required by calling the Healthy Living Club at 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.

    The human body prefers food, not pills, but what if a person's diet isn't as varied as it should be? Should taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement be considered? Come find out and bring questions of your own. Ample time will be allotted to answer questions.




    October 7, 2005 - Healthy Living Club Offers Screening, Program Oct. 21

    Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club, a free community wellness program, offers a free osteoporosis screening between the hours of 12:30 and 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, on the Altoona Hospital Campus. An individual heel scan is scheduled by appointment only by calling the Healthy Living Club at 889.2630 or toll free 1.888.313.4665.

    The club is also sponsoring a luncheon program on the Bon Secours Hospital Campus on Friday, Oct. 21, "Tips for Safer Homes and Neighborhoods," presented by Logan Township Police Officer Terry Walters. The free program will be held in the Trzeciak Suite in the Education Center. Lunch begins at 11 a.m. followed by the program until 1 p.m. Registration is required. To register, please call the Healthy Living Club at 889.2630 or toll free 1.888.313.4665.

    Officer Walters will share valuable insight regarding how to become more vigilant. He will be accompanied by his K-9 dog Sam and will describe how the dog is trained, how he assists in apprehending a suspect, and other details regarding ways they keep our community safe. Also, Maureen Adams of Blair Senior Services will give a short talk on Neighborhood Watch Groups.




    October 5, 2005 - FRIENDS OF ALTOONA REGIONAL HEALTH SYSTEM AWARDS SCHOLARSHIPS

    Duncansville resident Amber Tarry and Oil City native Catherine Pazsint, students of the Altoona Regional Health System School of Medical Technology, Altoona, have received scholarship awards.

    The scholarships, $500 each, are given annually by Friends of Altoona Regional Health System.

    Ms. Tarry is the daughter of Tammy Tarry of Roaring Spring and the late John Tarry. She graduated from Penn State University in May 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and a minor in biochemistry and molecular biology. While at Penn State, Amber worked in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Culture Lab preparing cultures for all the undergraduate microbiology labs. After finishing her clinical year, Ms. Tarry plans to work in a hospital lab for a few years and go back to school to get her MBA.

    Ms. Pazsint is the daughter of Daniel Pazsint and Janet Williams. She attended Clarion University and earned her Bachelor of Science in molecular biology and biotechnology. She worked as a research specialist for three years for the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and has one publication in Ribozyme and siRNA protocols. After earning her degree in medical technology, she hopes to move on to a specialty in molecular diagnostics by joining a master's program. With these credentials, she aims to build strong molecular diagnostic labs in hospitals, and with time, move to a supervisory or leadership position.


    Photo above: (front, from left) Sally Earnest, chairperson of the Scholarship Committee of Friends of Altoona Regional Health System, recently presented scholarships to Amber Tarry and Catherine Pazsint who are students at the Altoona Regional School of Medical Technology represented by (back row, left) Joseph Noel, program director, with Jack Freas, president, Friends of Altoona Regional Health System.




    October 5, 2005 - AARP Driver Safety Program Offered by Altoona Regional & AARP

    Drivers age 55 and older are invited to attend a classroom refresher course offered by AARP and Altoona Regional's Healthy Living Club Tuesday, Oct. 11 and Wednesday, October 12.

    The course covers age-related physical changes, perceptual skills, rules of the road and more. All automobile insurance companies in Pennsylvania provide a premium discount to graduates age 55 and older. Most require both spouses insured under the same policy to take the class to receive a discount.

    The classes will be held in the Juniata Room, on the sixth floor of the Outpatient Center, Altoona Hospital Campus. The fee is $10. Registration required. Please call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.




    September 29, 2005 - Hands of Hope: Surviving Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

    Thursday, Oct. 20, 2005
    Doors open 6 p.m. free handouts and refreshments.
    7 p.m. Program
    Ramada, Altoona
    Free. No registration required.
    For more information, call 889-2706.


    Dr. Joseph Antonowicz, medical director of Altoona Regional Center for Behavioral Health Services, will address the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on families and the hope of recovery with adequate treatment.

    Guest speaker Barbara Borntrager (photo right), author of "A Mother Held Hostage," will tell the story of her late child, Jon, who suffered with Tourette's syndrome and related mental health problems. Jon ended his own life despite the love of his family and friends. Learn from this survivor's story of resiliency and hope.

    A depression screening self-test will be available. The evening will conclude with a recognition and remembrance service.

    Sponsors: Altoona Regional Health System, Blair County MH/MR/D&A Program, Home Nursing Agency, National Association of Mentally Ill Blair County (NAMI), Penn State Altoona Health & Wellness Center.




    August 30, 2005 - The ABCs of Hepatitis: 'Ghost Virus' Haunts the Unaware, the Apathetic

    Altoona Regional Health System's Healthy Living Club is offering the program "The ABCs of Hepatitis" with Jonathan Grier, M.D., a gastroenterologist, at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16, 2005, at the Bon Secours Hospital Campus. Lunch precedes the program at 11 a.m. Both take place in the Trzeciak Suite in the Education Center. While there is no fee, registration is required by calling 889-2630 or toll-free 1-888-313-4665.

    "It could never happen here." ... "That stuff only goes on in the big cities." ... "Our town doesn't have a hepatitis C problem."

    These are common health misconceptions that resonate throughout small towns and midsize cities in America.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that by the year 2014 hepatitis C will be a pandemic, affecting an extraordinarily high number of people over a large geographic area - including Altoona and many of the once-sheltered small towns dotting our region.

    Altoona Regional Health System's Healthy Living Club is offering the program "The ABCs of Hepatitis" with Jonathan Grier, M.D., a gastroenterologist, at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16, 2005, at the Bon Secours Hospital Campus. Lunch precedes the program at 11 a.m. Both take place in the Trzeciak Suite in the Education Center. While there is no fee, registration is required by calling 889-2630 or toll-free 1-888-313-4665.

    This program is part of Altoona Regional's participation in a yearlong, community education effort to build hepatitis C awareness, education and research in the hopes of stopping this stealthy and ruthless disease.

    Altoona Regional has teamed with the Blair County Healthy Communities Partnership, a committee of the Blair County Health and Welfare Council, to sponsor the "Hep. C '05 Campaign."

    "The goal of this program is to promote testing, prevention and education of Hep. C among not only area residents but also the local health care community," according to JoEllen Steinbrunner, project chairperson.

    Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver, causing cirrhosis or scarring and liver failure. And if the threat of chronic liver disease wasn't enough of a health risk, on Feb. 5 the Hepatitis C virus was added to the U.S. government's list of cancer-causing agents.

    Hepatitis C's truly dangerous characteristic its ability to evade medical diagnosis, as well as widespread media attention. In fact, the physical symptoms of hepatitis C, known as "the ghost virus" and "the silent killer," may not become apparent to an infected person for 10 or 20 years, according to Linda Winston, an infection control specialist with Altoona Regional Health System.

    Some of the signs and symptoms of liver disease include jaundice (the yellowing of the skin and eye); pruritus (itching all over the body); dark, tea-colored urine; weight loss; decreasing energy and fatigue; easy bruising and bleeding (bleeding gums or frequent nosebleeds), and mental confusion.

    "Because only a small percentage of people with hepatitis C develop medical conditions outside the liver, recognizing the signs and being screened is often the only way someone who participated in high-risk behavior can be sure they have the disease," she said.

    Hepatitis C is spread by direct contact with infected blood, often through actions known as "high-risk behaviors." Injecting illegal drugs is the most frequent way hepatitis C is spread, and Blair County's rise in hepatitis C cases coincides with a rise in heroin use among substance abusers.

    Tattoos and body piercing are also high-risk behaviors, as well as sharing needles or razors with someone who might be infected.

    Exposures also can occur during dialysis, blood transfusions or in solid organ transplants before 1992. And health care workers or people who work with blood have an increased risk of exposure - two of every 100 will contract the disease.

    For more information on hepatitis C or screening for the disease, contact Altoona Regional's Infection Control Department at 889-2194.




    August 29, 2005 - Altoona Regional contributes $18,000 to local fire departments

    For firefighters and other first-responders, danger is a way of life. And, now more than ever, the threat of bioterrorism delivers the possibility of mass civilian casualties to the doorstep of community fire companies.

    In support of the important work first-responders do, Altoona Regional Health System has developed a collaborative agreement with the City of Altoona and the five surrounding Logan Township fire departments to provide bioterrorism equipment, supplies and decontamination training. In return, the fire departments have agreed to provide manpower to the health care system in the event of a mass decontamination situation.

    "Preparedness and collaboration are critical if any community is to respond quickly and efficiently during a mass decontamination situation," says James W. Barner, President/CEO of Altoona Regional Health System. "I applaud all those involved in creating this partnership for the benefit and good of our community."

    Altoona Regional presented $18,000 to several officials from local fire companies on Aug. 22 during a ceremony at Altoona Hospital Campus. The agreement, which provides a one-time contribution of $3,000 to each fire company, was made possible through a federal grant obtained by the health care system for bioterrorism preparedness.

    Fire companies receiving funds include the City of Altoona Fire Department, Greenwood Volunteer Fire Company, Kittanning Trail Volunteer Fire Company, Lakemont Volunteer Fire Company, Logan Township United Fire Department and the Newburg Volunteer Fire Company.



    Photo: During an Aug. 22 ceremony at Altoona Hospital Campus, Altoona Regional presented the City of Altoona and the five surrounding Logan Township fire departments with $3,000 checks as part of a collaborative agreement for bioterrorism preparedness. Those in attendance included (from left): first row - Jack Smith, Lakemont Volunteer Fire Company president; Bob Dennis, Newburg Volunteer Fire Company president; Doug Glunt, Kittanning Trail Volunteer Fire Company; Travis Lunglhofer, Logan Township United Fire Department chief, and Mark Salsbury, Greenwood Volunteer Fire Company. Second row - Chief Rene Santone, City of Altoona Fire Department chief; Ronald McConnell, Senior Vice President Corporate Development, James Barner, President/Chief Executive Officer, and John Hawksworth, Hospital/Safety Police chief, Altoona Regional Health System, and Tom Sral, Logan Township Fire administrator. Absent when the photo was taken were Mayor Thomas C. Martin and R. Scott Magley, Senior Vice President, chair of Emergency Medicine, Altoona Regional Health System.




    August 18, 2005 - Altoona Regional making contribution to local fire departments

    On Monday, August 22, at 7:30 a.m. at the Altoona Hospital Campus, Outpatient Center, 6th Floor Rotunda, officials from Altoona Regional Health System will give $18,000 to local fire companies. Officials from the fire companies, and City of Altoona representatives, are scheduled to attend.

    Altoona Regional Health System has developed a collaborative agreement with the City of Altoona and the five surrounding Logan Township fire departments. The agreement, which provides a one-time contribution of $3,000 to each fire company, was made possible through a federal grant obtained by the health care system for bioterrorism preparedness.

    The arrangement calls for Altoona Regional to provide bioterrorism equipment, supplies and decontamination training for the fire departments. In return, the fire departments agree to provide manpower to the health care system in the event of a mass decontamination situation.

    "Preparedness and collaboration are critical if any community is to respond quickly and efficiently during a mass decontamination situation," says James W. Barner, President/CEO of Altoona Regional Health System. "I applaud all those involved in creating this partnership for the benefit and good of our community."

    Fire companies receiving funds include the City of Altoona Fire Department, Greenwood Volunteer Fire Company, Kittanning Trail Volunteer Fire Company, Lakemont Volunteer Fire Company, Logan Township United Fire Department and the Newburg Volunteer Fire Company.





    August 15, 2005 - Merger Aids Health Care System In Improving Region's Medical Care

    Board's new vision statement is a glimpse into an optimistic future

    ALTOONA, Pa. - Altoona Regional Health System, a not-for-profit, charitable health care system formed Nov. 1, 2004, released an update today on its integration progress since the merger.

    According to James W. Barner, Altoona Regional president and CEO, "We have made significant progress in nine short months toward improving health care for our region. The merger of programs and staff within the system has created many synergies, allowing us to strengthen clinical services, improve medical quality, plan for the purchases of new leading-edge medical technology, and strengthen our financial standing."

    The following categories detail some important new efforts of the system.

    Vision, values and mission
    Altoona Regional's Board of Directors recently approved new vision, values and mission statements for the health care system. According to Barner, "These new, bold statements provide a commitment to our community for high quality services, innovation and customer service. They also provide commitment to the exceptional employees of Altoona Regional."

    Service statistics and finances
    As a regional referral center, Altoona Regional has experienced growth in its services since the merger. For fiscal 2005 (July 1 through Oct. 31, 2004, for Altoona Hospital and Nov. 1 through June 30, 2005, for the merged entity Altoona Regional Health System), the following occurred:
  • Inpatient admissions increased 4.6 percent vs. fiscal 2004, or 893 patients, for a total of 20,191 inpatient admissions.
  • Patient days grew 6 percent to 93,608, an increase of 5,310 when compared to fiscal 2004.
  • Employment at the hospitals has remained stable at approximately 2,283 full-time equivalent employees. Staffing reductions anticipated due to the merger were avoided because of increased patient volumes and by closely managing workforce attrition.
  • The merger has resulted in the health system saving more than $15 million in business operations to date. Within that total, $9 million was due to the avoidance of planned capital expenditures that were no longer necessary because of the merger. The other $6 million was due to operating efficiencies and productivity gains.
  • As a result of strong patient volumes and the efficiencies gained by the merger, it is anticipated that the financial profitability of the health care system should be improved vs. the individual results reported from each hospital last year. Final figures will be released in early fall after the completion of an accounting audit, which is performed annually by Deloitte & Touche.
  • Medical services and quality of care
    Altoona Regional is focused on strengthening existing medical services and ensuring that world-class clinical care is provided for anyone in need. For that reason, the board of directors has established a new Quality Leadership Committee to ensure a commitment to quality improvement activities and new programs throughout the health system.

    This new board committee has committed to:
  • The principles of the 100,000 Lives Campaign of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. This national initiative focuses on six proven strategies that improve health care delivery and save lives.
  • Studying the development of an "accredited" bariatric surgery program and an "accredited" stroke program for patients in our region.
  • Supporting a transition from a traditional pharmacy program to a clinical pharmacy program. The new program will place clinical pharmacists on the hospital floors for support and guidance in prescribing and monitoring medication use.
  • Working cooperatively with the medical staff to study, review and implement “best practices” for medical care in all major disease categories.
  • Studying new laboratory modalities that improve clinical results, improve efficiencies and provide more timely patient results.
  • Purchasing new scheduling software to ensure the most efficient use of resources in keeping the hospital campuses clean.
  • Facilities and technology
    The board of directors recently adopted a new Master Facility Plan to plan for the delivery of health care services. Near-term changes and new services detailed in the plan will create hundreds of construction jobs as well as new health care jobs and will be implemented over the next two years at a cost of approximately $29 million.

    Phase one covers the period from now to 2010 and is focused toward efficiently combining clinical services on the two hospital campuses. Phase two calls for an in-depth analysis of the system's options for consolidation of services onto one medical campus.

    The plan also calls for the construction of a new $7 million outpatient imaging center, which will include a 64-slice CT scanner (providing the opportunity for new cardiac and gastrointestinal imaging services), the latest in MRI equipment, new mammography equipment, ultrasound and other radiology equipment. More updates to the current imaging systems will cost nearly $5 million through fiscal 2007 to replace aging diagnostic imaging technology on both hospital campuses to provide world-class radiology services.

    A new PACS, short for picture archival and communications system, now being installed will move Altoona Regional's imaging services into the state-of-the-art digital (filmless) environment. This cutting-edge technology will allow physicians to view and consult on patient images from their offices, homes or other convenient locations outside the hospital, often saving valuable time in reaching a diagnosis.

    Auxiliaries
    Recently, the auxiliaries of the former Altoona and Bon Secours-Holy Family hospitals merged to create Friends of Altoona Regional Health System. Friends now offers support and funding to both hospital campuses through various fund-raisers, thus helping improve health care in our community.

    Pastoral/spiritual care
    Altoona Regional has made a commitment to strengthen its pastoral/spiritual care services by adding five new staff members. The program now offers services to patients and their families on-site 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Additionally, Friends of Altoona Regional recently purchased new video and sound equipment to improve the video transmission of broadcast church services into patient rooms on the Bon Secours Hospital Campus.

    Community outreach
    In June, the health system announced a new community education program and magazine aimed at helping people of all ages lead healthier, happier lives. The Healthy Living Club will be accepting members this fall. Healthy Living Magazine's first issue was published in June and will continue quarterly.

    Altoona Regional remains committed to regularly updating the community on changes and enhancements in the health care system.





    July 26, 2005 - Altoona Regional Names Clinical Nutrition Manager

    Dona Baughman, R.D., L.D.N., has been promoted to clinical nutrition manager of Food and Nutrition Services at Altoona Regional Health System. Dona began her career as a part-time outpatient dietitian at Altoona Hospital. She has worked at Altoona Hospital for 15 years, and has held the position of senior clinical dietitian since 1995.

    In her new role, Dona is responsible for managing the dietitians at Altoona Hospital and Bon Secours Hospital campuses. She also oversees the office staff at Altoona Hospital Campus.





    July 13, 2005 - 'School of Rock' Unique National Program Promotes Physician, Parent and Child Bonding

    ALTOONA - An Altoona baby's birth kicked off a national pilot program bringing significant recognition to the Altoona Family Physician Residency Program (AFP).

    The Rocking Chair Pilot Program is designed to identify an economically disadvantaged mother to whom a gliding rocking chair would be given at the birth of her child to help nurture herself and her baby in the crucial early months.

    The Rocking Chair Pilot Program is in cooperation with the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation. The Altoona Family Physician Residency Program was one of four programs in the nation - out of 459 - to be chosen as a pilot program. Second-year residents are given one chair to present to a mother. To date, four out of seven mothers selected have received chairs from AFP.

    The Rocking Chair program began when Trish and Mike Magee, M.D., of Boston gave rocking chairs to needy mothers in honor of their granddaughter Anabella's birth, through their daughter-in-law, Susanna Magee, M.D., a family medicine resident. With the desire to go nationwide, the Magees teamed up with the AAFP Foundation in 2004 to design the program. Because of positive feedback from the family medicine residents, the nonprofit organization was founded.

    Dylan McCaulley, son of Richie McCaulley and Amber Clark of Altoona, has the status of being the first baby born in the nationwide pilot program that promotes physician, parent and child bonding. Dylan and his parents were the first recipients of a glider rocking chair presented by the Altoona Family Physicians Residency (AFP) of Altoona Regional Health System. The free chair is made possible through the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation and the Rocking Chair Project.

    "For the parents and child, the gift is the concrete expression that people care about them," said Elissa J. Palmer, M.D., director of AFP. "For the resident physician, this is a formative experience meant to reinforce key values of humanistic medicine, including compassion, understanding and partnership."

    Terry Ruhl, M.D., an AFP faculty associate director, said AFP added its own twist to promote literacy. Each family receives a set of age-appropriate books to be read to the infant while rocking. Funds to buy the books were raised by AFP in collaboration with the Cambria County Chapter of Medical Assistants.

    "This is such an incredibly generous thing to do," Ms. Clark said. "We are so appreciative to both our families for their support. Dr. (Kristen) Grine (D.O.) and Dr. Ruhl were just wonderful during my labor and delivery. They took the time to answer all our questions."

    For additional information and photos on the Rocking Chair Project, visit the Web site at www.altoonafp.org/rocking_chair_project.htm

    Photo: Dylan McCaulley enjoys being rocked by his mother, Amber Clark, while father Richie McCaulley enjoys the moment. With the family are Kristen Grine, D.O., (right, with one of the age-appropriate books) and Terry Ruhl, M.D.





    July 7, 2005 - 'Friends' of Altoona Regional Health System Raises Nearly $1,300 Through Jewelry Sale

    Through the generosity of a local jewelry store owner, the first joint fund-raiser of the formerly separate hospital auxiliaries raised nearly $1,300 to benefit area patients.

    Now called Friends of Altoona Regional Health System, the auxiliary extends its sincere appreciation to Altoona businessman Devin Mullen of Your Jewelry Box for donating 14 pieces of jewelry with a retail value of nearly $3,200. Your Jewelry Box is located at 1130 12th Ave., Altoona. Raffle tickets were sold as chances on winning the dazzling jewels during the annual Women's Night Out event sponsored by Altoona Regional Women's HealthSource.

    Photo: Development Associate Valerie Brumbaugh of Altoona Regional Health System (left) presents the Rev. Barbara Love (center) with the grand prize, a 14-karat yellow gold, half-carat total diamond weight omega slide. Devin Mullen of Your Jewelry Box donated the slide, which has a retail value of $800, and 13 other jewelry items as a fund-raiser for the Friends of Altoona Regional Health System.





    July 6, 2005 - HOSPITAL CAMPUS NAMES FOOD SERVICE DIRECTOR

    Lisa Baker of Morrison Management Specialist has been promoted to director of Food and Nutrition Services at Altoona Regional Health System, Bon Secours Hospital Campus.

    Morrison is the nation's only specialist dedicated exclusively to healthcare and senior dining food services. They were contracted in 1995 to manage the food service at Bon Secours.

    Baker was assistant director and has worked at Bon Secours for 10 years.

    John Neff assumed Baker's former role as the assistant director. Neff was the former director of nutrition services at a long-term care facility in the State College area.





    July 5, 2005 - Area Students Honored at Altoona Regional Health System School of Medical Technology/Clinical Laboratory Science Graduation Ceremony

    ALTOONA - Three area students were among the five graduates of the 30th class of the Altoona Regional Health System School of Medical Technology/Clinical Laboratory Science, held Friday June 24, 2005.

    Area graduates included, Mitchell Ryan Koptchak, son of Mitchell and Kimberly Koptchak of Philipsburg, Pa., Melissa Marie Sankey, spouse of Matt Sankey and daughter of Dick and Anne Williamson of Altoona, and Jenny Janine Waddle spouse of Keith Waddle of Duncansville, and daughter of Norma Hunt of Mineral Wells, Texas.

    Gina Marie Tricarico daughter of James and Andrea Tricarico of Old Forge, Pa., and Kathy Lynn Rodgers, daughter of Aleta and Roy Rodgers of Sarver, Pa., were also among the graduating class.

    Joseph Pufka, laboratory manager of operations, presented the Most Outstanding Student Award to Melissa M. Sankey.

    Joseph R. Noel, program director of Altoona Hospital School of Medical Technology/Clinical Laboratory Science, presented two academic achievement awards to, Gina M. Tricarico and Jenny J. Waddle.

    Jim Kantoski, administrative director of the laboratory, offered a welcome to the family of the graduates, honored guests, faculty and graduates.

    Anthony A. Serino, PhD, assistant professor of biology, College Misericordia, Dallas, Pa., Luzerne County, was the guest speaker for the ceremony. Americo B. Anton, M.D., laboratory director, and Joseph R. Noel, presented the graduates with their diplomas and pins.

    Clinical Laboratory Science (Medical Technology) is an interesting, challenging and rewarding profession. Laboratory tests performed to aid physicians in their diagnosis and treatment of patients are done under the direction of clinical laboratory scientists (Medical Technologists).

    Working in a hospital, clinic, research laboratory, physician's office or public health laboratory, Medical Technologists are responsible for a variety of chemical, hematological, immunological, microbiological, serologic and other laboratory procedures. Such determinations contribute to patient care and provide important diagnostic data.

    The clinical laboratory scientist is responsible for the quality control of the laboratory, and supervision of other laboratory personnel. Since laboratory tests deal directly with life and death matters, the trained clinical laboratory scientist occupies a key responsible position.

    As in other medical professions, the practice of clinical laboratory science is regulated from within the profession, and in some states, by law.

    Photo: Members of the Altoona Regional Health System School of Medical Technology/Clinical Laboratory Science recently graduated as the 30th class of the program. Graduates are: (first row, left to right) Gina Tricarico and Kathy Rodgers, (second row Left to right) Jenny Waddle, Mitchell Koptchak and Melissa Sankey. Medical technologists contribute to patient care and provide important diagnostic data.





    July 5, 2005 - PeriAnesthesia Nurses Host State

    The Pennsylvania Association of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (PAPAN) is delighted to announce plans for the 14th Annual PeriAnesthesia PRIDE conference to be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24 and 25, 2005, at the Ramada Inn, Altoona.

    PeriAnesthesia Nursing is a specialized field of nursing concerned with educating the public about the care a patient requires before, during and after any procedure requiring anesthesia or pain management.

    PAPAN is preparing for more than 150 nurses and their families to come to Altoona for the weekend. This year's planning committee is comprised of a team from the PeriAnesthesia Care Unit of Altoona Regional Health System, which is cosponsoring the event.

    Members of the committee will lead a team of volunteers who will be soliciting gifts and gift certificates from area restaurants and businesses for door prizes. They will also use some of the items to create gift baskets to raffle off or use as thank-you gifts for conference speakers. All contributors will be recognized at the conference.

    "On Saturday evening, more than 150 nurses and their families will be on their own for dinner and shopping," said Theresa Lingafelt, committee coordinator. "They will be searching for a place to have a nice dinner and maybe do some shopping. This is a good way for businesses to promote themselves."

    Businesses are also welcome to set up an exhibit table to advertise and discuss their products with the nurses on their conference breaks.

    Anyone interested in donating a gift certificate or item, or in having an exhibit table, should contact Theresa at 742-7923.





    June 24, 2005 - Safe Kids Blair County Offers Summer Safety Reminders

    ALTOONA - Summer has officially arrived, and with area schools closed, children have been enjoying more time outdoors engaged in active play.

    "Summer is trauma season," says Sherry Turchetta, Safe Kids Blair County coordinator. "That's when kids are most likely to be riding a bike, swimming, crossing streets and spending time at the playground."

    Turchetta is a Community Education Specialist with Altoona Regional Health System. Altoona Regional is the lead agency for Safe Kids Blair County.

    Every summer, approximately 2.7 million children in the United States ages 14 and under are treated in emergency rooms for unintentional injuries, and more than 2,000 die. More children are accidentally injured during the summer than any other time of year, with about 42 percent of fatal injuries occurring between May 1 and Aug. 31, according to a National Safe Kids Campaign study.

    According to Kelly Blake, R.N., B.S.N., C.E.N., C.C.R.N., administrative director, Department of Emergency Medicine, Altoona Regional Health System, more than 1,750 children, 14 years old and younger, visited the ER between May 1 and Aug. 31, 2004, with injuries.

    Emergency room visits for accidental injuries among children increase nearly 20 percent from the average. The increase in childhood injuries during the summer is greatest among school-age children.

    Safe Kids Blair County encourages age-appropriate outdoor activity, but also urges appropriate precautions and active supervision. "Simply being near your child is not necessarily supervising," says Turchetta. "A supervised child is in sight and in reach at all times, with your undivided attention focused on the child."

    Parents and caregivers should know, and know how to minimize, the risks associated with:
  • Swimming: Pools should be surrounded by isolation fences with locked gates. Keep your child in sight and in reach at all times while near a pool or body of water. Swimming lessons and inflatable swimming aids do not prevent drowning; there is no substitute for active supervision. Keep a phone handy and know infant and child CPR.
  • Bicycling: Every cyclist needs to wear a properly fitted bike helmet. Kids should ride bikes of appropriate size and should not ride without supervision until they have demonstrated safe riding habits and good judgment.
  • Playgrounds: Grass, soil and asphalt are not safe surfaces for playground equipment; the ground should be covered 12 inches deep with mulch, shredded rubber or fine sand. Jewelry, bike helmets and drawstrings in apparel can get caught on playground equipment and strangle a child.
  • Traffic: Teach your children to use crosswalks and walk signals when available and only to cross after looking both ways.
  • Climbing and falls: Windows above the first floor should be equipped with window guards - a screen does not prevent falls. Supervise children around open windows; about 5,000 kids each year are seriously injured by falling out of windows onto hard surfaces.
  • For additional tips about each of these summer hazards, call 814-889-7802 or visit www.safekids.org.

    Safe Kids Blair County is part of the National Safe Kids Campaign, the first and only national nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury - the No. 1 killer of children ages 14 and under. More than 300 state and local Safe Kids coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico make up the Campaign.





    June 14, 2005 - Center for Cancer Care Offers Low Side-Effect Prostate Treatment

    Photo right: Jack Schocker, M.D., explains the benefits of low dose rate permanent prostate implant therapy for prostate cancer patient Bill Deininger of Tipton. In North America, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer affecting the male population, representing 26 percent of all new male cancer diagnoses.

    Altoona Regional Health System Center for Cancer Care now offers brachytherapy for prostate cancer. Also known as seed implant therapy, treatment consists of implanting radioactive Iodine-125 pellets, or "seeds", inside the prostate. The seeds - smaller than grains of rice - will continue to battle the prostate cancer for one year.

    "Brachytherapy - seed implant - for prostate cancer is rapidly becoming a treatment of choice for many men," according to radiation oncologist Jack Schocker, M.D. "So, it is a plus to have it available near home."

    Brachytherapy typically involves only five appointments. This convenience of five appointments is compared to the 25 to 40 visits over five to seven weeks that external beam radiation typically involves.

    "Our method of treatment is similar to what is done at most of the larger centers. Some smaller community hospitals do the procedure, but 'borrow' or 'rent' some of the technology or expertise. At Altoona, everything is done here, by our own full-time staff of well-trained and certified people. This includes everything from the ultrasound study, to the physics and planning, to the implant," Dr. Schocker said.

    A patient sees the radiation oncologist for a consultation, undergoes a pre-implantation study, during which the physicist and radiation therapist, using the latest in ultrasound technology, plot the best location for each seed. Depending on the size of the prostate, 60-125 seeds are implanted, Chief Medical Physicist Greg Price, M.S., said. The prostate gland continually moves, so the seeds are given one month to "settle." The radiation given off by the seeds is what eradicates the cancer. A CT scan is taken and a consultation held to go over the results. In all, it takes five visits.

    The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland, located in front of the rectum, just below the bladder, that plays an important role in the male reproductive system. The procedure to insert the seeds is done in the operating room with Dr. Schocker, the physicist, a radiation therapist and the patient's urologist present. Once the patient recovers sufficiently from the anesthesia, he can go home.

    Bill Deininger, 76, of Tipton chose to have permanent prostate seed implants when diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year. Bill's test result numbers fit the criteria that made him an ideal candidate for radioactive seed implantation. This therapy reduces the risks of potential side effects like impotence and urinary incontinence.

    An avid golfer at Sinking Valley Country Club, Bill also liked that brachytherapy involved only five appointments, compared to the 25 to 40 visits over five to seven weeks that external beam radiation typically involves.

    "I only missed two weeks of golf and that's only because the doctor said I had to take it easy," Bill said. "I felt like I could have played sooner."

    For men who don't meet the criteria or prefer an alternative, external beam radiation therapy with IMRT is an excellent alternative, Dr. Schocker said.

    IMRT stands for Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy and allows for stronger, more effective doses of radiation to be directed at a tumor while causing fewer side effects. It limits damage to surrounding tissue and organs, which makes it ideal for prostate treatment, in which the rectum and bladder are easy targets for stray radiation.

    "This is also done entirely in-house by our own staff and is another excellent treatment choice for prostate cancer," Dr. Schocker said.

    Prostate exams can be life-savers

    Most men shy away from their annual prostate exam, but Bill Deininger insisted on having his PSA blood test even when he had no symptoms.

    And it may have saved his life. The test revealed he had a one in four chance of having cancer. A digital rectal exam and a needle biopsy confirmed the diagnosis.

    The PSA blood test measures a protein (prostate-specific antigen) made by prostate cells. Elevated PSA levels may indicate a chance of prostate cancer. However, factors other than cancer can affect PSA levels, including an infection in the prostate, taking certain drugs and getting older. Men with a high PSA will need further tests to find out if they have cancer, specifically the digital rectal exam and needle biopsy.

    Digital rectal exam (DRE): The doctor inserts his gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate for irregularities or lumps. This exam is extremely effective in identifying a tumor and subsequently detecting cancer even in the absence of symptoms.

    Needle biopsy: This involves taking a small sample of prostatic tissue for examination under a microscope. This is the only test that conclusively confirms the presence of cancerous cells.





    June 13, 2005 - Altoona Regional Health System Debuts New Community Magazine

    Healthy Living Magazine, a quarterly publication, will be delivered via direct mail to 40,000 area homes this week as part of Altoona Regional Health System's continuing health education efforts, President/CEO Jim Barner said.

    "Through Healthy Living we will speak to all ages about health and wellness and how you and your family can get and stay healthy," Jim said. "We will do that by showcasing not only the people and services of Altoona Regional, but also by featuring your friends and neighbors who have come to us for their health care needs. Theirs are the stories that will make Healthy Living Magazine entertaining as well as informative."

    The magazine is published by the system's Marketing and Communications Department under the guidance of Senior Vice President Ron McConnell, who said, "Altoona Regional serves an area that extends to more than 20 counties in Central Pennsylvania. With more than 300 physicians and nearly 4,000 employees, and with two hospitals and a state-of-the-art outpatient surgery center, our system has a lot of stories to tell."

    The first issue includes articles on a Tipton man who chose a newly offered prostate cancer treatment, two highly skilled orthopedic trauma physicians and how to make sense of the new food pyramid. Regular features include the Healthy Living Program Calendar and Ask the Specialist, a question and answer session with a physician.





    June 3, 2005 - Altoona Hospital Campus Laboratory Accredited by College of American Pathologists

    The laboratory at the Altoona Hospital Campus of Altoona Regional Health System was awarded accreditation by the Commission on Laboratory Accreditation of the College of American Pathologists (CAP), based on the results of a recent on-site inspection.

    Accreditation is awarded based upon "the excellence of the services provided." The CAP program is designed to specifically ensure the highest standard of care for the laboratory's patients and is recognized by the federal government as being equal to or more stringent than the government's own inspection program.

    During the CAP accreditation process, inspectors examine the laboratory's records and quality control of procedures for the preceding two years, the entire staff's qualifications, the equipment, facilities, safety program and records as well as overall management. The Altoona Hospital Campus laboratory facility is among the 6,000 CAP-accredited laboratories nationwide. The Bon Secours Hospital Campus laboratory is also CAP-accredited.





    May 20, 2005 - ALTOONA REGIONAL HEALTH SYSTEM COMPLETES PLANNING PROCESS

    Board of Directors Commits To Investing $29 Million To Improve Community Health Care Altoona Hospital Campus To Develop Into A Critical Care Hospital and Bon Secours Hospital Campus Into A Medical/Surgical Hospital

    ALTOONA, PA - The Altoona Regional Health System Board of Directors has approved an extensive new Master Facility Plan, as well as other health system enhancements to better serve community needs. The changes and new services, which will create hundreds of construction jobs as well as new health care jobs, will be implemented over the next two years, costing approximately $29 million. Funds will come from a designated building capital and equipment fund.

    According to James W. Barner, President and CEO of Altoona Regional Health System, (photo right) "The planned changes throughout the health care system over the next two years represent a substantial investment by the board of directors into the community's health care system. These enhancements will improve care in our region and are possible because of the merger of these two great institutions."

    The Master Facility Plan is a two-phased plan. Phase one, which covers the period from now to 2010, is focused toward efficiently combining clinical services on the two hospital campuses of the newly-merged health care system.

    According to Barner, "Throughout the six-month extensive master facility planning process, our focus was on ensuring that all services were of the highest quality and organized to be patient and family friendly. This plan clearly accomplishes those goals!"

    The plan was developed by Hayes Large Architects LLP of Altoona, Pennsylvania, in conjunction with PDA, Inc. of Raleigh, North Carolina. The plan solicited significant input from leadership, physicians and staff at all levels, and considers facility update and replacement needs.

    Phase one efforts will position the Altoona Hospital Campus to become the critical care hospital within the health care system, providing medical and surgical intensive services such as heart surgery, trauma care, neurosurgery and cancer care. The Bon Secours Hospital Campus will be designated as the medical/surgical campus, as well as providing inpatient rehabilitation, transitional care, sleep lab services, occupational medicine, wound care services, and all surgical pre-testing for the system and other services.

    The clinical redistribution component of phase one will be completed within two years and cost approximately $14 million, a cost that was anticipated as part of the merger.

    As a component of phase one, the board of directors also approved plans to begin construction on a new outpatient imaging center at Station Medical Center. Focusing on patient convenience, predictable and quick scheduling, and superior customer service, the new $7 million outpatient imaging center is planned to open within the next 12 to 16 months. The center will be outfitted with the most advanced imaging technology in our region, including a 64-slice CT scanner, the latest in MRI imaging equipment, new mammography equipment, ultrasound and other radiology equipment.

    Also approved by the board was a phased replacement plan, costing nearly $5 million through fiscal year 2007, to update aging diagnostic imaging technology that now exists on both hospital campuses in order to provide world-class radiology services.

    The board also agreed to purchase a new $3 million digital imaging system. The technology commonly known as PACS, or Picture Archival and Communications System, will move Altoona Regional's imaging services into the state-of-the-art filmless environment. This cutting-edge technology will virtually eliminate the need for paper films (or X-rays as they are commonly called) since images will now be stored digitally.

    PACS will allow physicians to view patient images from their office, as well as consult with other physicians in other locations while viewing a single patient image. It is anticipated that PACS will be installed in early fall 2005.

    Another major enhancement for the health care system will be the creation of a new Urgent Care Center on the Bon Secours Campus. Taking the place of the existing emergency room, the new Urgent Care Center will open later this year and will treat patients quicker and more conveniently for less intensive medical needs such as minor cuts, sprained joints, colds and broken bones.

    Within 18 months, the Bon Secours Hospital Campus Urgent Care Center will be relocated to a new state-of-the-art Urgent Care Center that will be constructed at Station Medical Center. Urgent Care at Station Medical Center will offer patients quick and convenient access to physicians after the normal working hours of most primary care physicians, access to the new outpatient imaging center, and ease of parking.

    Phase two of the Master Facility Plan, which calls for an in-depth analysis of the system's options for consolidation of services onto one medical campus, has begun. Plagued with aging infrastructure on both existing hospital campuses, the analysis of phase two will determine the future location for health care services for 2010 and beyond. Due to the time needed to study, plan, design, and construct health care facilities, it is anticipated that the system will make a determination on a consolidated location within 12-24 months.

    SUMMARY AND DETAIL OF PLANNED CHANGES

    Phase I - Clinical Redistribution Highlights (completed within 24 months)
  • A focus on increasing the system's bed capacity from the current 437 to 492, with a focus on adding critical care, telemetry and observation beds.
  • Specific changes on the Altoona Hospital Campus will be the addition of eight to 10 critical care beds, 12 new telemetry beds in the E Building Sixth Floor, and renovation of the E Building Seventh Floor for a new outpatient treatment area.
  • The Bon Secours Hospital Campus Pavilion 3 will see the addition of 24 medical/surgical beds.
  • Consolidation of all cardiac catheterization labs and services to the Altoona Hospital campus.
  • An expansion of space and staffing in the emergency department on the Altoona Hospital Campus and the conversion of the Bon Secours Hospital Campus emergency room to an Urgent Care Center that will be open until a new Urgent Care Center is constructed at Station Medical Center.
  • Consolidation of the finance and business office functions to the Bon Secours Campus, and expansion and enhancements to the pharmacy on the Altoona Hospital Campus.
  • Consolidation of the sleep lab, occupational medicine, surgical pre-testing and most outpatient wound care to the Bon Secours Hospital Campus.
  • Phase I - New Service Offerings (completed within 24 months)
  • Construction of a new $7 million outpatient imaging center at Station Medical Center with this region's best imaging technology and a focus on patient convenience, predictable and quick patient scheduling and superior customer service.
  • Construction of a new $1 million Urgent Care Center at Station Medical Center that will take the place of the one on the Bon Secours Hospital Campus. The new center will offer quicker and more convenient care for less intensive medical needs.
  • Implementation of a new $3 million digital imaging system known as PACS, Picture Archival and Communications System, which will transform the system into a state-of-the-art filmless environment while also expediting and improving patient care.





  • May 17, 2005 - Hepatitis C Screening Part of Hep. C '05 Campaign in Conjunction with Appearance of Thelma King-Thiel.

    Altoona Regional Health System, in conjunction with the Blair County Healthy Community Partnership, a committee of the Blair County Health and Welfare Council, will sponsor a free hepatitis C blood screening as part of the "Hep. C '05 Campaign."

    The screening will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24, at Partnering for Health Services Clinic, B-Building, room 204 at Altoona Hospital Campus.

    The screening is free and confidential, and registration is NOT required. Screenings will be given on a first come/first serve basis. Call 889-6450 for more information.

    The Hep. C '05 Campaign began last year in response to the 215 new cases of the disease reported in Blair County the year before. The 2003 reports coincided with heroin use among substance abusers.

    Hepatitis C (HVC) is a virus that assails the liver, causing cirrhosis or scarring of the liver, liver failure and liver cancer, and is most often contracted through high-risk behaviors, such as intravenous drug use, tattoos and body piercing and sharing needles or razors with someone who might be infected.

    Other situations in which exposure could have occurred include dialysis, blood transfusions or solid organ transplants before 1992. Also, health care workers or individuals who work with blood have an increased risk of exposure, two of every 100 will contract the disease.

    Hep. C is known by monikers like "the ghost virus" and "the silent killer" for its ability to evade widespread media attention and even medical diagnosis despite being one of the most prevalent causes of chronic liver disease in the United States.

    By the year 2014 the disease HCV will be a pandemic, affecting an extraordinarily high number of people over a large geographic area- including Altoona and much of Blair County.

    This free, confidential hepatitis C screening coincides with the return to the region of "The Liver Lady" - Thelma King-Thiel, Hepatitis Foundation International founder, chairwoman and CEO.

    Mrs. King-Thiel will be a speaker at the 24th Maternal Child Symposium May 19 at The Casino at Lakemont, and is recognized for developing innovative communication techniques to motivate people to avoid liver-damaging activities and to adopt healthier lifestyle behaviors.





    May 16, 2005 - POPULAR HEALING MASS FOR THE SICK RETURNS TO BON SECOURS HOSPITAL CAMPUS

    All are invited to attend a special Healing Mass at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 22, in the Infant of Prague Chapel at the Education Center on the Bon Secours Hospital Campus of Altoona Regional Health System, 2621 8th Ave., Altoona.

    This popular Mass, the first since the November merger of Altoona and Bon Secours hospitals, is intended for all in the community who have been touched by cancer or any life-threatening diseases. It also is intended for those in need of physical, spiritual or emotional healing. Caregivers and family members are also warmly invited to attend.

    Mass includes sacramental anointing of the sick. Praise and worship music begin at 1:30 p.m.

    For more information, please contact the Bon Secours Hospital Campus Pastoral Care Department at 949-4323.


    April 15, 2005 - Altoona Regional Health System Sponsors Children's Health & Safety Festival at Cresson Lake Playhouse

    Altoona Regional Health System and Cresson Lake Playhouse are the sponsors of the fourth annual Children's Health and Safety Festival May 3-13 at Cresson Lake Playhouse, Ebensburg.

    About 3,000 children, ages 4 to 9, will view a theatrical production and attend a health fair with messages in the areas of physical health, environmental health and safety. "About 15 presenters are participating this year," Catherine M. Campbell, RN, BSN, coordinator Pediatric Outreach, Altoona Regional Health System, said.

    "Each year this event has grown in popularity. Last year we had children from nine counties attend," she said. "The weather always keeps us on our toes. We have survived torrential rains and snow. Still, the children learn about important health issues and have fun at the same time."

    "This has been a very successful partnership between Cresson Lake and Altoona Regional Health System," Elaine Mastalski, business director of Cresson Lake Playhouse, said.

    For more information, call the Playhouse at 814-472-4333.





    April 11, 2005 - ANNUAL GRIEF TELECONFERENCE SET FOR WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20, 2005

    The public is invited to attend an educational program on advance directives, entitled "Ethical Dilemmas at the End of Life," from 1-5 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, 2005, at the Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center, 1500 4th Ave. Altoona.

    Altoona Regional Health System, Home Nursing Agency Hospice and Contact Altoona are the local hosts for the National Hospice Foundation's annual national event. Participants will learn how to define, differentiate and demonstrate the interrelationship between morals, values, ethics and law in regard to end-of-life issues, often referred to as advance directives.

    CEUs available for nurses, social workers, clergy, psychologists, counselors, physicians, case managers and nursing home administrators. CEUs cost $25. Registration fee $10.

    To register and for more information call, 946-0531.

    Local panelists include:
  • Jack Jubala, Ph.D., is chief of psychological services at the Bon Secours Hospital Campus of Altoona Regional Health System.
  • Theodore E. Kiffer, Ph.D., serves as chaplain for Home Nursing Agency Hospice of Huntingdon County.
  • Russell P. Miller, M.D., is a family physician in Patton, Cambria County, and serves as the palliative care physician with Home Nursing Agency and on the ARHS board of directors.
  • Vicki L. Wertz, Esquire, is the in-house counsel/compliance officer for Altoona Regional Health System.






  • April 7, 2005 - MEDICAL DIRECTOR NAMED FOR ALTOONA REGIONAL SLEEP MEDICINE

    Timothy A. Lucas, M.D., has been appointed medical director of Sleep Medicine at Altoona Regional Health System

    Dr. Lucas will oversee the department and provide clinical expertise to ensure overall patient quality of care and satisfaction.

    Dr. Lucas is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine. He is also a diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. He is in practice with Altoona Lung Specialists, 801 Howard Ave., Altoona.

    Dr. Lucas received his medical education and fellowship training in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine - The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. He performed his residency training in Internal Medicine at The Pennsylvania State University Hospital - Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

    Dr. Lucas is a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Thoracic Society and the Pennsylvania Thoracic Society.




    March 30, 2005 - Altoona Regional Offers New Support Group for Those With Asperger's Disorder

    Altoona Regional Health System will offer a new support group for adults with Asperger's disorder and their family members, and parents of children with Asperger's disorder. The support group meets for the first time at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, 2005, in the 3F Conference Room, Altoona Hospital Campus.

    The new support group is called, "Living with Asperger's Disorder," and will be facilitated by Joyce Cunningham, a clinical social worker with Altoona Regional Health System Behavioral Health Services. It is the only support group for this segment of the autistic population in the area.

    Asperger's disorder, also called Asperger's syndrome, is a form of autism. Autism is a neurological disorder affecting brain function. It causes developmental disabilities that may range from mild to severe and become evident during the first three years of life. In general, a child or adult with autism experiences difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication, social interactions and leisure or play activities.

    Asperger's syndrome is considered to be on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum. People with Asperger's often have normal to above normal intelligence and experience difficulties in social and relationship skills. They often develop a strong, focused interest in a very narrow field. This special interest can often be channeled in a positive direction.

    Children often have difficulty making friends and become a target for bullies. As adults, a person with Asperger's may experience difficulty in the work place - not with job performance, but with relationships with coworkers. Both adults and children interpret language very literally, so jokes, teasing and sarcasm are misinterpreted and cause problems.

    "The focus of the support group will be to provide those most affected by Asperger's disorder with a safe place to share their feelings and to learn from one another. Living with Asperger's day to day is challenging both for the person who has the disorder and the people with whom he or she lives," says Mrs. Cunningham. "Learning positive coping skills and finding out what works can be very helpful in reducing anxiety and stress for all concerned."





    March 11, 2005 - Georganna Horell Hired as Risk Manager

    Georganna Horell, RN, BSN, CCM, BC, has been hired as risk manager at Altoona Regional Health System. Ms. Horell previously worked as a clinical educator in the Education Department on the Bon Secours Campus of ARHS.

    Ms. Horell graduated with a bachelor's degree in nursing from Penn State University in 1985. Upon graduation, she worked as a nurse in orthopedics at Bon Secours. She left Bon Secours to work at Altoona Hospital in the nursing float pool. She returned to Bon Secours in 1988 to work in critical care nursing. She then became a case manager with HealthForce, the worker's compensation insurance area of Bon Secours, before moving to the Education Department.






    February 11, 2005 - HEALTH SYSTEM STUDIES FACILITY OPTIONS FOR THE FUTURE

    Thanks to a very inclusive and extensive process that has involved not only architectural and planning consultants but hundreds of Altoona Regional Health System employees, the system is making progress on short- and long-term strategies for consolidation of services.

    One key conclusion of the study is that although the total space available on both the Altoona Hospital and Bon Secours Hospital campuses is sufficient to consolidate service lines, certain buildings are aging. Additionally, the study recognizes the parking problems at the Altoona Hospital campus.

    The priority of this planning process is to facilitate the distribution of services for the best patient care and access, according to James W. Barner, Altoona Regional president and chief executive officer.

    "We are very focused on ensuring that our facilities provide an environment for delivery of the highest quality services by our employees," Barner said. "We also remain focused on creating a hospital campus environment that is attractive to our customers, enjoyable for our employees and volunteers, and accommodating for our growth into the future."

    The short-term plan includes recommendations that would see the system through the next three to 10 years. It calls for service consolidations to be completed within three years to relieve departments currently facing capacity issues. It would consolidate either oncology services or elective orthopedic surgery on the Bon Secours campus. Either way, behavioral health services would be consolidated there.

    The long-term plan includes recommendations that would see the system through the next 10-plus years. It explores the desirability and feasibility of consolidating all services on the Altoona Hospital Campus or on a new site. The plan takes into consideration the prudence of investing in the existing, aging facilities.

    In addition, Altoona Regional is studying the possibility of consolidating all emergency services on the Altoona Hospital Campus and opening an urgent care center, either at the Bon Secours campus or another site. This would improve access for patients needing either emergency or urgent care.

    Regardless of the options chosen, both hospital campuses would maintain a variety of other substantial acute care services. The Bon Secours Hospital Campus would include medical-surgical, inpatient rehabilitation, transitional care and wound care. The Altoona Hospital Campus would include cardiac services, medical-surgical, neurosciences, pediatrics, OB-GYN and trauma.

    "This planning process and its outcomes are very important for the future of health care in our region," Barner said. "Be assured that as the planning options are decided and the details become available, we will share them."

    The planners and architects will have a draft plan for the system's board of directors to review this spring.





    February 2, 2005 - SAFE KIDS Blair County Offers Car Seat Inspections

    Feb. 13-19 is Child Passenger Safety Week

    SAFE KIDS Blair County will conduct car seat inspections on Feb. 17 at Pennsylvania State Police, Hollidaysburg, and on Feb. 18 at Thomas Chevrolet, Bedford, in observance of Child Passenger Safety Week, Feb. 13-19. The local inspections performed by certified child passenger safety technicians are among hundreds of Child Passenger Safety Week events held across the country. The technicians inspect the safety seats and educate parents and caregivers to install and adjust their car seats properly.

    "Think of it as a private lesson in the correct use of your child's car seat," says Sherry Turchetta, SAFE KIDS Blair County Coalition coordinator. On Feb. 17, the inspections are offered between 3 and 6 p.m. at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Hollidaysburg, located along North Juniata Street.

    Thomas Chevrolet is located along Route 22 North, Bedford. Inspections will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, on a drop-in basis.

    SAFE KIDS Blair County is one of more than 120 coalitions across the country launching or expanding partnerships with Chevrolet dealers during Child Passenger Safety Week this year. Chevy is the lead partner in the SAFE KIDS BUCKLE UP program, also supported by Sheetz, Martin Oil and Fiore Buick.

    Motor vehicle crashes are the leading killer of children under 14. "Under Pennsylvania law, all children under 8 years of age must be restrained in an appropriate child safety seat - whether in the family car, traveling with friends or relatives, or in a rental car or taxi," Turchetta says.

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 73 percent of all child passenger restraints - more than 80 percent of car seats and about 40 percent of booster seats - are used incorrectly. "It's a parent's responsibility to make sure a child's car seat is properly installed and adjusted. We're here to show you how. In a crash, a child restrained incorrectly is 3.5 times more likely to be seriously injured than a child who is properly restrained," Turchetta says.

    SAFE KIDS Blair County provides car seat inspections throughout the year as well. To find a car seat inspection site or certified technician near you, call 814-946-7802, or e-mail safekids@altoonaregional.org or visit www.safekids.org.

    An inspection is free and usually takes 20 to 30 minutes. Bring your child and the owner's manuals for your vehicle and your car seat.

    SAFE KIDS Blair County is part of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, the first and only national nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury - the number one killer of children ages 14 and under. More than 300 state and local SAFE KIDS coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico make up the campaign.

    SAFE KIDS BUCKLE UP is a national program developed by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and sponsored by Chevrolet and General Motors to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of properly restraining children on every ride.




    January 26, 2005 - NEW HEALTH SYSTEM REPORTS EXCEPTIONAL PROGRESS

    Cancer services, some heart services consolidated; leadership team in place


    ALTOONA, Pa. - Altoona Regional Health System is less than 90 days old and is making excellent progress on the implementation of its pre-merger plans and goals, according to Jim Barner, president/CEO.

    Formed by Altoona Hospital and Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital on Nov. 1, the new health system will use its considerable resources to enhance the quality and availability of every existing medical program and to offer new services when appropriate and feasible, Mr. Barner said.

    "It's very early in the process, and much of what is happening is in the area of planning," Mr. Barner said. "We are off to a great start and pleased with the progress to date."

    Some of the more visible and significant strides have been in heart and cancer care.
  • Open-heart surgery has been consolidated on the Altoona Hospital Campus, as planned. Heart catheterization services continue on both campuses, although the plan remains to consolidate all cardiology on the Altoona Hospital Campus. That move is pending the outcome of a master facility planning process (see below).
  • Cancer services have been consolidated on the Altoona Hospital Campus, also as planned. This required no physical plant changes. All outpatient radiation therapy and chemotherapy patients were carefully transitioned without interruption in their care.
  • Leadership is in place. The new board, formed equally from the boards of Altoona Hospital and Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital, has met four times; the administrative team (CEO and vice presidents) has been named, and all department directors are in place.
  • The medical staffs have united and adopted new bylaws. The new health care system board, through a resolution, recognized the work of the Physician Advisory Committee for guiding the unification process in an "exemplary manner" and providing the "vision and support necessary for a united medical staff to enhance medical care and services in our region."
  • The board of directors has endorsed a new quality committee structure to ensure that national standards are being followed for the highest level of quality care.
  • The Marketing and Communications and Medical Staff Services departments have been combined.
  • The majority of insurance contracts, including most of the largest ones, have been amended to include both hospital campuses.
  • The clinical ethics committees for both campuses are meeting as a joint committee.
  • In addition, the system is making clear progress on:
  • A master facility planning process, which will suggest the best use of existing health system facilities and should be completed in the next few months.
  • A medical staff development plan that will allow the board of directors to approach systematically the planning for the community's medical staff needs.
  • A process to begin development of the new mission, vision and values statements for Altoona Regional.
  • Continued cultural assessments and plans to ensure a smooth integration process.
  • "We expect many more great strides in the coming months as we build a new, strong health care system for this community," Mr. Barner said.

    He added that the health system's board remains committed to keeping the community informed as implementation of the merger proceeds. Regular updates will be provided to the community.





    January 5, 2005 - ALTOONA REGIONAL CELEBRATES NEW YEAR'S BABIES

    Altoona Regional Health System and Blair County welcomed its first baby of 2005, Kristian James Hoover, born at 12:24 a.m. Jan. 1.

    Kristian is the son of Karl and Brenda Hoover of Patton, Cambria County. To celebrate having the first baby of 2005 at Altoona Regional, the health system provided the following to the Hoovers:
  • To Brenda Hoover, a dozen red roses from Sunrise Floral & Gifts, Altoona, and a $50 gift certificate to the Logan Valley Mall.
  • To Karl Hoover, a $50 gift certificate to the mall.
  • To Kristian, a $200 U.S. Savings Bond and a newborn portrait by First Photo courtesy of the hospital.
  • Two other babies born on Jan. 1 also received gifts:
  • Elijah Andrew Zeth, son of Thomas and Mary Zeth of Martinsburg, Blair County, was born at 8:22 a.m.
  • Brandon Joseph Anna, son of Amber Marie Bennett and Andrew Craig Anna of Hastings, Cambria County, was born at 11:24 a.m.

  • Mary Zeth and Amber Bennett each received a half-dozen red roses and a $25 mall gift certificate;
  • Thomas Zeth and Andrew Anna each received a $25 mall gift certificate
  • And Elijah and Brandon each received a $75 U.S. Savings Bond and newborn portrait taken by First Photo courtesy of the hospital.
  • The last baby born in 2004 and his family also received prizes. Joseph Richard Walters, son of Wayne P. and Jody Walters of Portage, Cambria County, was born at 3:22 p.m. Dec. 31, 2004.
  • Mrs. Walters received a dozen red roses from Sunrise Floral & Gifts, Altoona, and a $50 gift certificate to the Logan Valley Mall
  • To Wayne Walters, a $50 gift certificate to the mall
  • To Joseph Walters, a $100 U.S. Savings Bond and a newborn portrait taken by First Photo newborn portrait courtesy of the hospital.
  • The Hoovers thought they might deliver the last baby of 2004. Instead, Kristian held off one day plus some all important minutes past his Dec. 30 due date.

    Late on the afternoon of Dec. 31, 2004, Mrs. Hoover's contractions were regular and between three and four minutes apart when they made the trip down the mountain. It would be her sixth delivery so they didn't want to wait too long before arriving at Altoona Regional. Then, Mrs. Hoover's labor just stopped. So, they went home.

    "So, we made the trip back up the mountain," Karl said. "Brenda wanted to nap. Well, we had just gotten settled when I heard this 'Oh, no' from upstairs.' Brenda's water had broken." After calling her doctor and repacking their car, the Hoovers headed for Altoona a second time.

    Having the first baby of 2005 hadn't entered their minds, Karl said. "She was prepped and ready to go when the ball came down in Times Square, New York City. "We celebrated with a quick kiss," said Karl, "and then said, 'Let's get to work'."

    Kristian weighed 7 pounds, 2.8 ounces and was 20 inches long. He joins the couple's three youngest children at home - all girls: Kelsey, Jessie and Morgan. The two oldest children, Shannon (Thiec) Williams and Robert Thiec, no longer live at home. Kristian, interestingly, became an uncle about six months before his birth when his oldest sister Shannon, 24, had a baby. Brenda and Karl know that their grandchild and youngest child will see a lot of each other. "They will grow up together and be good buddies," Karl said.

    Karl Hoover (right) holds his son, Kristian James Hoover, who is the first baby born in Blair County in 2005. As such, the family received several gifts from Altoona Regional Health System, represented by Ron McConnell, senior vice president of development, including a dozen red roses held by his mother Brenda Hoover.Joseph Richard Walters was the last baby born at Altoona Regional Health System in 2004. He is the son of Wayne (right) and Jody Walters of Portage, Cambria County. In the photo, Mrs. Walters receives a dozen red roses presented by Ron McConnell, senior vice president of development, from Altoona Regional Health System. The family also receives a newborn photo portrait, Logan Valley Mall gift certificates and a U.S. Savings Bond.
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