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Faith

 Perhaps it’s because we are approaching the shortest day of the year, but the evenings seem excessively long and lonely.  While I am discovering many advantages to living alone, the house sometimes feels achingly empty.  I miss him.  God, but I miss him.  However,  instead of focusing on what’s no more, I am determined to meet the challenge of this new life I’ve been given, praying only for the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.       It’s been said that “Beautiful light is born of darkness, so the faith that is born from conflict is often the strongest and best.”   That sums up these past months. I, at least, learn best from dealing with conflict and stressful situations. Those of us who have lived long enough have discovered for ourselves that a truly nurturing faith doesn’t come from gaining power, prestige, or possessions.  A faith born of suffering and challenge is a faith rooted from accepting the divine paradox:  it is by losing that we win and by letting go that we receive.        It took my husband’s dying to make me appreciate the truly good life we had. It is so easy to take something, someone for granted,  It was the tough times, rubbing against his stubbornness, his all too frequent “no’s,” our family addictions and illness,  that helped me develop a greater sense of self, the determination to pursue my path while respecting our family’s needs, that I was able to gain the awareness of what was truly important:  loving and being loved.   Looking back,  the times of greatest friction and struggle were also the times of greatest growth and insight.  Those were the times our combined determination to honor our marriage vows and each other motivated us to find ways to honor our differences and find better ways to meet our individual differences and needs.  Ours was definitely not a fairy tale marriage. There were times of togetherness and times of anger and aching separateness.  We were like two jagged stones having a mountain stream smooth away our rough edges.       Looking back,  I wouldn’t have it any other way. We learned so much from each other.  We helped each other grow and face times of darkness.  We discovered that love is more than romance.   Beautiful light was born of our times of conflict,  and the faith that helped him embrace his death and continues to sustain me,  was the gift of our shared conflicts and challenges.   Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper.

Public Meeting about Trail to Adams County Historical Society Facilities

The new facilities for the Adams County Historical Society (ACHS) are approximately two-tenths of a mile north of the Borough of Gettysburg, and sidewalks along Carlisle Street end at the borough line.  It is anticipated that many students from Gettysburg College and local residents will want to walk or ride a bicycle to the new facilities.  Residents and visitors throughout Gettysburg may want to ride a bicycle to the facilities.  However, there is no safe way to do this, and walking on the shoulder where the speed limit is 40 mph is not a viable option.  Consequently, Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc. (HABPI) has taken the lead in an effort to create a safe, multiuse biking and walking path from the Borough of Gettysburg to the new ACHS facilities on Route 34 (Biglerville Road).   Andrew Dalton from the ACHS is working with HABPI on this effort.  A feasibility study for the best location and design of the trail is being conducted by C.S. Davidson, Inc., the borough engineering firm.  The study is underway, and numerous meetings with stakeholders and major landowners nearby have been conducted.  The trail study is being funded by grants from the Robert C. Hoffman Endowment Trust and the South Mountain Partnership, along with funds from HABPI, which is a nonprofit organization based in Adams County whose mission is to develop safe, accessible walking and bicycling trails and paths in Adams County.   Once the feasibility study is completed, C.S. Davidson, Inc. will create a Trail Master Plan.  This plan will analyze costs and considerations for at least two possible routes.  The Master Plan will provide data that is needed to apply for grants to design and construct the trail.   A public meeting will be conducted on Wednesday, December 7, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Charlie Sterner Building at the Gettysburg Recreation park.  The purpose of the meeting is to present the results of the feasibility study, discuss recommendations, and get public comment on the study and recommendations, especially from residents who live near the area for the proposed trail.  Questions about the study and meeting can be emailed to – habpi2012@gmail.com.  

More than 4 in 5 pregnancy-related deaths are preventable in the US, and mental health is the leading cause

Rachel Diamond, Adler University Preventable failures in U.S. maternal health care result in far too many pregnancy-related deaths. Each year, approximately 700 parents die from pregnancy and childbirth complications. As such, the U.S. maternal mortality rate is more than double that of most other developed countries. The Department of Health and Human Services declared maternal deaths a public health crisis in December 2020. Such calls to action by the U.S. Surgeon General are reserved for only the most serious of public health crises. In October 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data gathered between 2017 and 2019 that further paints an alarming picture of maternal health in the U.S. The report concluded that a staggering 84% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. However, these numbers don’t even reflect how widespread this problem could be. At present, only 39 states have dedicated committees in place to review maternal deaths and determine whether they were preventable; of those, 36 states were included in the latest CDC data. I am a therapist and scholar specializing in mental health during the perinatal period, the time during pregnancy and postpartum. Research has long demonstrated significant mental health risks associated with pregnancy, childbirth and the year following childbirth. The CDC’s report now makes it clear that mental health conditions are an important factor in many of these preventable deaths. A closer look at the numbers The staggering number of preventable maternal deaths – 84% – from the CDC’s most recent report represents a 27% increase from the agency’s previous report, from 2008 to 2017. Of these pregnancy-related deaths, 22% occur during pregnancy, 13% during childbirth and 65% during the year following childbirth. This raises the obvious question: Why are so many preventable pregnancy-related deaths occurring in the U.S., and why is the number rising? For a pregnancy-related death to be categorized as preventable, a maternal mortality review committee must conclude there was some chance the death could have been avoided by at least one reasonable change related to the patient, community, provider, facility or systems of care. The most commonly identified factors in these preventable deaths have been those directly related to the patient or their support networks, followed next by providers and systems of care. While patient factors may be most frequently identified, they are often dependent on providers and systems of care. Take, for instance, the example of a new mother dying by suicide from a mental health condition, such as depression. Patient factors could include her lack of awareness about the warning signs of clinical depression, which she may have mistaken for difficulties with the transition to parenthood and perceived personal failures as a new parent. As is often the case, these factors would have directly related to the inaction of health care providers, such as a failure to screen for mental health concerns, delays in diagnosis and ineffective treatment. This type of breakdown – which is common – would have been made worse by poor coordination of care between providers across the health care system. This example illustrates the complexities of the failures and preventable outcomes in the maternal health care system. https://www.youtube.com/embed/ARNKVrWFDvc?wmode=transparent&start=0 The U.S. has a far higher rate of pregnancy-related deaths than other developed nations. The role of mental health In the CDC’s latest report, mental health conditions are the overall most frequent cause of pregnancy-related death. Approximately 23% of deaths are attributed to suicide, substance use disorder or are otherwise associated with a mental health condition. The next two leading causes are hemorrhage and cardiac conditions, which combined contribute to only slightly more deaths than mental health conditions, at about 14 and 13%, respectively. Research has long shown that 1 in 5 women suffer from mental health conditions during pregnancy and the postpartum period, and that this is also a time of increased risk for suicide. Yet, mental illness – namely, depression – is the most underdiagnosed obstetric complication in America. Despite some promising reductions in U.S. suicide rates in the general population over the last decade, maternal suicide has tripled during this same time period. As it relates to maternal substance use, this issue is also worsening. In recent years, almost all deaths from drug overdose during pregnancy and the postpartum period involved opioids. A review from 2007 to 2016 found that pregnancy-related deaths involving opioids more than doubled. Many of these issues stem from the fact that up to 80% of women with maternal mental health concerns are undiagnosed or untreated. Barriers to care In 2021, the first national data set of its kind showed that less than 20% of prenatal and postpartum patients were screened for depression. Only half of those who screened positive received follow-up care. Research has long demonstrated widespread barriers and gaps in maternal mental health care. Many health care providers do not screen for mental health concerns because they do not know where to refer a patient or how to treat the condition. In addition, only about 40% of new mothers even attend their postpartum visit to have the opportunity for detection. Non-attendance is more common among higher-risk populations of postpartum women, such as those who are socially and economically vulnerable and whose births are covered by Medicaid. Medicaid covers around 4 in 10 births. Through Medicaid benefits, pregnant women are covered for care related to pregnancy, birth and associated complications, but only up to 60 days postpartum. Not until 2021 did the American Rescue Plan Act begin extending Medicaid coverage up to one year postpartum. But as of November 2022, only 27 states have adopted the Medicaid extension. In the other states, new mothers lose postpartum coverage after just 60 days. This matters a great deal because low-income mothers are at a greater risk for postpartum depression, with reported rates as high as 40% to 60%. In addition, the recent CDC report showed that 30% of preventable pregnancy-related deaths happened between 43 and 365 days postpartum – which is also the time frame suicide most commonly occurs. Continued Medicaid expansion would reduce the number of uninsured new parents and rates of maternal mortality. Another challenging barrier to addressing maternal mental health is the criminalization of substance use during pregnancy. If seeking care exposes a pregnant person to the possibility of criminal or civil pentalties – including incarceration, involvement with child protective services and the prospect of separation from their baby – it will naturally dissuade them from seeking treatment. At this time, 24 states consider substance use during pregnancy to be child abuse, and 25 states require health care professionals to report suspected prenatal drug use. Likewise, there are also tremendous barriers in the postpartum period for mothers seeking substance use treatment, due in part to the lack of family-centered options. With all these barriers, many pregnant and new mothers may make the difficult decision to not engage in treatment during a critical window for intervention. Looking ahead While the information described above already paints a dire picture, the CDC data was collected prior to two major events: the COVID-19 pandemic and the fall of Roe v. Wade, which overturned nearly 50 years of abortion rights. Both of these events have exacerbated existing cracks in the health care system and, subsequently, worsened the maternal health in the U.S. In my view, without radical changes to maternal health care in the U.S., starting with how mental health is treated throughout pregnancy and postpartum, it’s likely parents will continue to die from causes that could otherwise be prevented. Rachel Diamond, Clinical Training DIrector and Assistant Professor of Couple and Family Therapy, Adler University This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

A Season for Depression

black ceramic mug with liquid close up photo

According to the National Weather Service, the winter solstice, or the shortest day of the year, will be on Wednesday, December 21st. Other meteorologists will cite the first day of December as the first day of meteorologic winter. Either way, individuals who experience a seasonal pattern of depression already know that the days have become much shorter, and they are well into a bout of recurring depression popularly referred to as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD. Their symptoms of depression most likely began to increase in late September or early October, with the shortening of the days moving into autumn. What is depression affected by seasonal changes exactly, and what can be done to reduce its effect is important to know this time of year. Here is a deeper dive into this kind of depression. First, let’s be clear about what is clinical depression or Major Depressive Disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5), the guide published by the American Psychiatric Association that therapists use to make a diagnosis, depression may be diagnosed if at least five symptoms have been present for a period of two consecutive weeks. Symptoms may include a down, depressed mood, a decrease of interest in previously enjoyable activities, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, along with problems sleeping that could be either too much sleep or an inability to sleep. Sometimes a depressed person may experience weight gain or weight loss as well. A very troubling symptom is recurrent thoughts of death. This last symptom is of great concern and highlights the seriousness of depression in general. The bottom line is that when major depression is present, there is significant impairment or distress. The second set of criteria to consider in determining if someone might be experiencing major depression begins with the lack of a medical condition or lack of substance abuse. Additionally, if the person has had a recent significant loss, such as the loss of a job or the death of a loved one.  This would include seasonal loss of employment. It is also important to note the absence as well of ever having a period of very high energy, also called a manic episode. Some health conditions can mimic depression, so it is important to see your primary care provider to get a clear diagnosis.    The final diagnostic feature for differentiating a seasonal depression pattern from clinical depression, therapists do not actually use the term “Seasonal Affective Disorder”, is that the depression has occurred over a period of two years with the symptoms subsiding or going away when the seasons change. Most often, the season pattern is over the winter months, with symptoms of depression going away when spring and summer arrive. However, sometimes it can also appear in summer for some individuals, and the depression is reduced with the beginning of autumn. To fully observe if there is a seasonal pattern to a person’s depression may require looking at a person’s whole life and not just the past year or two. Once it is certain that the diagnosis is major depression with a seasonal pattern, there are steps that can be taken to help reduce or manage the depression. Going to see the doctor is an important first step. Medications can help reduce the effects of depression for many people. Increasing exposure to light can also help. Light bulbs or a “lightbox” that mimics outdoor light used for a period of time daily throughout the winter months may cause changes in the brain that can assist in elevating the depressed mood. Of course, just getting outside when the weather permits and being physically active can also help. Seeking out a therapist who can assist in managing depression is also advised. Although it may be difficult, it is important to seek out activities that are positive and enjoyable. Working to build a positive lifestyle, including spending time with people you enjoy and getting routine exercise, are also basics to managing depression in general. Finally, once it is clear there is a reoccurring seasonal pattern to the depression, then plans can be made for how to cope with future bouts of depression by noting what does help and having a way to implement the plans when needed in future years. Whenever someone is depressed, the risk of suicide may increase. Help can be reached by going to any hospital emergency department or by calling the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Margaret H. Swartz, PsyD is a Licensed Psychologist in private practice at Yorlan Psychological Associates. She is also an active member of the Healthy Adams County Behavioral Health Taskforce.

Little Things

Sun streaming through the bedroom window called me awake this morning. Not ready to get up, I snuggled deeper into my bed and began listing all the little things welcoming me into this new day.  The feel of crisp clean sheets.  Sunshine.  A warm bedroom.  Being able to wiggle my toes.  The luxury of rolling over in my bed.  Comfortable clothes. Being able to walk to the bathroom.  An indoor bathroom.  Looking forward to my morning coffee.        Life, I find, is made up of a myriad of little things.  Over time, I’ve found that giving attention to minute details helps me focus on the bigger things, just as it’s the details that point to the central focus in a great painting.        Coming in from my walk I brewed another cup of coffee and reached into the refrigerator for some left-overs for my breakfast.  My living alone menu and routine has certainly shifted since he died. My breakfast is often left-overs while my evening meal may be two pieces of toast and an apple.  Who says we have to eat certain things at certain times?  The importance, I find, lies in appreciating my amazing luck in having any food at all.        It’s been two days since we celebrated Thanksgiving.  Cleaning up after the meal,  we divided up the left-overs. What a blessing to have enough for several more meals.  Perhaps it was feeling his loss so acutely on Thanksgiving evening, but I’ve become  aware of all the little things that fill each day, just as they did when he was alive;  those not so little little things that reassure me that life is still worth living, .such  as being blessed with family, friends, adequate resources, my church community, activities and hobbies I enjoy doing, responsibilities that tie me to the larger community.        Years of practicing gratitude are paying off now that I don’t have my partner to fill empty moments.  It’s a rare day that I find  the details of daily living meaningless.   Heating water for a cup of tea, a few minutes ago, I found myself remembering Kitty Kallen’s once popular:  “Blow me a kiss from across the room Say I look nice when I’m not Touch my hair as you pass my chair Little things mean a lot Give me your arm as we cross the street Call me at six on the dot A line a day when you’re far away Little things mean a lot Don’t have to buy me diamonds and pearls Champagne, sables and such I never cared much for diamonds and pearls But honestly honey, they just cost money Give me your hand when I’ve lost the way Give me your shoulder to cry on Whether the day is bright or gray give me your heart to rely on Send me the warmth of a secret smile To show me you haven’t forgot Now and forever, that always and ever Little things mean a lot.” Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper

Stories

I’ve been reading Erica Bauermeister’s delightful book, The Lost Art of Mixing.   It’s not the greatest piece of literature ever written.  The storyline is simple and uncomplicated, but her use of language and word pictures are heartwarming and vivid.  The Lost Art of Mixing is one of those books that leaves you feeling hopeful about the future and people in general.  It reminds us we can live happily within the confines of our brokenness as we come to know and love ourselves and others by sharing and listening to each other’s stories.         I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise that I love words.  Nothing brings me more pleasure than a well-written book.  I can get lost in the dance of words, discussions in which big words shoot across my mind like stars lighting up the sky.  I can get lost in descriptions so vivid I paint pictures in my mind.  Words will sneak past my defenses, touching something so deep I find tears streaming down my cheeks.       No matter how commonplace or exciting, everyone’s life is filled with unique and amazing stories.  Nothing makes us feel more loved than having another welcome and affirm our stories.  Far too often, life has made us feel as if our lives are not as exciting or interesting as others …  which then causes us to negate our experiences and feelings.  Yesterday’s birthday party was such a high for me primarily because we found ourselves telling stories about how we met our husbands, how we host family gatherings, how we feel about growing old. Just by sharing our stories, invisible walls crumbled, and we experienced a new closeness.  It no longer mattered that we didn’t go to the same church, voted for the same political candidates, or had the same life experiences.  We were joined by common threads in our stories.         My sister-in-law said her children gave her a long list of questions related to her growing up, family history, world events, etc.  They asked her to write down her responses to one question each week. She is finding joy in remembering and sharing her stories with her children and grandchildren.  She is finding comfort in, knowing they will better understand who she is and was through her stories which will not just give them a historical and emotional record of their family history but it is helping her know and better understand herself.       Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper.

HABPI Earns Grants for Creating a Trail to ACHS Facilities

Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc. (HABPI) has taken the lead in an effort to create a safe, multiuse biking and walking path from the Borough of Gettysburg to the new Adams County Historical Society Facilities on Route 34 (Biglerville Road). A feasibility study for the best location and design of the trail is being conducted by C.S. Davidson, Inc., the borough engineering firm. The study is underway with numerous meetings with major landowners. Once the possible route locations have been narrowed, a public meeting will be held to get public input, especially from nearby homeowners. The trail study is being funded by a grant from the Robert C. Hoffman Endowment Trust. Once the study is completed, C.S. Davidson, Inc. will create a Trail Master Plan. This plan will analyze costs and considerations for at least two possible routes. The Master Plan will provide data that is needed to apply for grants to design and construct the trail. The cost of the Master Plan is being paid by HABPI and a matching grant from the South Mountain Partnership (SMP). HABPI is a nonprofit organization based in Adams County whose mission is to develop safe, accessible walking and bicycling trails and paths in Adams County. The photo below shows the awarding of the SMP grant. L to R: Julia Chain, South Mountain Partnership Program Manager; Sarah Kipp, HABPI VP; Tom Jolin, HABPI Board Member; Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of PA DCNR.

Step 11 and Gratitude

The older I get, the more grateful I become.  The other night our little CoDa group worked on the 11th step.  “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for God’s will for our lives and the courage to carry that out.”   When I was younger, my prayers were mostly gimme prayers.  I thought that Jesus’ “whatever you ask for in my name,”  meant I was supposed to tell God what I wanted and needed to be happy and fulfilled.   World peace, for instance, or being accepted in the college of my choice or making the kids be more obedient.  With the passage of time and years in the program, I’ve come to understand that praying for God’s will for my life means letting go of the kite strings.  Nor does “God’s will” imply I will live happily ever or that bad things won’t happen to me.  God’s will for our lives, I believe,  means that we will find the inner resources we need to deal with what is happening, be that good or challenging.  It is experiencing gratitude and joy in the midst of pain and suffering.  It’s learning how to love rather than hate. Life happens.  My husband died.  My friend’s house burned down.  We both were battered and broken by our traumas, but it’s precisely because my husband died and her house burned down that we discovered each other as walking partners.  And, because we walk together each morning, we’re able to appreciate and share the beauty of our village and rural surroundings.  We’ve learned to encourage each other and experience the joy of a deepening friendship.  It’s stepping back so that someone else can flourish.  It is being grateful in and for all things. At this stage of my life, I see gratitude and resurrection as Siamese twins.  I don’t understand resurrection as so much about life after death, though it may be.  Resurrection, for me,  is the assurance that in spite of how it feels, there are no real endings, only beginnings; that pain is the prelude to joy; that death and rebirth is the essence of life.  Yes, I still find letting go to be a struggle.  My letting go is never a once-and-done, I find, but when I can finally let go of this or that piece, I always discover something new and beautiful taking its place.  I would give anything to have my husband back.  I miss him and the life we shared.  His absence leaves a big hole, but as I am able to say, “thy will be done”  each day brings me something new and beautiful…not to replace him, but to enhance this new stage of my journey.   Yesterday, for example, I noticed a budding cyclamen peeping out from under a frost-killed plant.  I quickly repotted it and brought it inside.  Today, an exceptionally dark and dreary November day,  that little plant is smiling at me, filling me with gratitude’s sunshine.  

7th SpiriTrustTurkey Trot 5K Open To All

After trotting on their own for two years, Spirit Trust Lutheran – The Village At Gettysburg – is opening its Turkey Trot to the community again this year. On Saturday, November 19th, they will host a 5k “race” at 8:30 a.m, followed by a “waddle” at 9:00 am for those who just want to get out for a walk that morning. Please bring shelf-stable food to be donated to local pantries as your entry fee. Strollers and dogs on a leash are fine. Spirit Trust residents and team members, please sign up at the receptionist; community members, please email your name, phone number, and preferred email address in case of cancellation. Prized will be awarded to the first-place male and female runners, and door prizes will be awarded from all entries and posted prior to the beginning of the “waddle.”

STILL PONDERING

I’m still pondering the who or whose “I am” question.   Descartes said, “I think, therefore, I am.”  I have no idea what that means. To be truthful, I can drive myself nuts asking questions such as, “who am I?” There are many ways to describe myself.  I am female.  I am a widow.    I am the mother of four amazing kids.  I am a retired pastor.  I am white.  I am American.  I am Mennonite.  I am the writer of this blog.  I am, I am, I am, all of which tell me things about myself but not who I am or whose I am.       Politicians tend to define people by political affiliation, race, educational level, urban, rural, white or blue collar,  conservative or liberal, ethnicity, religion, legal or illegal, etc..  Businesses see us as consumers whose value lies in our ability to buy their products.  But again, consuming is something we do, not who we are.   It is also our consumer society that defines individuals as successes or failures, determined by our buying power, prestige, and possessions.  One of my seminary professors challenged us to know ourselves by looking at the people with whom we associate, love, and share our values.  The key to discovering who we are, he said,  comes as we fill in the blanks to the statement:  “I am the one who is loved by…..”  “I am the one who is loved by…..”        I do know I have this tendency to overthink everything.  I can take something fairly simple and turn it into something complicated instead of accepting what is and going from there.  In the end, the closest I can come to an answer that satisfies me is; “ I am a beloved child of God.”  But then I have no idea what that means as I have no idea who or what God is, if God even is.  But then,  maybe I don’t have to know who I am or who or what God is.  Perhaps it’s enough to accept that I am, that there are Powers so much greater than we can envision or comprehend.  Maybe it’s enough to accept that life is complicated and mysterious and being able to love and be loved is an amazing gift.        I look out the window. White clouds drift lazily across a brilliant blue skyscape.  Red and yellow leaves drift lazily to the ground, their dying beauty so intense I find myself holding my breath in awe.   Does it even matter who I think I am or who I understand myself being connected to?   What if it’s enough to simply be aware in this present moment, able to drink in the miracle and majesty of what is,  grateful for this amazing thing we call life. Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper.

IT’S THAT GRATITUDE THING AGAIN

Mary Davis has a simple formula for dynamic living.  “Shine brightly.  See beauty.  Speak kindly.  Create joyfully.  Live thankfully.”  If there ever was a time when there are good reasons for unhappiness and despair, it is now.  Yet, precisely because these are challenging times, it is vitally important we implement Mary Davis’s suggestions.  Negative thinking just makes whatever is wrong seem that much worse.  Looking for the hidden strengths and opportunities in difficult times helps restore clarity and reveals better ways to respond.  As I’ve often shared, living thankfully is a choice.  It doesn’t just fall from the skies. We have to be very deliberate in developing the habit of gratitude.      See beauty, Mary Davis tells us.  The sun is shining.  Birds gobble bread crumbs at the feeder.  A fat squirrel runs across the driveway.  A painting by Leslie Varella graces the wall across from my blogging chair.  Sun shines through several stained glass art pieces created by our daughter.  House plants cluster in front of the windows. I see beauty everywhere I look.       Speak kindly. We too often save our good manners for friends and strangers and thoughtlessly dump our bad moods, criticism, and cutting remarks on family. It is easy to take our loved ones for granted and assume they know we love them, while rarely telling them ”I love you” or saying “thank you” for doing the dishes or taking out the garbage.  We humans are fragile beings and easily wounded.  A thoughtless remark can fester for years.  But, we can change.  We can do better.  It takes time and a lot of starting over, but we can do it.       Create joyfully.  Writing these blogs gives me a sense of satisfaction, of contributing to the betterment of the world in a small way.  My blogs become prayers for me, reminding me to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly.  Making quilts and comforters for Project Linus, the homeless, friends, and strangers is also deeply satisfying.  The process of creating something lovely has this way of opening me to life.        Live thankfully. One of the first things I do each morning is write three things for which I am grateful in my gratitude journal.  Focusing on gratitude, rather than my fears and concerns, helps to set the tone for my day.  When I tire of being positive, I remind myself that scientists claim a consistent practice of gratitude can be just as effective in treating depression as medication.         I’m not sure why Mary Davis started her list with “shine brightly.”  To me shining brightly is the end result of seeing beauty, speaking kindly, creating joyfully, and living thankfully. For me, shining brightly means treating others with respect and dignity, refraining from judging, looking for ways to bring out the best in myself and others.  As Henri Nouwen once wrote, “the discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” Joyce Shutt isthe author of STeps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper #gratitude

World Soul

John 1 opens with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Through him were all things made that were made, and the Word was the source of life, and this source brought light to all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.”      As I sat with my open Bible, I hope filled those few words.  No matter what we humans do, and we do some terrible things, we will never be able to snuff out the light that shines in the darkness.  That’s when I noticed a scribbled note I had written along the margin ….a note from years ago when I was in Seminary.   “The Greek word ‘logos’ can be translated as ‘World Soul.’  Vast. Mysterious.  Comprehensive.     There it is, the Word I need to hear, The Light shining through my emotional and spiritual darkness, my fears about where our world is heading.  In all and of all.   World Soul.  I turned back to my Bible and reread those familiar lines while substituting those two words that change everything;  World Soul for Word.       I often wonder what nuances of meaning we have lost over the years.  Times change.  Word meanings alter.  New technologies and information transform our understanding.  Lifestyles and cultures are vastly different.  We read Scripture through 21st-century eyes, not through the eyes of days long past. There is no way we can begin to comprehend what the Scriptures meant to folks over 2,000 years ago. Now, with the advent of the scientific age, we have become more literal, less able to think metaphorically, allegorically.        Reflecting on what all might be encompassed in the concept of World Soul, I felt hope spreading throughout my body.  I reread John 1 through a blur of tears, “In the beginning was World Soul, and World Soul was with God and World Soul was God.  Through World Soul were all things made that were made.  World Soul was the source of life and  World Soul brought light to all mankind.  World Soul shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put World soul out.”       Oh, how I need to believe there is something as profound as World Soul.  With so much partisanship, , and rancor tearing our precious world apart, we need to find that something that draws us together.  One of the reasons I appreciate The Chronicles of Narnia and many other fantasy books is the way authors give trees and plants and animals souls, life-influencing souls…something many of us sense in our pets.         World Soul. We are World Soul, not part of World Soul.  Perhaps that is the underlying message of the concept of Trinity.  No separation.  No divisions.  Everything is a part of everything.  One and the same. No better or worse.  No privileged races.  No national boundaries.  World Soul as the vast Cosmos.  World Soul as Creation.  World Soul as Life.  World Soul;  Light in the darkness, Light the darkness can never put out.  Amen and amen. Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper

Success and Gratitude

At our CoDa meeting, last night,  we talked about the 10th step.  That’s the step in which we take time each day to review our successes and our failures.  Unfortunately, most of us have been programmed to focus on our failures rather than our successes.  We’ve learned how to blame and shame ourselves when we stumble while downplaying our successes.  That’s why keeping a gratitude journal is so important for many of us. There is something about writing things down that makes them more real.   No matter how bad things may get, there will always be something for which we can be grateful, even if it is being inside on a rainy day or having a drink of water.  Gratitude,  like anything else,  increases the more we practice being grateful.  I’ve often thought that Jesus’s “they who have eyes but cannot see” is referring to our lack of gratitude.         We don’t have to wait to win the lottery before we practice gratitude!  Becoming grateful for the little stuff is the whole point of practicing gratitude.  That’s the underlying meaning behind “Give us this day our daily  bread.”   Jesus didn’t tell us to pray for unlimited riches and bread for our entire lifetime.  He told us to be grateful for having just enough today.  He encourages us to become ever more aware of just how many little things make up the tenor of our days.  When we obsess on our problems, that’s all we see.  When we practice gratitude, we become more and more aware of all the resources that are ours while, at the same time, no longer assuming life owes us anything.  Everything, after all,  is a gift.        When we talk about living in the moment,  we are talking about acknowledging all of the people and details that shape the foundation and backdrop of our lives.   I simply can’t conceive of life without my family and friends.. Now that my husband is gone, I regret not having thanked him more often for the steady support he gave me.  Every day, I thank both him and God that I am able to flourish today because of his faithfulness in the past.        I haven’t turned on the heat yet, I am using less water, doing without new clothing,  and eating simply, not because I am worried about money or feeling a need to sacrifice.  I’ve decided to fast in this new way for me:  by doing with less in many areas of my life. I find it too easy to ignore all of the seemingly little things that fill my days and make life comfortable.  Getting up in a chilly house reminds me there are people without warm homes.  Not letting the water run until it gets warm reminds me there are people who have no water at all.   When I find myself grumbling because I don’t have the right outfit,  I remind myself there are people who are lucky to have one change of clothing.  Then instead of feeling deprived and unhappy, I feel blessed and grateful.        The older I get, the more I understand The Apostle Paul’s injunction to be grateful in and for all things.  Without gratitude, life is empty.  We can be as pious as possible,  attending prayer meetings and worship services, doing acts of penitence, and constantly depriving ourselves, but without gratitude, they fall flat and leave us empty and unsatisfied.         Gratitude is the door to happiness.  Gratitude is the root of contentment.  Gratitude is serenity’s sister.  When we are grateful, there is little room for self-pity or grumbling,  for it’s gratitude that enables us to move into the pain that is so much a part of life to find God’s courage and grace awaiting us.  It is gratitude that helps us learn the lessons life has to teach us.  It is gratitude that transforms our failures into opportunities.  It is gratitude that turns fear into faith, and hopelessness into hope.   It is gratitude that transforms the finality of death into new life and new beginnings.  And for that, I am deeply and profoundly grateful. Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper

Healthy Adams County to screen film about bullying

Please join Healthy Adams County and Collaborating for Youth for a FREE screening of ‘The Upstanders’ created by indieflix/impactful films.  The film can be streamed for free and there will also be a free showing followed by a panel discussion at the Gettysburg Majestic Theater on Nov. 11 at 7:00 p.m. The Upstanders’ explores cyber-bullying, bullying among friends, families, co-workers and the brain science behind it all. The film highlights new laws and programs already reducing bullying in schools and shows us how we can learn to make a difference together to create systemic change. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Ticket reservations available by phone at (717) 337-8200 or in person at the Majestic Theater Box Office, 25 Carlisle St., Gettysburg. You can also view the film virtually anytime between November 2nd to November 9th by going to the following link: https://watch.eventive.org/…/play/6318f23c8ca9be00b45d4b06 For questions please call 717-337-4137 or email jgastley2@wellspan.org.

Tempting or Temptation

  There’s a phrase  in the familiar version of the Lord’s Prayer that troubles me:  “And lead us not into temptation.”  How or why would a loving God deliberately lead us into temptation?   It simply doesn’t make sense.  In fact, the more I delve into theology and religious literature and the answers we humans have used to shape life and  society, the less religious I become.  I simply can’t give my allegiance to a God who plays favorites, picks and chooses winners and losers, is downright tyrannical,  and a child abuser.  The God of my understanding has given us everything we need to flourish and succeed. To quote Michah, “What does God require of you, O Man, but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”  We are the ones who create our own living hell by the selfish choices we make.       Having said that, I still pray,  though most often prayers of gratitude.   The older I get, the deeper my faith, though, I no longer call myself a Christian. The church has become too legalistic, rigid, nationalistic, power hungry for me.  Instead, I long to be a Jesus follower.  Consequently,  I am careful about how I pray and for what I pray.  Something fell into place years ago when I began attending 12 step meetings,  as  I immediately resonated to the 11th step.  “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand God, seeking only God’s will for our lives and the courage to carry that out.”        I’ve never been able to  accept the almost universal understanding of the cross as God demanding a human sacrifice to serve as punishment for man’s sin.  The Cross makes more sense as the inevitable consequence of following Jesus’ example of non-violent problem solving and loving our enemies.  As one of our banners at church reads, “Nobody said it would be easy.”  Jim Lawson, one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement,  phrased it well.  “At the cross, Jesus spread out his arms and said, ‘Violence stops here.’ “   In the end refuting violence is what saves and transforms us as individuals and a society.      That ‘s some of why I struggle with “lead us not into temptation.”   God doesn’t need to place temptation in front of any of us.  Life does a very good job of that all by itself.  There are few moments in a day that we are not being pulled in a hundred different directions;  self interest, power and control, hoarding resources and money,  fear of suffering and pain,  loving comfort and luxury, judging others, etc.  These forces constantly pull us away from what we intuitively know is right and good…sharing with others, visiting the sick, caring for the prisoner, opening our homes, living with less, turning the other cheek… That’s why, when I pray the Lord’s Prayer, I say, “When we are tempted, deliver us from evil.”         Years ago I discovered a translation and/or a paraphrase of the Sermon on the Mount which included  the author’s version of the Lord’s Prayer:      “O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos, focus your light within us – make it useful.  Create your reign of unity now – Your one desire then acts with ours, as in all light, so in all forms.  Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.  Loose the cords of mistakes binding us, as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.  Don’t let surface things delude us, but free us from what holds us back.  From you is born all ruling will, the power and the life to do, the song that beautifies all, from age to age it renews.  Truly – power to these statements – may they be the ground from which all my actions grow.  Amen       “Don’t let surface things delude us, but free us from what holds Us back.  Now that is a prayer I can pray easily and often. Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper #Step 11   #prayer

Consequences

I have this intense urge to go upstairs and hide in my sewing room.  It’s a dreary day, following a series of dreary days, and my get up and go never got up with me this morning.   I’ve been feeling this way since our discussion on crime and punishment at church yesterday.  I’m bothered by how easy it is to agree that we don’t have the right to judge others, when we all are making judgments about others all of the time.   Like so much in life,  it is so much easier to express lofty ideas than to act on them.  Truth be told, I’m not sure how we avoid being judgmental as it is an almost automatic response, given we are limited by our own experiences and perceptions.   I’ve been rereading C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, great escape literature for anyone with a whimsical frame of mind.  There’s a short vignette in Prince Caspian that snags me every time I read it. The children are lost in a dense forest and only Lucy, the youngest one, sees a glimpse of Aslan, the great lion and Christ figure, who beckons her to follow him up and over a cliff.  When she tells the others she saw Aslan they don’t believe her and put her down. Afraid to strike out on her own she follows them even when it doesn’t feel good to her.  Consequently, they not only lose a lot of precious time, they come to a dead end and have to backtrack.  Of course, stories being stories, Aslan eventually appears to all of the children and Narnia is saved, but not before many are hurt and other painful things happen.   Life could be so much easier for everyone, I suspect, if we learned to trust our gut instincts rather than giving in to our fears, or doing what’s expected or makes us more comfortable in the short run.  Later when Lucy talks to Aslan, she wonders why might have happened if she’d followed him even if the others did not.  Aslan’s responds with, “You can never know what might have been, my child.  You can only learn what will be.” It’s our fears of what might be, of wanting guarantees, wanting to conform that keep us trapped in dysfunctional patterns and behaviors .  We’re afraid to let go of the familiar, of losing what little sense of control we might have, even when it is painful and does not achieve desired results.  It’s so much easier to blame others than to assume responsibility for our own choices and actions.  We want what we want without taking any risks or experiencing any negative consequences.  The older I get,  the more convinced I become that following Jesus has little to do with holding correct beliefs, but, like Lucy, following Him into the scary unknown…the Serenity Prayer’s “hardship is the pathway to peace.”    

Bicycle repair station installed in rec park

A new cycle repair station has been installed in the Gettysburg rec park.  The station allows cyclists to make minor repairs on their bikes and to pump up their tires. The station is located on the Biser trail near the parking area on S. Howard Ave. Funds for the station were raised by Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc. (HAPBI). HABPI board member Tom Jolin said the organization had successfully applied for funds to install the station from Saris Infrastructure, a corporation with offices in Madison WI, Ontario Canada, and the Netherlands. Saris kindly donated the complete system, which is valued at about $1,500. Jolin said HABPI donated little over $400 to the project, mainly for the concrete used in the installation. GARA and Gettysburg Borough donated the labor for  the installation. “It was a  nice community cooperative effort,” said Jolin.

PA Health Dept. moves to S. Franklin St.

The PA Health Dept. has opened at 225 S. Franklin St., Suite 2, in Gettysburg. For more information call 1-877-PAHEALTH (1-877-724-3258) or visit the website at www.health.pa.gov. The Pennsylvania Department of Health offers the following services: Immunizations for uninsured and underinsured adults Immunizations for children birth through 18 years of age who are: uninsured or underinsured; American Indian or Alaska Native; or enrolled in Medicaid COVID-19 vaccinations for all individuals 12 years of age and older Tuberculosis testing, treatment, and contact investigations Confidential testing and counseling for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Confidential testing, counseling, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) STD and HIV partner notification, referral, and treatment Communicable and vaccine-preventable disease investigations Reportable disease and outbreak investigations Animal bite and rabid animal investigations Case management of infants and children with elevated blood lead levels Case management of pregnant women who are positive for the hepatitis B virus and their babies Family education and blood testing of infants and children who have phenylketonuria (PKU) Educational presentations on: communicable and vaccine-preventable diseases, chronic diseases, Lyme disease, STD/HIV, immunizations, environmental health, public health preparedness, and a variety of other public health topics Educational presentations for pharmacists, healthcare providers, and the community on the opioid epidemic and naloxone standing order Technical support for school nurses Client referral to other state and local resources depending on need For more information call 1-877-PAHEALTH (1-877-724-3258) or visit the website at www.health.pa.gov

Gettysburg Heritage Festival will offer kids’ bicycle parade and community walk

The 2022 Gettysburg Heritage Festival on to be held on Sep. 18 in the Gettysburg rec park will host both a kid’s bicycle parade and a community walk along the Biser Trail. The entire day is loaded with great entertainment and wonderful food, making it a terrific community unity event. Bike decorating starts at 12:30 behind the stage, or you may decorate at home. Helmets are required—and you get a free can of Lucky Leaf Apple Juice, courtesy of Knouse Foods, just for wearing one! Kids 12 & Under: Register to Win a $350 gift card to Gettysburg Bicycle & Fitness! When your child registers at the Festival near the stage and rides their bike at the parade, they will automatically receive 5 entries for a raffle to win a $350 gift certificate from Gettysburg Bicycle and Fitness. If you ride your bike before the event and report to HABPI@ habpi2021@gmail.com with thechild’s name, age, adult contact email/phone and date of ride, you’ll earn one additional entry to win! If weather cancels the event on September 18, the $350 prize will still be given, chosen from those that registered by email. Limit one email entry per child

New bivalent COVID-19 boosters available in Adams

Updated COVID-19 booster vaccines are now available in Adams County at the Adams-Cumberland pharmacy in Biglerville. The updated shots, which were authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are designed to target the two most common Covid omicron subvariants – BA.4 and BA.5 — as well as the original version of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines can be administered to people who last received their primary vaccines or boosters at least two months prior. The updated vaccines are expected to help boost immunity to the variants that are now in wide circulation and prevent severe symptoms. Please see our report from The Conversation for more information on the new vaccines. Appointments to receive a vaccine at the Adams-Cumberland pharmacy may be made at https://acpharmacy.net/.

Will omicron-specific booster shots be more effective at combating COVID-19? 5 questions answered

Prakash Nagarkatti, University of South Carolina and Mitzi Nagarkatti, University of South Carolina On Sept. 1, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the use of updated COVID-19 booster shots that are specifically tailored to combat the two most prevalent omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5. The decision comes just a day after the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization of the shots. The CDC’s backing will enable a full roll-out of the reformulated vaccines to begin within days. The new booster shots – one by Moderna and another from Pfizer-BioNTech – come as more than 450 people are still dying of COVID-19 every day in the U.S. As of Aug. 31, 2022, only 48.5% of booster-eligible people in the U.S. have received their first booster shot, and just under 34% of those eligible have received their second. These low numbers may in part be influenced by people waiting for the newer versions of the vaccines to provide better protection. But booster shots have proven to be an essential layer of protection against COVID-19. Prakash Nagarkatti and Mitzi Nagarkatti are immunologists who study infectious disorders and how vaccines trigger different aspects of the immune system to fight infection. They weigh in on how the updated booster shots train the immune system and how protective they might be against COVID-19. 1. What is different about the updated booster shots? The newly authorized shots are the first updates to the original COVID-19 vaccines that were introduced in late 2020. They use the same mRNA technology as the original vaccines. The key difference between the original COVID-19 shots and the new “bivalent” version is that the latter consists of a mixture of mRNA that encodes the spike proteins of both the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the more recent omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5. As of late August 2022, the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants are dominant worldwide. In the U.S., currently 89% of COVID-19 infections are caused by BA.5 and 11% are caused by BA.4. The inability of the original vaccine strains to prevent reinfection and to trigger long-term protective immunity prompted the need for the reformulated vaccines. The booster shots target the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the omicron variant, as well as the original version of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 2. How does a bivalent vaccine trigger an immune response? In an actual COVID-19 infection, the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses its protruding spike protein to latch onto human cells and gain entry into cells. The spike protein triggers the production of so-called neutralizing antibodies, which bind to the spike protein and prevent the virus from invading other cells. But when the virus mutates, as we know that it does, the antibodies that were previously produced in response to the virus can no longer effectively bind to the newly mutated spike protein. In this respect, the SARS-CoV-2 virus acts like a chameleon – a master of disguise – by changing its body configuration and escaping recognition by the immune system. The ongoing viral mutations are why antibodies produced in response to the original vaccine strains have over time become less effective at fending off infections by new variants. The concept of bivalent vaccines aimed at protecting against two different strains of a virus is not new. For instance, Cervarix is an FDA-approved bivalent vaccine that provides protection against two different types of human papillomaviruses that cause cancer. 3. How protective will the new shots be against infection? There are as of yet no human studies on the efficacy of the new bivalent vaccine at preventing reinfections and providing long-term immune protection. However, in human clinical trials and laboratory studies, both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna found that their initial version of the bivalent vaccine, which was directed against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and an earlier omicron strain, BA.1, induced a strong immune response and longer protection against both the original strain and the BA.1 variant. In addition, the companies reported that the same early combination generated a significant antibody response against the newest omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, though this antibody response was lower than that seen against subvariant BA.1. Based on those results, in spring 2022 the FDA rejected the BA.1 bivalent boosters because the agency felt the boosters may fall short of providing sufficient protection against the newest strains, BA.4 and BA.5, which were by then spreading quickly throughout the U.S. and the world. So the FDA asked Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to develop bivalent vaccines specifically targeting BA.4 and BA.5, instead of BA.1. Because clinical trials are time-consuming, the FDA was willing to consider animal studies and other laboratory findings, such as the ability of antibodies to neutralize the virus, to decide whether to authorize the bivalent boosters. This decision has stirred up controversy over whether it is appropriate for the FDA to approve a booster without direct human data to support it. However, the FDA has stated that millions of people have safely received the mRNA vaccines – which were originally tested in humans – and that the changes in the mRNA sequences in the vaccines do not affect vaccine safety. Thus, it concluded that the bivalent vaccines are safe and that there is no need to wait for human clinical trials. It is also noteworthy that influenza vaccines are introduced each year based on prediction of the strain that is likely to be dominant, and such formulations do not undergo new clinical trials. Based on available evidence from the previous COVID-19 vaccines, we believe it is very likely that the new boosters will continue to offer strong protection from severe COVID-19 leading to hospitalization and death. But whether they will protect against reinfection and breakthrough infections remains to be seen. 4. Will it only be a booster shot? The bivalent vaccines can only be used as a booster shot at least two months after the completion of the primary series – or initial required shots – or following a previous booster shot. The Moderna bivalent vaccine is authorized for use in people 18 years of age, while the Pfizer bivalent vaccine is authorized for those 12 years of age and older. Because of the superiority of the bivalent vaccines, the FDA has also removed the use authorization for the original monovalent Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for booster purposes in individuals 18 years of age and older and 12 years of age and older, respectively. The new bivalent vaccines contain a lower dose of mRNA, and as such are meant to be used only as boosters and not in people who have never received a COVID-19 vaccination. 5. Will the new shots protect against future variants? How well the bivalent vaccines will perform in the face of new variants that might arise will depend on the nature of future spike protein mutations. If it is a minor mutation or set of mutations when compared to the original strain or to omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, the new shots will provide good protection. However, if a hypothetical new strain were to possess highly unique mutations in its spike protein, then it’s likely that it could once again dodge immune protection. On the flip side, the successful development of the updated vaccines demonstrates that the mRNA vaccine technology is nimble and innovative enough that – within a couple of months of the emergence of a new variant – it is now likely possible to develop and distribute new vaccines that are tailor-made to fight an emerging variant. This article has been updated to reflect the CDC’s endorsement of the reformulated shots. Prakash Nagarkatti, Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Carolina and Mitzi Nagarkatti, Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Carolina This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Featured image caption: In a matter of days, eligible people will be lining up to receive the newly formulated booster shot.

Bodymind and Mindbody

In our Western culture, we often think of the body’s health and the mind’s health as two distinct things. Back in 1975, Dr. Herbert Benson began to challenge that in The Relaxation Response. Around the same time, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn began helping patients with chronic pain and illness to cultivate mindfulness as a method of finding well-being, even in the presence of distress. We know now, through experience and science, that body and mind are seamlessly connected. We could easily call them bodymind or mindbody. When we’re upset, it has an impact on the body; and when the body is unwell, it affects our mood, thoughts and feelings, and other mental factors. The bodymind together forms our tool for interacting with the world and being able to cope with the difficulties we encounter in life. That said, we’re often not aware of mind and body at once. It’s probably fair to say that we spend a lot of our days “in our heads,” moving from one experience to the next without consciously realizing how each thing is impacting the body. When something in our experience is distressing (or even just annoying), we may not pick up on the instant increase in blood pressure and heart rate, or the contraction of our breathing and digestion. Or perhaps we’re aware of a pain in our backs or shoulders, but not conscious of the contribution it makes to depression and anxiety. Just as the mind and body can cause each other distress or dysfunction, an awareness of their interaction can be used as a tool for healing. This is really the basis for the international success of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course developed by Kabat-Zinn, who played a big role in bringing the healing power of mindfulness and meditation to the western world. The Gettysburg Hospital Foundation has sponsored mindfulness training in our community for several years now. During the pandemic, the training continued in an online format. Now, for the first time in two years, we are able to offer in-person training, thanks to the Foundation and to the YWCA for providing meeting space. Mindfulness and Stress Reduction will be offered in a series of three workshops. The workshops will cover the skills needed to cultivate a mindfulness practice, with each workshop building on the skills learned in the previous training—with a month between classes to rehearse and hone the practices at home. The workshops will be held at the YWCA on Sunday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on October 2, November 6, and December 4. You can register through Healthy Adams County by calling (717) 337-4137 or emailing jgastley2@wellspan.org.

WellSpan Health To Begin Offering Flu Vaccines Next Week

Flu vaccinations will once again be offered at WellSpan Health primary care practices and pharmacies beginning on Tuesday, September 6. Patients can begin scheduling appointments today using MyWellSpan or calling their office or pharmacy. You do not need to be an existing WellSpan patient to schedule a flu vaccine appointment.  “As we head into fall, now is the time to get your shot and protect yourself from the upcoming flu season,” said Dr. Mark Goedecker, WellSpan Health vice president and chief medical officer for primary care. “The flu is a very serious illness that can pose real risks, especially to the very young, the elderly and those with underlying conditions. Getting vaccinated is the first step to preventing not only getting the flu yourself, but also spreading it to those you love.”  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that, while relatively mild, the last flu season caused between 8 million to 13 million illnesses. It resulted in as many as 6 million medical visits, 170,000 hospitalizations, and 14,000 deaths in the U.S.   An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu and its potentially serious complications. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits, including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and the risk of flu-related death in children. It also helps to prevent the spread of flu to family and friends, including babies younger than 6 months who are too young to get a flu vaccine.   The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone ages 6 months and older. Pregnant women should get a vaccine to protect mom and baby.    In addition to getting the vaccine, doctors recommend following other practices to protect yourself.   “We can take a very valuable lesson from the recent past,” Goedecker says. “During the pandemic, the health practices most of us were following – washing our hands, covering our mouths when we cough, keeping our distance when we are ill, wearing a mask when we were sick or around others who were – helped to tamp down the flu season. Those practices are still very applicable to the upcoming cold weather months when we spend more time indoors and seasonal illnesses can spread rapidly. Protect yourself by getting the shot and following good hygiene practices for a safe winter and spring. It’s not too early to get your shot.”  If you are interested in receiving a flu vaccine, you can schedule an appointment via MyWellSpan today. About WellSpan Health WellSpan Health’s vision is to reimagine healthcare through the delivery of comprehensive, equitable health and wellness solutions throughout our continuum of care. As an integrated delivery system focused on leading in value-based care, we encompass nearly 1,900 employed providers, 220 locations, eight award-winning hospitals, home care and a behavioral health organization serving South Central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. With a team 20,000 strong, WellSpan experts provide a range of services, from wellness and employer services solutions to advanced care for complex medical and behavioral conditions. Our clinically integrated network of 2,600 aligned physicians and advanced practice providers is dedicated to providing the highest quality and safety, inspiring our patients and communities to be their healthiest. For more information, visit www.wellspan.org.

September is Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide is one of the most taboo topics in our society and yet talking about it is one of the most important things we can do to prevent it. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and many initiatives are occurring in Adams County to bring awareness of ways to prevent suicide. Suicides have been increasing in Pennsylvania over the past several decades. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the last two years have seen a slight decrease. In Adams County, for example, there were 16 deaths in 2020 and 12 deaths in 2021. This year seems to be on par with last year’s numbers. The majority of suicide deaths both nationally and in our county are among men over 45 with a gun in rural locations. Alcohol has often been consumed prior to the suicide. Suicide a preventable death. Asking if a friend or loved one is considering killing themselves is very uncomfortable, but learning to be able to ask our friends and family and listen to them about suicide is important. People who have tried to kill themselves and survived tell researchers that if someone had asked them what they were thinking about, it would have allowed them to share that they were having suicidal thoughts and they would have accepted help. It is important to note that asking a person about their suicidal thoughts does not give them the idea. That is quite frankly a misinformed myth. The Adams County Suicide Prevention Taskforce is taking several steps to increase local awareness of the problem and spread information about where to turn for help. On July 16, the federally mandated Crisis Lifeline 988 was launched. Individuals may use the 988 number to call, text, or chat at any time 24 hours a day. The area code of the phone used connects those reaching out to a local crisis line. Someone will be available on the other end of the line to respond to calls. This lifeline is not just available to those who are considering killing themselves, but to those who are seeking help for their family and friends. To spread awareness of this new 988 number, for the first time Healthy Adams County is partnering with Prevent Suicide PA to provide posters to many locations where people gather. The taskforce has shared information in the past during September by providing bars and restaurants with drink coasters that had the longer Suicide Prevention phone number. Local coffee shops, such as the Ragged Edge, has had cup sleeves with the previous helpline number in the past as well. The new posters will again be offered to bars and restaurants as well as churches to post in discreet locations. Because guns are often used in suicides, the taskforce also asks local gun shops to place posters in easily accessed locations. Most often the posters are placed in bathrooms where individuals can read the information without having to feel self-conscious. An important new element of the posters that will be used this year is a QR code that will connect the information needed directly to a person’s phone. Users may directly call for help from the website. There is also a chat option that allows individuals to connect directly with a counselor. Cards containing the same information as the posters will also be distributed. A feature of the 988 Crisis Lifeline site is the potential for special populations to connect to assistance specific to their needs. For example, Spanish resources are available from the top of the front page via the QR code. Likewise, the Veterans Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be accessed as well from the site or the 988 phone number. Some county businesses have already agreed to incorporate digital ads into their closed-circuit TV programing. The ads are then worked into the TV loop to be viewed in offices and business locations. A variety of other businesses are currently being approached to include the video ad in their programing. Schools have also been contacted to place posters. Gettysburg Area School District and the Littlestown School District have already expressed their desire to have posters available in their buildings. In October a film on bullying sponsored by Healthy Adams County will be presented at the Majestic Theater. The film has a segment that brings focus to suicide. The date for this event is not yet set. Finally, the county commissioners will be issuing a Suicide Prevention Proclamation on September 7 to proclaim September 2022 as “Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month.” The hope is that this will bring attention to county residents of the importance of prevention to reduce deaths from suicide. Crisis Resources: 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline; call or text 988; or to talk with someone over the computer visit 988lifeline.org/chat Veterans Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988, press 1 Spanish Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988, press 2

Murder Mystery Masquerade Gala to Benefit Women and Families

West Point Retreats is hosting a Murder Mystery Masquerade Gala to aid in the completion of the Hanover YWCA recreational center that will provide a space for a community health, a wellness studio, as well as an arts and craft studio. The event, to be held Sep. 3 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at The Ballroom On Broadway, 1649 Broadway, Hanover, will include a silent auction, wine pull, and dinner theater. For reservations or donations please email West Point Retreats at westpointretreats@gmail.com or call Amanda Serrano at 610-223-2934. West Point Retreats is a local 501(C)(3) nonprofit that supports women and their families. Since 2018 their mission has been to provide a safe, fun, engaging God-driven environment for women and their families in the community, encouraging and cultivating healthy relationships by providing discipleship, support, and inspiration. The organization provides free and low-cost activities to the community as well as food, clothing, and household items.

Rite Aid and WellSpan Health join forces to support Central Pennsylvania

Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD) and WellSpan Health, an integrated health system serving South Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland, today announced they have established a partnership to improve health outcomes for WellSpan’s patient population. Together, Rite Aid and WellSpan Health will share data and insights to close gaps in care and improve continuity across a broader continuum of services, increase immunizations, strengthen medication adherence, and promote in-store opportunities to educate customers on products and services that improve overall health and wellness. The collaboration is anticipated to include clinical services including preventative medicine and chronic disease management and innovative care models designed to improve access to care, quality, and reduce health care costs. “As part of our journey to redefine the modern pharmacy, we’re focused on developing deep, local collaborations to better serve our communities and improve health outcomes for our customers,” said Rite Aid President and CEO Heyward Donigan. “We look forward to supporting WellSpan Health providers in addressing the needs of their patient population.” “As we explore innovative solutions to create healthier outcomes and better access to care throughout our region, we are excited to collaborate with a partner who shares our vision,” said Roxanna Gapstur, PhD, RN, president and CEO, WellSpan Health. “Together, we have the opportunity to enhance medication adherence to our mutually shared patients and connect with new patients seeking a relationship with a trusted, healthcare provider.” Annually, Rite Aid serves over 100,000 customers with a WellSpan Health provider across its 45 locations within WellSpan Health’s service area in South Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland. The collaboration between Rite Aid and WellSpan Health seeks to focus on preventing, diagnosing, managing and treating illnesses through joint services and care models across the service area for WellSpan Health (Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York Counties in Pennsylvania; and Frederick and Washington Counties in Maryland). About Rite Aid CorporationRite Aid is a full-service pharmacy that improves health outcomes. Rite Aid is defining the modern pharmacy by meeting customer needs with a wide range of vehicles that offer convenience, including retail and delivery pharmacy, as well as services offered through our wholly owned subsidiaries, Elixir, Bartell Drugs and Health Dialog. Elixir, Rite Aid’s pharmacy benefits and services company, consists of accredited mail and specialty pharmacies, prescription discount programs and an industry leading adjudication platform to offer superior member experience and cost savings. Health Dialog provides healthcare coaching and disease management services via live online and phone health services. Regional chain Bartell Drugs has supported the health and wellness needs in the Seattle area for more than 130 years. Rite Aid employs more than 6,400 pharmacists and operates more than 2,350 retail pharmacy locations across 17 states. For more information, visit www.riteaid.com. About WellSpan Health WellSpan Health’s vision is to reimagine healthcare through the delivery of comprehensive, equitable health and wellness solutions throughout our continuum of care. As an integrated delivery system focused on leading in value-based care, we encompass nearly 1,900 employed providers, 220 locations, eight award-winning hospitals, home care and a behavioral health organization serving South Central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. With a team 20,000 strong, WellSpan experts provide a range of services, from wellness and employer services solutions to advanced care for complex medical and behavioral conditions. Our clinically integrated network of 2,600 aligned physicians and advanced practice providers is dedicated to providing the highest quality and safety, inspiring our patients and communities to be their healthiest. For more information, visit www.wellspan.org.

Wellspan reports highlight behavioral determinants of poor health

Wellspan Health has released its 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment  and its 2023–2025 Community Health Improvement Plan. The reports detail health trends in South Central Pennsylvania including Adams County, and highlight the concerns of doctors, patients, and community members. The reports indicate that although individual health behaviors including tobacco and alcohol use, diet, exercise, and sexual activities contribute to about 1/3 of negative individual health outcomes, community factors including education, job status, family, social support, and community safety contribute an even greater percentage. The reports focus on the role that social, demographic, behavioral, and economic issues play in the overall health of people in the region and address the ways WellSpan hopes to foster community change in the next five years to improve community health. While treatment for health problems is a priority for WellSpan, these reports emphasize that there are influences and barriers that impact health and lessen the need for treatment. “Efforts to educate people on the importance of exercise will do little to change behaviors if people lack safe, affordable, and accessible places to exercise,” the report says. The reports focus on Adams, Franklin, Lebanon, York, and some parts of Lancaster Counties, and are based on data from Wellspan’s patient database, a WellSpan health provider survey, local, state, and national databases, a community survey, and a special populations data collection that targeted underrepresented and marginalized communities. According to the reports, Adams is the 11th healthiest county in Pennsylvania, but struggles when it comes to obesity, poor eating, exercise, and mental health. Its population of around 105,000 has a median household income of $68,411, and 8% of residents live in poverty, which is concentrated in Gettysburg Borough. Compared to Pennsylvania averages, South-Central Pennsylvania can improve health by reducing the rate of adult smokers, reducing adult obesity, increasing access to locations for physical activity, decreasing the ratio of population to healthcare providers, providing adults with more post-secondary education, and reducing air pollution. Communities have also faced rising mental health issues and unprecedented death due to the pandemic. The Health Needs Assessment Report said the leading individual behaviors that lead to death and disability are diet, smoking and alcohol use, and a high body mass index (obesity). These behaviors lead to cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and circulatory disorders, and respiratory diseases. Important community factors include poverty, lack of transportation, failing behind on a rent or mortgage, skipping or reducing meals, facing unfair treatment, stress about money, economic hardship due to the Coronavirus, not trusting Coronavirus vaccines, and eating fast food three or more times in a week. In terms of demographic variables, the report pointed out racial disparities in income and housing opportunities for Blacks and Latinos, and said a lack of health insurance was twice as high among African Americans and 3 to 4 times as high among Latinos, in comparison to Whites. The reports say many Adams county residents lack health literacy, which may be because Adams county has the lowest rate of internet access among the counties assessed – about 40%. Many Adams county residents are elderly, with a median age of 43.6, higher than that in the neighboring counties. The number of residents under 20 years of age is declining across all counties. The report found relationships between age and eating fast food three or more times in a week, having a high-deductible health plan, economic hardship, not receiving a yearly physical exam, not receiving the Coronavirus vaccine, poor mental health, and economic worries. Adams county also had a higher rate of obesity in children, and 3 out of 10 people ages 10-17 are overweight or obese. Overall, there has been little change in the county’s behavioral health since the last report was published 2017, but respondents reported being less physically active and more overweight this year. Compared to neighboring counties, more people in Adams have enrolled in a health insurance plan, but fewer residents had a physical exam or dentist appointment in the last year. Based on the report, Gettysburg Hospital’s 2023-2025 Community Health Improvement Plan will prioritize healthcare access, health equity, mental health, addiction, public health, children’s health, and community health variables. As a whole for 2023-2025, WellSpan wants to provide communities with preventative care and overall healthy behaviors. They also hope to create safety net programs for marginalized communities so that they receive equitable care. For mental health, WellSpan wants to build-up community resilience, decrease pandemic exacerbated mental health issues, and address drug use and vaping. They hope to bridge gaps between resources, providers, treatment and patients, address food insecurity as a health problem, and design approaches to prevent poor health in marginalized communities. Finally, WellSpan hopes to ensure that children are healthy and ready or school, and to engage with the community to help all residents. WellSpan said $556.5 million was invested in subsidizing healthcare costs over the past 5 years and a $131,000 grant was established for children’s health. Wellspan also opened the first Specialized Treatment and Recovery Team (START) Clinic for mental health and addiction in York. WellSpan emphasized that the health of our communities is a collaborative effort. Their aim is to solve societal problems that contribute to poor health. For instance, they point to how better hygiene and sanitation practices throughout history have eradicated many illnesses. These practices were aimed at protecting society as a whole, rather than treating individuals.

Healthy Adams County announces 4th Annual Ice Cream Walk

The Healthy Adams County Physical Fitness Task Force has announced its 4th Annual Ice Cream Walk Fundraiser, scheduled for Tuesday August 23. The event occurs during the open hours of each of 8 participating downtown Gettysburg ice cream stores.  Tickets are $10 and are valid for one small (1.5 ounce) ice cream cone from any 5 of the 8 shops.  The entire route is 2 miles long, but 5 stores can be visited within just one mile of walking.  Proceeds support the free walks, hikes and 5K events sponsored by the taks force. Tickets can be purchased at Mr. G’s Gift Shop after July 16until the day of the event, or until sold out.  The task force thanks the participating ice cream shops for their generosity.

Opportunity knocks and healthy smoothies appear in Gettysburg

Have you ever been in Chicago and tried to buy an authentic Philly cheese steak? Or walked around downtown Gettysburg wishing there was a place you could purchase, say, a pair of nice high heels?  You probably know the feeling — neither can be done. Well, that’s exactly the dilemma Phil Letendre, his team members, and their customers found themselves in, leading them to come up with a team-based solution. As the owner of Gettysburg Performance Gym, Letendre values the feedback of his customers.  So when the members of his circle began to cry out for more classes, more space, along with somewhere they could find post-workout drinks and healthy smoothies, he saw an opportunity. The Gettysburg Smoothie Company arrived at 48 York St., just off the square, over the Memorial Day weekend. What was once a former yoga studio is now a quiet reprieve away from the noisy hustle and bustle of town, a shelter out of the blazing heat and sun of the day, and a cozy nook where you can relax as you rehydrate or even make your own ice cream boat. No need to feel guilty in this smoothie company though. With drinks like “Stars and Stripes, Revive” and “Super G,” the offerings are geared towards those looking to be health conscious and wanting only the best ingredients to refuel and recharge their bodies.  If you’re thinking a “healthy smoothie” couldn’t possibly be good, you’d be wrong; they are even better than they sound. That’s in part because the recipes come from the feedback the shop gets from the suggestions their customers give them (and because they are really good at what they do).  I tried a Blueberry Lagoon and was pleasantly pleased with every aspect of my smoothie – from its creamy texture, fresh fruit bites, ever so slight but somehow “just right” sweetness, to the feeling of actually being re-hydrated and refreshed during the hot day.  I can promise I will definitely be going back. The Gettysburg Smoothie Company wants its customers to feel as good about themselves. You can not only feel good in the knowledge that you’re helping support local businesses within your community, but also find comfort in the certainty that you are making healthy choices for yourself.  No ice is ever used and everything is made from a fruit base that is frozen on site and based on the concepts of hydration, amino acids, and electrolytes. Letendre said he is planning to bring more of the classes that are offered at his gym to the new site, as well as future yoga classes, and said he had many other ideas for partnering with other local businesses to “bring more, much more; complete with all the treats and offerings,” to the community.  But he wasn’t willing to spoil the surprise.  As a physical trainer and business owner, Letendre knows the value of hard work, sees the significance of teamwork, and recognizes that it takes the dedication of everyone to be successful in achieving one’s dreams. “Without my team none of this would have been possible,” he said. “It’s all about them; they are the reasons Gettysburg Smoothie Company is what it is today.”

What the World Needs Now

mindfulness printed paper near window

Almost 60 years ago, Dionne Warwick sang a popular song that opened with: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love… it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” Perhaps we can agree that those words are achingly true of our own times. The concept of mindfulness has been put forth in recent years as a technique for allowing us to co-exist with all the difficulty in our lives and in the world—and there is a lot of evidence suggesting that it’s effective. But how does love enter into that? In the popular media, mindfulness is usually described as paying attention to what is occurring in the present moment. The ability to focus and pay attention is generally associated with the mind, but true mindfulness also touches on qualities that include the heart. As helpful as mindfulness has been in our modern times, it might be even more powerful if we reconsidered the way we commonly understand it. First, mindfulness is a holistic practice for the whole person. It encompasses all of us: body, mind, and spirit. It is certainly true to say that mindfulness invites us into the present moment (and offers some techniques for calming ourselves), but it also calls us into the present moment with a particular set of attitudes or qualities. Mindfulness asks for an attitude of openness to whatever is arising in our experience. This openness doesn’t necessarily mean we like what we are seeing or hearing, but we’re able to accept its presence without being immediately judgmental or personally reactive. Coming to each experience with a calm curiosity allows us to insert a pause between stimulus and response so that we can see more clearly the whole picture of what is happening. Removing the instant leap to judgment can change the dynamic of every interaction. So, being mindful is not just learning techniques of meditation. It is a way of being in the world. And it’s not a way of being that comes easily in contemporary life. It requires commitment and practice to phase oneself into a mindset that is the opposite of the media-driven, multi-tasking, judgmental activities our society demands from us. However, when we make that commitment and begin to mindfully reshape the way we experience our lives, we can discover, maybe for the first time, the compassion that comes with kindly awareness. This is compassion that we can extend both to ourselves and to others. There has been a great deal of research in the past few decades about the efficacy of mindfulness practices for addressing anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and myriad other maladies. More recently, western scholars have begun to look at the health benefits of practices that specifically target the development of compassion. Of course, that isn’t breaking news to the generations of meditators and clerics around the globe who have made compassion central to their worldview and practice. Most people are very self-critical. Even people who appear confident or even braggadocious are often driven by underlying feelings of self-doubt. If we’re able to perform a healthy critique of ourselves and resolve to improve, we can certainly grow from that. However, much of what we hear from our inner critics is not helpful but harmful. Self-compassion practices can train us to be more aware of the true nature of what we hear from our inner voice, and it can encourage us to practice kindness instead. The world is desperately in need of love and compassion now, and so are we all. If you would like to learn more about how to develop it yourself, you can explore the website of Drs. Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer (https://self-compassion.org) or look at positivepsychology.com/mindful-self-compassion. There is also a helpful Ted Talk on YouTube called “The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion. Locally, Healthy Adams County and the Gettysburg Hospital Foundation will continue mindfulness training in the fall. This year, the training will include more content about compassion practices, with the intention of cultivating more ease in our bodies, minds, and hearts.

Collaborating for Youth Virtual Town Meeting

Adams County’s Collaborating for Youth (CFY) will be hosting a FREE and virtual Town Hall Meeting on Monday, May 23 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.   The event will take place virtually on Zoom – please visit www.cfygettysburg.com for more information on how to access this event.  The Town Hall Meeting is entitled “Youth Voices – Emerging From Covid” and is the first of a three-part series. CFY will present the 2021 Pennsylvania Youth Survey data results and trends of Adams County youth.  This first event will feature drug & alcohol trends, the second event will be on youth mental health, held on June 27 and the third will be about risk & protective factors and youth attitudes held on July 25. All three events will be on zoom and will be at 6 p.m.  The three events are open to all Adams County residents interested in learning about this important information. According to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency website:  “Since 1989, the Commonwealth has conducted a survey of school students in the 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades to learn about their behavior, attitudes and knowledge concerning alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and violence. The ‘Pennsylvania Youth Survey,’ or PAYS, is sponsored and conducted every two years by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.  The data gathered in PAYS serve two primary needs. First, the results provide school administrators, state agency directors, legislators and others with critical information concerning the changes in patterns of the use and abuse of these harmful substances and behaviors. Second, the survey assesses risk factors that are related to these behaviors and the protective factors that help guard against them. This information allows community leaders to direct prevention resources to areas where they are likely to have the greatest impact.”  Collaborating for Youth has worked with the school districts and community agencies in Adams County to analyze this data to understand the unique trends of Adams County Youth and to seek out needed services within the area. Collaborating For Youth is Adams County’s community-based, data-driven coalition that works to support positive youth development and substance-free, positive futures. For over 20 years CFY has continued to grow by supporting services and engaging new community groups to assure that their coalition is driven by the voices in the community they seek to serve.  CFY is located at the Center for Youth and Community Development on 233 West High Street in Gettysburg, PA. 

CFY sponsors “Prevention Happens Here” week

National Prevention Week (NPW) is an annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness and action around substance use prevention and the promotion of positive mental health. This year, this national initiative, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will take place May 8-14.  Various events and promotions of Prevention Week are planned across the nation, guided in Pennsylvania by the Commonwealth Prevention Alliance and locally, through the Collaborating For Youth (CFY) coalition. The theme of the 2022 Prevention Week is “Prevention Happens Here.”  In Adams County, this could never be more true! Collaborating For Youth is Adams County’s community-based, data-driven coalition that works to support positive youth development and substance free, positive futures. If you’ve had youth in area schools over the past two decades, chances are a CFY program or project touched their lives.  CFY was born out of a desire on the part of community residents and leaders to make community-wide changes which would improve the lives and futures of youth in Adams County.  A coalition was formed which included 20-30 members including schools, churches, government, not for profits, health care, parents, and interested citizens. The group was interested in doing something big that would have an impact for years to come. That was over 20 years ago and CFY is growing, supporting more services than ever and engaging new community groups to assure that we are driven by the voices in our community we seek to serve. This week, in observance of prevention week Collaborating For Youth highlights local efforts to support substance free youth and support positive youth development. Our activities help communities across the county and are possible because we have wide-spread support in the Adams County community— one that truly cares about residents, especially youth.  We will be discussing concepts like youth leadership, equity, youth mental health and resilience, overdose prevention, and our vision for the next 20 years.  We look forward to furthering a positive dialogue around our region’s most valuable asset— our people.  We hope you will join us in celebrating prevention this week.  For more information visit www.cfygettysburg.com.

Department of Health Provides Monthly Update on COVID-19 Trends  

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has provided a summary of COVID-19 information for April 2022.  “While COVID-19 has not gone away, the department continues to encourage Pennsylvanians to use good public health practices in their daily lives. All of us are empowered to protect ourselves and our families by getting up to date with vaccines, getting tested, taking appropriate action if we test positive, and wearing masks as appropriate to protect those around us,” said Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Denise Johnson. “The department continues to be responsive to the virus by evaluating COVID-19 trends in our communities.”  Residents are encouraged to use the CDC’s community level tracker website to see the level of community transmission by county and find recommendations to prevent spreading the virus. April Update  The following summary is provided to reflect the trends between April 1 to 30, 2022: Following the CDC approval of second doses, there was a large increase in total vaccinations for April – more than doubling March’s total vaccinations. A total of 521,066 COVID-19 vaccines were administered averaging 17,369 doses per day including:  83,124 additional doses,  291,809 second additional doses, and  10,361 pediatric doses. A total of 39,981 new COVID-19 cases were reported averaging 1,333 per day in April.  The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 on May 1 totaled 651 patients, 193 patients higher than reported on April 1. There were 403 deaths attributed to COVID-19 identified in the Pennsylvania death registry averaging about 14 deaths per day in April. The Department of Health continues to provide extensive data on a weekly basis via the COVID-19 dashboard and the vaccine dashboard.

Hispanic community celebrates family health at inaugural “Celebrate Your Health” day

Hispanic Health Fair May 2022

Dozens of Hispanic families came to the Ballroom at Gettysburg College on Sunday for the first ever “Celebrate your Health Day.” The event, sponsored by Collaborating for Youth, Wellspan, Casa de Cultura, and Amerihealth Caritas, included an obstacle course, bouncy house, and games for children, as well as crafts, yoga, dance, fitness training. Also available were mammograms provided by Wellspan and pediatric COVID vaccinations, COVID booster shots, blood pressure monitoring, and blood sugar screenings provided by the PA Dept. of Health. The event was also filled with tables staffed by local organizations that provided information to help people improve their mental and physical health. “My goal was to reimagine an event that would take place every year prior to Covid” said Latino community outreach coordinator Grace Bushway from the college’s Center for Public Service. Bushway collaborated with Wellspan Health Educator Yeimi Gagliardi and others to create the event. Gagliardi said her mission is to make everyone aware of the resources they have access to and make sure they make their physical and mental health a priority. Gagliardi said immigrant communities are often unaware of the resources in their community and their rights regarding services, so they shy away from seeking help. Through events like these they can receive the information they need to receive needed medical attention. Gagliardi focuses on teaching individuals how to access services such as health care, translation services, and transportation services to fulfill their health care needs. “We are lucky to have two federally qualified health centers here in Adams County that provide services to anyone regardless of their ethnicity or legal status,” she said. “If anyone is looking for further information regarding health care, they can always reach out to me, and I can point them in the right direction. I am also a member of the Latina Services Tasks Force linked with Healthy Adams County and we hold a Thursday night Zoom meeting to spread new information. To join these zoom meetings all you have to do is email me and I will send over the link,” said Gagliardi. Gagliardi can be contacted at Ygagliardi@wellspan.org. A complete list of organizations that participated in the health day: Adams County Head Start, Central PA Food Bank, Childrens Health and Nutrition Tasks force, Collaborating for Youth, Dance Fitness, HACC, Central PA Community College, Health Adams County, Keystone Agriculture Worker Program, Luv Yourself Yoga, Migrant Education Program IU5, PA Department of Health, Pathstone, PA immigrant Resource Center, ProtectPA, The Gleaning Project, VIDA Charter School, YWCA Hanover Safe Home, and WellSpan Mobile Mammography.

La comunidad hispana celebra la salud familiar en el día inaugural “Celebra tu salud”

Hispanic Health Fair May 2022

Docenas de familias hispanas acudieron al salón de baile de Gettysburg College el domingo para el primer “Día de celebración de la salud”. El evento, patrocinado por Collaborating for Youth, Wellspan, Casa de Cultura y Amerihealth Caritas, incluyó una carrera de obstáculos, una casa hinchable y juegos para niños, así como manualidades, yoga, danza y entrenamiento físico. También estaban disponibles las mamografías proporcionadas por Wellspan y las vacunas pediátricas contra el COVID, las vacunas de refuerzo contra el COVID, el control de la presión arterial y los exámenes de azúcar en la sangre proporcionados por el Departamento de Salud de Pensilvania. El evento también se llenó de mesas atendidas por organizaciones locales que brindaron información para ayudar a las personas a mejorar su salud mental y física. “Mi objetivo era volver a imaginar un evento que se llevaría a cabo todos los años antes de Covid”, dijo la coordinadora de alcance comunitario latino Grace Bushway del Centro de Servicio Público de la universidad. Bushway colaboró ​​con el educador de salud de Wellspan Yeimi Gagliardi y otros para crear el evento. Gagliardi dijo que su misión es concienciar a todos sobre los recursos a los que tienen acceso y asegurarse de que su salud física y mental sea una prioridad. Gagliardi dijo que las comunidades de inmigrantes a menudo desconocen los recursos en su comunidad y sus derechos con respecto a los servicios, por lo que evitan buscar ayuda. A través de eventos como estos pueden recibir la información que necesitan para recibir la atención médica necesaria. Gagliardi se enfoca en enseñar a las personas cómo acceder a servicios como atención médica, servicios de traducción y servicios de transporte para satisfacer sus necesidades de atención médica. “Tenemos la suerte de tener dos centros de salud calificados por el gobierno federal aquí en el condado de Adams que brindan servicios a cualquier persona, independientemente de su origen étnico o estado legal”, dijo. “Si alguien está buscando más información sobre el cuidado de la salud, siempre puede comunicarse conmigo y puedo indicarle la dirección correcta. También soy miembro del Grupo de trabajo de servicios para latinas vinculado con el condado de Healthy Adams y realizamos una reunión de Zoom los jueves por la noche para difundir nueva información. Para unirse a estas reuniones de Zoom, todo lo que tiene que hacer es enviarme un correo electrónico y le enviaré el enlace”, dijo Gagliardi. Se puede contactar a Gagliardi en Ygagliardi@wellspan.org. Una lista completa de las organizaciones que participaron en el día de la salud: Head Start del condado de Adams, banco de alimentos de PA central, grupo de trabajo de salud y nutrición para niños, colaboración para la juventud, danza y acondicionamiento físico, HACC, universidad comunitaria de PA central, salud del condado de Adams, programa de trabajadores agrícolas de Keystone, Luv Yourself Yoga, programa de educación para inmigrantes IU5, PA Departamento de Salud, Pathstone, Centro de Recursos para inmigrantes de PA, ProtectPA, The Gleaning Project, VIDA Charter School, YWCA Hanover Safe Home y WellSpan Mobile Mammography.

Gettysburg For Gun Sense remembers those lost to handgun violence

Gettysburg for Gun Sense held a memorial walk on Saturday afternoon to commemorate those killed by guns and spread awareness of the national gun violence epidemic.  Since 2015, the local organization has studied the gun violence in the U.S. and advocated for public health solutions to the crisis. The organization distributes safe gun storage information and works for appropriate background checks. The group met at Christ Lutheran Church on Chambersburg St. and, after hearing talks on the role of guns in suicide and suicide prevention training, held a prayer vigil. The group then marched to Prince of Peace Episcopal Church on High St. In 2020 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control. That figure includes gun murders and gun suicides. About half of the deaths – 24,292 –  were suicides.

Megan Shreve wins national Excellence in Governance award

WellSpan Health has announced that Megan Shreve, Chair of WellSpan Health’s Board of Directors, has won the Excellence in Governance award presented by Modern Healthcare, a national industry leader in the healthcare news and information community. The award recognizes influential individuals who foster advancement in culture, mission and performance through their leadership on healthcare organization boards of directors. Shreve is one of only 14 individuals across the country to be named to the 2022 list. “Megan’s leadership consistently drives our organization forward to live our vision of being a trusted partner,” said Roxanna Gapstur Ph.D., R.N., President & CEO, WellSpan Health. “She has a deep sense of pride in WellSpan Health’s mission to provide exceptional care for all. Her support of a high-performing governance culture and future-focused strategic board leadership has guided WellSpan’s success in South Central Pennsylvania.” Shreve has been a part of WellSpan Health governance for more than a decade. She became board chair in 2021 and led the evolution of a best-practice governance structure. Since taking the role, she has been a strong advocate for increasing board diversity so that it more closely represents the communities WellSpan Health serves. Today, WellSpan Health’s Board of Directors comprises 17 members, selected through a competency-based assessment and commitment to the mission of the organization. “Our diverse and dynamic group of board members brings decades of experience across a variety of fields. They have positioned the health system to make our strategic goals a reality,” said Shreve. “Being well-connected across our communities has been a vital part of our plan. It ensures we are meeting the needs of individuals right where they are, with resources and programs that help each of us live our best lives.” Her strong leadership has guided WellSpan Health to reimagine healthcare in our region, supporting innovative ideas which position the health system as a leader, all while guiding it through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has on our communities. Shreve, who resides in Adams County, is also the chief executive officer of the South Central Community Action Programs (SCCAP), a non-profit organization that provides critical human services and community engagement work in the region. She has been actively involved with WellSpan Health since 2010, previously serving on several WellSpan boards, including the Gettysburg Hospital Board and the WellSpan Planning Committee. To learn more about WellSpan’s mission and vision, visit www.WellSpan.org/About.

Wellspan loosens visitation and mask restrictions

Effective Monday, April 4, due to the continuing decline of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across south central Pennsylvania, WellSpan care facilities are modifying many COVID-19 guidelines for patients and visitors. Patient Visitation WellSpan is allowing open visitation of patients, with the exception of patients who are COVID-19 positive or suspected of being positive pending test results.   COVID-19 positive or pending hospitalized patients may designate two support persons for visitation. Visitation by one designated support person at a time will be allowed. All approved visitors will be provided with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will be worn during the duration of the patient visit. People who are sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not visit patients. Mask Wearing Following the direction of Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Pennsylvania Department of Health, WellSpan is modifying guidelines regarding mask wearing in healthcare facilities. With the exception of some locations, patients and visitors who are asymptomatic and up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations are not required to wear a mask when entering a care facility. Signs will be posted in those locations indicating masking is required for all patients and visitors. To be considered up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, a person needs to be vaccinated and boosted when eligible.  People seeking care at hospital emergency departments, urgent care sites, and care practices who are sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should wear a mask.   Visitors who are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations should wear a mask when entering a healthcare facility. Safety Remains WellSpan’s Top Priority WellSpan will continue to monitor the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the community and will adjust all policies as needed to continue to protect our patients and our teams. To protect yourself, your family, and our communities, remember the simple, effective steps to stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities:   Follow face masking and social distancing guidelines.  Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.  Be up to date with the COVID-19 vaccine.  For more information about COVID-19 visit WellSpan.org/COVID19.

Reduce stress through free online mindfulness programs

Sometimes life seems like a series of stressful events strung together over time. Many of us have felt that way, especially over the last few years of struggling with the demands of the pandemic and the changes it brought. Still, even without these new stressors, a normal life would include a great many challenges faced over time. We all must deal with accidents and incidents, strains and gains, or wins and losses. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, the brunt of stress is experienced in our bodies. We might be aware of headaches, backaches, or digestive ills. Or perhaps we are more aware of mental strains like nervousness, depression, or irritability. Many people try to manage their stress by seeking ways to take a break from it—and this is certainly helpful in the short term. However, some of the hardest things people deal with are not short-term problems. The toughest stressors are the ones that are long-lasting: health problems, family or relationship problems, and grief or trauma. To learn how to co-exist more peacefully with these enduring stresses, we have to develop a different way of receiving them. One very helpful skill to cultivate along these lines is the quality of mindfulness. You have probably heard that mindfulness is living in the present moment. That’s generally true but, more specifically, mindfulness is being aware of what is contained in our present moment without being overly reactive to it. Developing that mindset is a learnable skill. It involves training your attention, interrupting your typical stress responses with a pause, and evaluating how you will respond. Mindfulness teachers use a blend of meditative techniques, mindful movement, and practices in everyday living to encourage the growth of new connections in the nervous system and brain. This can totally change our capacity to be present with difficulty in our lives. The Gettysburg Hospital Foundation has been funding mindfulness training in our Adams County community for several years now. If you would like to engage in such training, at no cost, a series of mindfulness workshops is planned for the spring. The first is Mindfulness and Stress Reduction: The Foundations on March 13th.  This is followed by Building Skills on April 10th, and Life As Practice on May 15th.  All workshops are on Sunday afternoon from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., online using the Zoom platform. The workshops are designed to build on each other so there is value in taking all three. You can register easily by calling Healthy Adams County at (717) 337-4137, or email jgastley2@wellspan.org. Julie Falk PhD has been teaching mindfulness in Adams County for more than a decade. She teaches yoga and somatic movement at the YWCA and chairs the Healthy Adams County Behavioral Health Task Force.

Wolf Administration Continues COVID-19 Support for Healthcare Workers, Hospitals and Patients

Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter today said two additional state-directed healthcare strike teams and another long-term care regional support team are providing requested assistance for hospitals and skilled nursing facilities caring for patients with COVID-19. “The Wolf Administration continues to follow through on efforts initiated during the most recent surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations,” Klinepeter said. “While we are seeing cases and hospitalizations trending downward, we know that healthcare workers and hospitals are still caring for a high number of patients. We are providing assistance as it is requested, needed and available.”  This week, clinical staff from state-directed healthcare strike teams are supporting staff at Geisinger Wyoming Valley and Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest. The teams are on a two-week deployment and vary in size and scope based on the daily needs of the facilities. They include registered nurses and respiratory therapists provided through General Healthcare Resources (GHR) under a contract with the Department of Health.   “Over the past two years of the pandemic, our dedicated teams have worked tirelessly to provide the care our communities needed,” J. Edward Hartle, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Geisinger said. “As we continue to care for record numbers of patients in Luzerne County, we greatly appreciate the state’s staffing support for our teams at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center.”  “We are thankful for this partnership with the state as we continue to care for COVID-19 and other patients and as hospitals and health networks across the country face staffing challenges,” said Luis Puentes President, LVH–Hecktown Oaks campus and Vice President, Operations and Public Safety at Lehigh Valley Health Network said. “We are also eternally grateful for the dedication and resilience of our staff throughout this pandemic.” Additionally, this week a fifth regional skilled nursing facility support site opened at the Pleasant Valley Manor nursing home in Monroe County.  The facility will receive clinical and non-clinical support staff to allow for more rapid discharge of patients from area hospitals, when clinically safe to do so, freeing additional acute care space to meet COVID demands. GHR will provide clinical staff, including RNs, LPNs and CNAs; Pennsylvania National Guard will provide non-clinical staffing to support the facility’s existing staff; and PEMA will assist in the coordination.  “The Department of Health is continually working with hospitals to evaluate the need and provide resources to help ensure hospitals and healthcare workers are not overwhelmed so that anyone in the community who needs care can get it,” Klinepeter said.  These efforts are part of the Wolf Administration’s multi-layered initiative to support Pennsylvania’s healthcare staffing shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  State-directed staffing assistance is separate from the federal strike teams currently deployed to hospitals in Scranton and York. Both teams are slated to conclude their work in early March.   In addition, last month, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation that appropriates $225 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to support the healthcare workforce in Pennsylvania. Additional COVID-19 response initiatives include:  Overseeing additional free COVID-19 testing sites currently operating in Berks, Blair, Centre, Clinton, McKean, Somerset, Susquehanna, Washington and York counties through a partnership between the department and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare (AMI).  Ensuring in-person learning continues by offering K-12 school districts free weekly COVID-19 services at no cost to participating schools through the departments of Health and Education, in partnership with Concentric by Gingko Bioworks.   Educating counties, municipalities, and health systems about the federal reimbursement available to them for eligible COVID-related expenses including activities such as setting up their own community-based testing sites.    Meeting with manufacturers to offer incentives to increase production of COVID-19 tests to meet the growing demand from the private sector to require the public to produce negative COVID-19 tests for travel, public events, dining, and more. 

Wellspan Health’s innovative nursing program steadies staffing challenges

WellSpan Health has announced the growth of its WellStaffed™ program of floating nurses across its regional health system to address urgent patient care needs at each hospital while also providing professional growth opportunities and expanded skill set for the participating nurses. The program, which operates across WellSpan hospitals, was born out of an approach utilized at WellSpan York Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Based on the success of that effort we have expanded the program to take a system-wide approach that includes nurses from all corners of the counties we serve,” said Bob Batory, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for WellSpan Health. “It’s about finding a better way to attract and retain the most talented nurses amidst a shortage that is impacting all health systems and the labor market in general.”   WellStaffed™ is a growing pool of 52 dedicated team members including registered nurses and certified nursing assistants. Most are internal hires, but 12 are new to the organization, inspired by the opportunity to support various specialties such as behavioral health and emergency medicine, expanding their nursing skill set.   “WellStaffed™ takes my previous experience of a float pool to a whole other level. I love this program because it allows you the opportunity to find out what your passion is,” explained Ruth Brainerd, a registered nurse on the team who also is a nurse instructor. “The flexibility in my schedule allows me to continue as a nurse instructor and also share more ideas from my experiences with my students.”   The program began in September of 2021 and supports hospitals across WellSpan’s South Central Pennsylvania footprint. These WellSpan employees receive full benefits, and the program helps retain the talented nurses within the organization as a growth opportunity.   “I love WellStaffed™ because it allows you to switch environments through different assignments you take on. Each entity brings a fresh start along with its own unique and different patient population,” said Rachel Mylin, a WellStaffed™ registered nurse.   The program does not replace current hospital float pools, which are intended to cover daily staffing needs as the WellStaffed™ team can cover multiweek assignments as part of their duties.   Nurses interested in exploring career opportunities at WellSpan Health can visit www.JoinWellSpan.org.         WellSpan Health is an integrated health system that serves the communities of central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. The organization includes a clinically integrated network of approximately 2,600 physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs), including more than 1,600 employed physicians and APPs; a regional behavioral health organization; a home care organization; eight respected hospitals; approximately 20,000 employees; and more than 200 patient care locations. WellSpan is a charitable, mission-driven organization, committed to exceptional care for all, lifelong wellness and healthy communities. Visit WellSpan.org.

PA reports on state Covid trends

PA Dept of Health Logo

The Pennsylvania Department of Health provided a weekly COVID-19 update as of Monday, Feb. 14.     “The latest post-vaccination, often called breakthrough, data continues to prove the science that getting up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations is effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death,” said Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter. In Pennsylvania, from January 2021 through Feb. 11, 2022:  71 percent of reported COVID-19 cases,   83 percent of reported COVID-19 hospitalizations, and   80 percent of reported COVID-19 deaths were in unvaccinated, or not fully vaccinated, individuals.   “The post-vaccination percentages we are seeing here are on par with those in other states,” she said, noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that national COVID-19 hospitalization data for December show that unvaccinated adults ages 50-64 were 45-times more likely to be hospitalized; people 65 and over were 51-times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19.   “Pennsylvania and national data show that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective for preventing hospitalizations and deaths, even as more post-vaccination cases occur in the context of more transmissible variants and more residents getting vaccinated,” Klinepeter said. “I encourage everyone 12 and older to get a booster dose now.”  Vaccines are free and available across the state through vaccines.gov.  Weekly Update   Pennsylvania continues to make critical strides in getting eligible residents vaccinated by working closely with vaccine providers, grassroots organizations, and relevant stakeholders to ensure all Pennsylvanians have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the CDC, as of Monday, Feb. 14, 76.1% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. This percentage reflects all 67 counties in Pennsylvania.    If you or your loved ones are not yet vaccinated, now is the time to get fully vaccinated, get boosted and get children ages 5–18 vaccinated. Visit vaccines.gov to find a vaccine provider near you to schedule your vaccine appointment.   This week, the Department of Health analyzed the following vaccine data within its 66-county vaccine jurisdiction; Philadelphia is a separate vaccine jurisdiction:   109,327 vaccine doses were administered in the past week, including:    40,041 booster doses administered in the past week.   18,008 pediatric doses administered in the past week.   The total number of vaccines administered dropped by 10.9% compared to the previous week.   Here is a statewide summary of COVID-19 trends over the past 7 days Monday, Feb. 7 –Sunday, Feb. 13:   The daily average number of cases was 3,695.  The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, Feb. 14 was 25.6 percent lower than on Feb. 7. The percent of available adult and pediatric ICU beds in the state rose to 21% and 19%, respectively. Approximately 12.7% of all staffed adult ICU beds are COVID-19 patients.    26.6% of all ventilators statewide are in use.  The Department of Health continues to provide the public with extensive and frequently updated data on both the COVID-19 dashboard and the vaccine dashboard. Both dashboards provide an interactive experience for the user to review statewide and local-level data updated daily.   The department also provides a dashboard showing COVID-19 data for skilled nursing homes including case counts, deaths and vaccination status for residents and staff.    For more information on the Department of Health’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit here.   To stay informed about the Wolf Administration’s vaccination efforts, the latest federal vaccine news, and answers to pressing vaccine questions, visit the Unite Against COVID Weekly Update.    

Gettysburg College will loosen mask requirements and stop testing students

Although 270 students have now tested positive for Covid since the start of the year, Gettysburg College will stop regular testing for students on Monday. Saying that “positivity rates are on a steady decline and that the students who have tested positive this semester were predominately asymptomatic,” Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students Anne Ehrlich said in a campus email on Thursday the college would no longer routinely test students. Since classes began in January, every student has been tested once per week. Image from campus Covid dashboard. Erhlich said tests will still be available for fully vaccinated students who want one and that students who have an approved exemption or are not fully vaccinated will still be required to test once a week.  The campus also loosened restrictions on masking.  “Effective immediately, masking is no longer required in residence halls. Masking is still required in all other indoor locations. We will continue to evaluate our masking policy in the coming weeks,” said Ehrlich. The notice also said that any student who tests positive through an at-home test, local urgent care, or the hospital is required to notify the College of their positive test. Notification of a positive test enables the College to provide resources to ensure the health and safety of students and the community at large.

Covid testing at EMS Center will end on Sunday

Adams County announced that this Sunday, Feb. 13, will be the last day for Covid testing at the Adams County Emergency Services Center site east of Gettysburg. Department of Emergency Services Director Warren Bladen said there was not enough demand to keep the site open but that the materials will be left in place and the site may be reactivated if necessary.   County Commissioner Randy Phiel thanked the county EMS staff for the work they did in providing “effective and convenient vaccination and testing sites. There were a lot of logistics in that. It was a big deal, especially in this climate,” he said. Noting the importance of having accurate records of court proceedings, the Adams County Commissioners have proclaimed Feb. 5-12 as Court Reporting and Captioning Week 2022. “These are extraordinary people doing extraordinary things under extreme pressure,” said President Judge Michael A. George. “Every single word matters when important decisions are being made in courtrooms.” During the discussion of Children and Youth Services policies (see below) Phiel talked about the importance of the county’s impact in facilitating adoption procedures. Phiel also thanked the Courthouse maintenance staff for doing the in-house work on repairing the ceiling in the historical courtroom. “It’s incumbent on us to preserve this beautiful building for future generations,” he said. Other decisions approved by the commissioners at their meeting this morning (taken from the meeting agenda), included the following: Domestic Relations: Recommendation from Kelly Carothers, Director and after review by Solicitor Molly Mudd, that the Board of Commissioners sign the Contract with Contact Wireless, a New Mexico Company, for text messaging services for Adams County Domestic Relations Child Support Services.  It is further recommended that the Commissioners sign the Addendum to the Terms and Conditions, which incorporates the County’s standard terms and conditions into the Agreement. The term of the Agreement is February 1, 2022 through January 31, 2026.  The County will pay a monthly fee of $118.91 over the (48) months of the contract. Controller: Recommendation from Controller John Phillips, and after review by Solicitor Molly R. Mudd, that the Board of Commissioners designate Chairman Randy L. Phiel to sign the Engagement Letter with Municipal Finance Partners, Inc. (“MFP”), a Pennsylvania company. MFP will assist the County in preparing an Other Post-Employment Benefits (“OPEB”) Plan by providing certain actuarial services pursuant to the Governmental Accounting Standards Board guidelines (Statement Nos. 25, 27 and 45). The total cost to the County for fiscal year 2021 valuations will be $5,000.00. Any additional services required will be billed at rates ranging from $100.00-$300.00/hour. This Agreement is effective February 9, 2022. Victim Witness: Recommendation from Cindy Keeney, Director, and after review by Solicitor Molly R. Mudd, that the Board of Commissioners approve and sign a Project Modification Request for PCCD Grant #2020-EA-04-32765 – Enhanced Services-Child Victims of Sexual Abuse to only extend the Project Period from June 30, 2022 to July 30, 2023. The Grant amount is $69,552.00. Children & Youth Services: Recommendation from Sarah Finkey, Administrator and after review by Solicitor Molly R. Mudd, that the Board of Commissioners approve the following: Adoption Assistance Agreements with the following: T. & L. B. on behalf of L.W. in the subsidy amount of $901.85/month T. & L. B. on behalf of K.W. in the subsidy amount of $780.19/month B.K. & T.T. on behalf of L.S. in the subsidy amount of $912.50/monthDrug and Alcohol Testing Agreement with Redwood Toxicology Laboratory, a California company.  The Agreement is made pursuant to COSTARS Contracts # 4400018475 and 4400018477 and provides various drug and alcohol testing services at rates ranging from $1 to $75 per sample, depending on the nature of the test.  The Agreement is effective January 1, 2022 and terminates December 31, 2022.   Letter Agreement between Children & Youth Services and York/Adams Early Intervention Services. This Agreement outlines the protocol for referrals and provision of services for children 6 years old and younger who have been the subject of a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect, accepted GPS assessment, and/or a plan of safe care. This Agreement is effective February 9, 2022 and expires June 30, 2023. Department of Emergency Services: Recommendation from Warren Bladen, Director and after review by Solicitor Molly R. Mudd, that the Board of Commissioners approve the following: First Amendment To Amended And Restated Support and Maintenance Agreement with Intellitech Corporation, an Ohio company.  This Amendment renews the Master Agreement dated January 6, 2021 and modifies the term to be coterminous with the payment period of November 1st through October 31st. The services provided by Intellitech under this agreement include emergency dispatch and mapping services with ongoing maintenance and support. The Amendment is effective November 1, 2021 through October 31, 2022. The total cost to the County is $73,429.97, which expense was fully budgeted and paid in FY 2021. Amendment to 9-1-1 Inter-County Call Handling Agreement with Franklin County, PA. This Agreement amends a prior Cost-Sharing Agreement executed on February 21, 2019, so as to permit the collection of payment by Adams County from Franklin County for 911-related services rendered prior to the date of the original Agreement. The Amendment is effective February 9, 2022. Designate Chairman Randy L. Phiel to sign the Quote from Candoris Technologies, LLC of Annville, for Cisco Catalyst 8200 Series Systems 1 and 2. These systems will be used for router upgrades for the Adams County Department of Emergency Services building.  This Quote is made pursuant to Costars Contract #003-299.  The Quote is effective February 9, 2022.  Total cost to the County is $11,036.63. US Department of Homeland Security Federal Fiscal Year 2021 Emergency Management Performance Grant Agreement C950003026 between the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and Adams County. This Agreement provides for a grant award of $85,163.00, to be used for personnel salary and benefits for an Emergency Management Coordinator and Administrative Assistant 1. The term of the Agreement is October 1, 2020 to December 29, 2023 and the period of performance is October 1, 2020 through March 30, 2022. The total project cost is $170,326.00, with the County contributing $85,163.00 as a non-Federal match. Adams County Emergency Operations Plan (December 2021), as mandated by Section 7503 of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Services Code. This Plan provides guidance for prompt and effective emergency response procedures to be followed in the event of a major emergency or disaster in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of County residents.  It is additionally recommended that the Board pass Resolution No. 1 of 2022, which formally adopts and promulgates the Emergency Operations Plan. Building and Maintenance: Recommendation from Larry Steinour, Director and after review by Solicitor Molly Mudd, that the Board of Commissioners designate Chairman Randy L. Phiel to sign on behalf of the Board the Quote from BrandSafway Services, a Georgia company, for scaffolding installation and deconstruction in the Adams County Historic Courtroom foyer. The scaffolding will be used by Building and Maintenance to repair the damaged ceiling in the foyer of the Historic Courtroom.   It is further recommended that the Commissioners sign the Addendum to the Terms and Conditions, which incorporates the County’s standard terms and conditions into the Agreement, and the Adams County Credit Application Agreement. The quote is effective February 9, 2022 and the term of the rental agreement is 28 days. Total cost to the County is $14,988.40. Adams County Adult Correctional Complex: Recommendation from Warden Katy Hileman, and after review by Solicitor Molly R. Mudd, that the Board of Commissioners approve the Memorandum Of Understanding (“MOU”) with the YWCA Hanover Safe Home (“Safe Home”), a Pennsylvania non-profit organization. This MOU provides services by Safe Home directed towards Adams County Adult Correctional Complex inmates who are identified as potential victims of domestic violence or human trafficking. Safe Home’s services are funded through federal grants, and at no additional cost to the County.  This MOU is effective September 22, 2021 and expires September 21, 2022. Commissioner’s Office: Recommendation by Solicitor Molly R. Mudd that the Board of Commissioners approve the following: Authorize the advertisement of Ordinance No. 1 of 2022 (amending prior Ordinance No. 2 of 2018) concerning the imposition of hotel room rental taxes in accordance with the updates to the Tax Reform Code of 1971 (P.L. 6, No. 2) as outlined in Act 109 of 2018 (P.L. 707, No. 109). This Ordinance will be adopted at the Adams County Commissioners’ public meeting to be held on Wednesday, February 23, 2022. Appoint Chairman Randy L. Phiel to execute on behalf of the Board of Commissioners Change Order #1 relative to the Human Services Re-Roofing Project for Contractor D.A. Nolt, Inc. extending the Contract Time for the work associated with reinforcing the existing roof framing 120 calendar days to June 3, 2022, four (4) months beyond the original substantial completion date. This Change Order acknowledges DA Nolt’s continued efforts to improve quality and production and to work beyond normal business hours so as not to impact the  facility’s operations with no change to the Contract Price. The County and D.A. Nolt agree to continue to work together through completion to achieve Substantial Competition on June 3, 2022 for the reinforcing work. Pandemic-related delays of roofing materials and completion of the re-roofing phase will be evaluated at a later date when material availability and pricing is confirmed. Recommendation from Robin Fitzpatrick, President, Adams Economic Alliance, to approve the appointment of the following:  Justin Hockley to the Adams County Industrial Development Authority Board for a five-year term effective through December 31, 2026 and the re-appointment of Dominic Picarelli to the Adams County General Authority Board for a five-year term effective through December 31, 2026. Personnel Report:              Court: Recommendation from Don Fennimore, Court Administrator to note the following separation of employment: Domestic Relations Section – Crystal Smith, Director, effective February 25, 2022 and Monica Forsyth, Case Management Officer, effective February 17, 2022 Children & Youth Services:           Recommendation from Sarah Finkey, Administrator, to approve employment of the following effective February 7, 2022:  Montana Sigel, Caseworker 1; Aparna Bhanu, Program Specialist 1-QA. Human Resources:           Recommendation from Michele Miller, HR Director, to approve the employment of Jannie Abando, HR Generalist/Payroll Assistant, effective February 22, 2022.              Building & Maintenance:           Recommendation from Larry Steinour, Director, to approve the employment of John Smith, Custodian, 2nd Shift for HSB, effective February 14, 2022.         Adams County Adult Correctional Complex: Recommendation from Warden Katy Hileman, pending successful completion of background screenings, the employment of the following Corrections Officers:  Austin Allen; Connor Wenger; Joel Masterstefone, effective January 31, 2022 Separation of Employment with permission to post: Sandra Pruchnik, Legal Assistant in the District Attorney’s Office, effective February 4, 2022 Rescind the separation of employment for Britney LeCrone, Legal Assistant in the District Attorney’s Office, effective January 14, 2022 Retirement of Jamie Phillips, Office Manager in the Cooperative Extension Office, effective February 4, 2022 Kaitilyn Phillips, Corrections Officer, effective January 30, 2022 Rescind the offer of employment to Austin Allen, Corrections Officer, effective January 31, 2022

February is American Heart Health Month – How to lower your blood pressure

The #1 cause of death in the U.S. is cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and heart attacks. The good news is that heart disease is preventable with medical interventions and behavioral changes. In this article I focus on ways to prevent high blood pressure (hypertension), one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. When it comes to blood pressure, the top number is your systolic blood pressure and tells us how forcefully blood is being pushed out of your heart. The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure and measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart relaxes between beats. Recent studies show risk of death from heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20mm Hg systolic or 10mmHg diastolic increase among people from age 40-89. If you are at risk for developing hypertension or have been diagnosed with it, you may want to invest in a home blood pressure monitor. To find one that has been validated, please check at validatebp.org. Be sure to find a monitor with the right cuff size. Keep logs of your blood pressure readings and take them to your doctor’s appointment along with your monitor to see if you are getting the same results in the office as at home. Your doctor will determine if you have hypertension. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure It is said that “genes load the gun but environment pulls the trigger.” What this means is that even though you may be born with a genetic risk for developing heart disease, you can still change its expression by controlling your environment. Reducing salt intake to less than 2,300mg /day and ideally to 1500mg /day, even for children 4 years and older is recommended to prevent hypertension. Roughly, 1/4 teaspoon salt equals 575 mg of sodium and 1 teaspoon equals 2,300mg of sodium. It is better to avoid processed foods as sodium is used as preservative in most of them. When reading food labels, look for sodium-free products, as these usually contain less than 5mg of sodium per serving. Use salt in its most natural form or substitute with herbs and spices for flavor.  Potassium rich foods also help control blood pressure. Potassium plays a key role in nerve and muscle function. Bananas, beets, spinach, melons, avocados, poultry, and fish are some potassium-rich foods. Other minerals important for reducing blood pressure are magnesium and calcium. Eating too many carbohydrates and sugar can increase blood pressure. Elevated blood sugar may cause insulin resistance which can contribute to inflammation and hypertension. Exercise can reduce blood pressure. Aim for standing, rather than sitting, as much as you can during your day. Walking 10,000 steps a day is a good goal. Other endurance exercises like cycling and strength training may be beneficial.  Meditation and deep breathing are strategies that may be helpful in lowering blood pressure.  Poor quality sleep and short sleep duration increase the risk of high blood pressure, and we should all try to get at least 7 hours of high quality sleep. Some strategies for better sleep are to set a time for going to bed, dimming house lights in the evening, unplugging from electronics 30-60 minutes before bedtime, setting room temperature to around 68F, and blocking noise and lights in the bedroom. Heavy drinking may also cause hypertension. It is recommended that men limit themselves to 2 drinks per day and women to 1 drink per day. A drink is either a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor. Avoiding alcohol completely maybe the best option if you have a diagnosis of hypertension or are at high risk for developing it.  Tobacco use increases risk of hypertension, so it is highly recommended to quit using it. While heart disease is still the No. 1 killer in the United States and around the world, death rates have decreased significantly. Earlier and better treatment of high blood pressure has played a key role in that decrease. Visit your family doctor on a regular basis and follow his or her recommendations. I hope the recommendations in this article have empowered you to take charge of your health and to implement them in your life so you may reduce your risk of developing hypertension and heart disease.  References- CDC.gov, AHA.org, ACC.org, Rakel’s Integrative Medicine

Wolf Administration Announces Long-Term Care Regional Support Sites to Help Relieve Strain on Healthcare Workers, Hospitals

Leaders of the Pennsylvania departments of Health and Military and Veterans Affairs along with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency today announced four long-term care regional support sites to relieve pressure on hospitals and skilled nursing facilities due to a high number of patients with COVID-19. “Establishing these long-term care support sites will benefit hospitals and nursing homes caring for high numbers of patients with COVID-19,” Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter said. “This collaborative effort between state agencies and the healthcare community is the next step in the Wolf Administration’s multi-layered approach to relieve the strain on healthcare workers and facilities. “COVID-19 hospitalizations remain at historically high levels and healthcare workers need some support to get through this current surge,” Klinepeter said. Within the next seven to 10 days, regional support sites will open at the following skilled nursing facilities (SNF):    Vincentian Home in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Lutheran Home in Hollidaysburg, Blair County, Springs at the Watermark in Philadelphia, and Clarview Nursing Home and Rehabilitation in Sligo, Clarion County. DOH is continually working with hospitals to evaluate the need and stand up resources to meet the need for regional support. Staffing resources are anticipated to be deployed for approximately 90 days based on demand. Each facility will receive clinical and non-clinical support staff to open up to 30 beds to allow for more rapid discharge of patients from hospitals, when clinically safe to do so, freeing additional acute care space to meet COVID demands. General Healthcare Resources (GHR) will provide clinical staff, including RNs, LPNs and CNAs; Pennsylvania National Guard will provide non-clinical staffing to support the facility’s existing staff; and PEMA will assist in the coordination. “I am truly grateful for the continued service and sacrifice of all our soldiers and airmen,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “I am equally thankful to their families and employers who support them when they are called to serve. These missions are successful because of our partnership with the Department of Health and PEMA and our collaborative efforts demonstrate how government works together, in serving and supporting our communities, especially residents and the staff in long-term care facilities.” “Our agency regularly works across all levels of government, and the public and private sector to lead collaborative planning efforts to respond to complex situations that present unique challenges such as the ongoing pandemic,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “We’re pleased to continue to be involved in the planning and execution of this new initiative.” DOH is contracting for clinical staff through GHR, which is focusing its staff engagement and recruitment on healthcare professionals from outside of Pennsylvania to avoid heightening current staffing limitations within the state. This staffing assistance is separate from the state-directed strike teams currently deployed at Grand View Health in Bucks County and Crozer Health in the southeast, as well as federal strike teams deployed to hospitals in Scranton and York and extended into March. Last week, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation that appropriates $225 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to support the healthcare workforce in Pennsylvania. The bill and state-directed strike teams for hospitals are part of the multi-layered approach the Wolf Administration is taking to address and mitigate the current crisis in Pennsylvania. Additional initiatives include: Overseeing additional free COVID-19 testing sites currently operating in Berks, Blair, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Fayette, Monroe, Somerset and Venango counties through a partnership between the department and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare (AMI). Ensuring in-person learning continues by offering K-12 school districts free weekly COVID-19 services at no cost to participating schools through the departments of Health and Education, in partnership with Concentric by Gingko Bioworks. Educating counties, municipalities, and health systems about the federal reimbursement available to them for eligible COVID-related expenses including activities such as setting up their own community-based testing sites.  Meeting with manufacturers to offer incentives to increase production of COVID-19 tests to meet the growing demand from the private sector to require the public to produce negative COVID-19 tests for travel, public events, dining, and more

Rec park improvements continue

A new year brings new goals and Gettysburg Area Recreation Authority has several plans this year to improve and update several areas around the rec park. One of these goals has already been completed this year thanks to Cumberland Township. There were multiple trees around the dog park and path surrounding the dog park that had died over the past years. As 2021 brought several severe storms, there were concerns that some of those dead trees would fall into the dog park. Cumberland Township staff came out in early January and removed w14 dead trees. Gettysburg Rec Park has lost many trees over the years to disease and age. Gettysburg Green Gathering has been planting donated trees in the park the past several years. They will again be planting trees this year so that for every tree lost, they will be replaced. The rec park will also be giving facelifts to several buildings in the park. The rec park has two sets of restrooms in the park. The south end restrooms, located near the dog park, have been open for roughly 40 years. The restrooms located outside the Sterner Building have been in the park for 20 years. This year, the park plans to update the restrooms with a fresh coat of paint and eventually updated fixtures. The south end restrooms will open for the year towards the end of March and the Sterner Building outside restrooms are open all year round. The rec park continues to paint the baseball field dugouts. Over the past two years, the dugouts at Coldsmith White and Thompson Field have been painted. This year, the staff will be painting Weikert Field dugouts and press box. The staff are currently painting the updated backstop to be replaced in the next few weeks. Gettysburg Area Recreation Authority wants to thank everyone who continues to support and donate to the park. Thank you to Len Dick Signs for the new welcome sign [pictured above] at the Long Lane and Breckinridge Street entrance of the park and thank you to everyone who donated during the 2021 Giving Spree. The support and donations continue to help us to complete our improvement projects and keep the park beautiful for the community.

Dementia information sessions to be offered in the spring at ACOFA

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million people are living with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia. What should an individual and their caregiver expect after receiving the diagnosis and as the disease progresses? How can one be prepared? The Adams County Office for Aging, Inc. (ACOFA) is offering a cost-free 4-week program for the individual living with the disease and their care partner. The information sessions are designed to aid families for the road ahead, to learn about different supports in the community, and to help the individual and their family understand that they can have Dementia and still have a good quality of life. The program will take place on Thursday evenings from 6:00-7:30 p.m. It is scheduled to start on Thursday, April 21, 2022 at the Adams County Office for Aging, Inc., located at 318 W Middle Street in Gettysburg. Participants are asked to commit to attending all four weeks of the program. Registration is required. There will be limited seating and this cost-free program is expected to “sell out.” At the time of registration, there will be a pre-screening process for those living with the disease to determine if the program would be beneficial for them. Caregivers are also welcome to attend alone if they feel the program would not be suitable for their loved one. To register or for more information, please contact Lynn Deardorff at 717-334-9296 or you may email her at ldeardof@acofa.org. Lynn is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, Dementia Friends Champion, & caregiver support group facilitator. She brings to the table years of experience of working with families whose lives have been touched by Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Sunday showtimes will be vaccine-only at Gettysburg Majestic Theatre

Gettysburg College’s Majestic Theater will offer vaccination-required movie showings every Sunday beginning February 6. All movie showings every Sunday will require full COVID-19 vaccination to attend. Vaccination will not be required to attend movies on Mondays through Saturdays. “Many of our most faithful movie goers are over the age of 60, and have told me they would feel safer if everyone in the audience was fully vaccinated as well as masked,” explained Majestic Theater Founding Executive Director Jeffrey Gabel. “We decided to test the market with Sunday movie matinees, which are particularly popular with this audience.” Patrons attending movie showings on Sundays will be required to present a COVID-19 vaccination card or photo of the card, as well as a photo ID. Patrons must be fully vaccinated, including booster doses if eligible. Patrons will also be required to wear a mask at all times unless eating or drinking. A negative COVID-19 test will not be accepted in absence of a vaccination card. This policy applies to all patrons, including children; children ages 4 and under will not be admitted. The Majestic Theater at the Jennifer and David LeVan Performing Arts Center is owned and operated by Gettysburg College as a gathering place for its campus and community to celebrate the arts together.

Covid cases and hospitalizations moderate in Adams

It’s been said that “if you’ve seen one pandemic you’ve seen… one pandemic” and this one continues to fit that pattern.  Virologists and epidemiologists are doing their best to make predictions, while doctors, nurses, and politicians are doing their best to keep people safe, but it’s pretty hard, especially when their advice is frequently ignored. It’s been a long road – almost two years and counting – and there is absolutely no way to know what’s coming. There will be new variants (I read about one just today) and we don’t know what they are going to bring. For the moment, the news is at least momentarily better — the Omicron variant, which created a lot of cases, fast, since Thanksgiving, seems to be waning. Cases are down from their peaks a couple of weeks ago. Source: https://data.pa.gov/Covid-19/COVID-19-Aggregate-Cases-Current-Daily-County-Heal/j72v-r42c/data Wellspan Gettysburg Hospital which peaked on Jan. 16 with 56 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the highest of the pandemic by far (last year’s winter surge had as many as 42 patients), is now down to only 28.  That’s still a lot, and the hospital is still full, but it is better. Source: https://data.pa.gov/Covid-19/COVID-19-Aggregate-Hospitalizations-Current-Daily-/kayn-sjhx/data Hospital administrators say they are hopeful these trends will continue to reduce stresses on the healthcare system and allow the hospitals to reschedule deferred surgeries and procedures for patients seeking care unrelated to COVID-19. This dip, which was predicted by scientists, is probably in part because the virus has already infected so many people and also because people are being more careful. I noticed the employees at Kennies Market in Gettysburg, after taking off their masks for a while, have them on again. The cost to the county is impossible to measure, but it’s substantial. In addition to the hospitalizations and the 314 deaths, about 1 out of every 5 people (over 22,000 total) has tested positive for Covid since the pandemic began, and that has caused major disruptions, not only to medical care, but also to businesses and schools.

County expects to receive $3 million from state opioid settlement

Adams County expects to receive about $3 million in settlement money from claims against manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids as the result of a statewide settlement. The money includes about $695,000 the county will receive for dropping its claim and joining the consolidated state suit. County Solicitor Molly Mudd said the funds were expected as soon as August and would be used for a variety of projects to help people with opioid addiction.  “The board is considering a wide range of options. We’re exploring useful, supportive services for families and individuals in need that we can deliver quickly,” said County Commissioner Marty Qually. “Families with addicts need all kinds of support, and particularly single parents. The Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is spearheading the settlement with 3 major distributors and one manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson Janssen. The expected settlement is based on the expectation that each county with an existing suit will also join in the consolidated suit. Mudd said the class action suit was similar to one brought by states against tobacco companies in the 1970s, but that the funds were guaranteed to be used for remediation. “The states realized there were issues, said Qually. “It’s not just the companies manufacturing but also distributors. The impact was felt in the counties; their police departments and EMS systems. We can deal with real expenses and use the money to strengthen programs.” The amount received is based on an accounting from the county on four factors: Overdose deaths in 2015-2019 Hospitalizations related to opioid overdoses EMS Naproxone administrations. Adjusted total morphine milligram equivalent (MMEs) dispensed by physicians in the county. 

WellSpan offers beginning yoga sessions during American Heart Month

These virtual sessions are designed for those who have never tried yoga before and are looking to explore new ways to increase physical activity and reduce stress for a healthier heart.  Register in the links below: Feb 17th at noon: https://www.wellspan.org/events/details/Yoga-for-a-Healthy-Heart—VIRTUAL/3808 Feb. 22nd at 6pm: https://www.wellspan.org/events/details/Yoga-for-a-Healthy-Heart—VIRTUAL/3809

Gagliardi to present in Kiwanis speaker series

The Gettysburg Adams Kiwanis Club has announced a new monthly speakers series beginning on Monday, January 24 at its 7:00 p.m. meeting. The first speaker in the series will be Yeimi {Jaime) K. Gagliardi, a Latino health educator in Adams County for WellSpan Health and chairperson for the Latino Services Task Force and the Tobacco Prevention Task Force of Healthy Adams County where she leads and collaborates, with other community-based organizations, in the development, implementation and evaluation of initiatives to reach underserved communities in Adams County. In Adams County, she has overseen several initiatives including early childhood education, health literacy, family planning and reproductive health, addiction and recovery and access to healthcare. Gagliardi will be speaking about Manos Unidas and its contributions to Adams County. Immigrants have been part of Adams County for generations and have contributed to the community’s social and economic fabric and prosperity. Currently, close to 6% of the population in Adams County is of Hispanic descent. The majority work in our agricultural, food processing, and tourism industry. In 2007, group leaders from WellSpan Health, Healthy Adams County, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, and others collaborated in founding Manos Unidas, the Hispanic American Center to provide a more inclusive and welcoming community for immigrant families. Since then, Manos Unidas has provided programs including educational sessions about how to become U.S. Citizens, after-school programs for children K-12, youth empowering programs, English as a Second Language Classes, GED preparation classes, Tax Preparation Services, Immigration navigation services, and social service programs including a local food pantry to serve Spanish speaking families. Manos Unidas partners with many community-based organizations, including SCCAP, Gettysburg College Center for Public Services, Family First Health, Head Start, Migrant Education, Vida Charter School, to make sure families in Adams County are safe and thriving. Their goal is to join diverse cultures and open our doors to all regardless of where they come from.  Gagliardi graduated from Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Bogotá, Colombia with a Bachelor of Sciences Degree in Finance and Foreign Trade and holds a master’s degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from American University in Washington D.C. She is a certified English to Spanish translator, certified personal trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine and Car Safety Technician from Safe Kids Worldwide and has 20 years of experience working with Latino communities in the United States. Gagliardi is currently a board member at the Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania, the YWCA of Adams County, Hispanic American Center-Manos Unidas and the bilingual Vida Charter School in Adams County. She collaborates with Penn State Extension as a member of the Adams County Council. The meeting will take place at Destination Gettysburg (1560 Fairfield Road) at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 24 and is open to members of the public interested in finding out more about Kiwanis and service to our community. Kiwanis requests that all unvaccinated attendees wear a mask. For further information, contact Myra Reichart at mrreuichart@comcast.met or 717-398-2684.

Covid cases rise at FASD, creating serious illnesses and hindering class coverage and health screenings

During its meeting Monday evening, the Fairfield Area school board discussed revisiting its health and safety plan as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise in Adams County. No changes to the plan were made during the meeting. Kristi Ebaugh, the district school nurse, said cases have risen in the district. Since November, three students have suffered serious effects, including one with Covid-induced epilepsy and seizures, one with an enlarged heart, and one requiring oxygen for a week after being released from the hospital, according to Ebaugh. “It’s not that our students aren’t getting sick, because they are,” Ebaugh said. “And this is what we have now.” Board Vice President Jack Liller expressed alarm. “We’re all just acting like it’s sniffles and they’re right back to school,” Liller said. “It’s not that. While three is a small percentage, one is too many.” Ebaugh passed out copies of three emails she’d received from concerned parents or guardians, honoring their wishes to remain anonymous. She said she receives multiple emails each week from parents uncomfortable with the situation. “We are not socially distancing,” Ebaugh said. “We’re now allowing people to be without masks. And we have a lot of people uncomfortable and afraid to speak up, and I think that’s a really sad position that we put our community in, that we have some people who are very loud about how they feel but they are making people who are uncomfortable in this situation feel like they can’t speak.” On Monday, 85 students and staff members at the elementary school were absent, above the five-day average of 65 absences per day. Of the 85, 35 had tested positive or had been exposed to Covid outside of school. In one class, 17 students had to quarantine after several students in the class became ill, and six had tested positive or were experiencing symptoms as of Monday. The last nine students had opted to stay home following an exposure to someone with Covid, according to Ebaugh. At the middle school, 27 students and staff members were out on Monday, with 25 either due to positive tests or exposure to someone with Covid and the other two because of experiencing symptoms after being around someone with Covid at school. The high school had 29 students out, with 21 confirmed ill or around someone with Covid outside of school and the other eight showing symptoms after being exposed at school. Illnesses aren’t just affecting the children. Covid has caused staffing challenges as well. Principals reported that covering classes has become more difficult. Justin Hoffacker, principal of Fairfield Area Middle School, said four – or 20% – of his teachers were out on Monday. The board initially reviewed its health and safety plan to discuss whether to shorten its isolation and quarantine period requirements in light of the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ebaugh said that when a child is exposed to Covid at home, she sends an email to parents with the Pennsylvania Department of Health blind-copied on the same email. The parent’s options are included but Fairfield’s options are different than what the Department of Health requires. “The Department of Health at any time could see these two attachments and reprimand us for our decisions,” Ebaugh said. The emails alone consume much of her time, she said. Liller said he’d heard other districts’ nurses were not performing contact tracing. Ebaugh said it was a rumor, adding that she had heard the same thing and contacted other districts and confirmed they were doing it. Liller addressed Ebaugh and the principals. “What is your thoughts– all of you– how close are we to this thing falling apart with teachers, kids per classroom?” Liller asked. “Honest opinions on what is going on.” Ebaugh told him “it’s already falling apart,” especially as the district only has two nurses. “By this point in the school year, I usually have screenings in the elementary K-4 completed,” she said. “I’ve not even started planning those. That’s required by the state and we don’t have any Covid exceptions for that this year. So we will lose funding for not completing screenings if it doesn’t get done.” At the high school, most screenings have not begun, she said. “We’re averaging anywhere between 25-65 health room visits, then 22 medication passes, on top of Covid calls,” Ebaugh said. “And today, I just looked back and had almost 250 emails today related to Covid.” There was some debate about whether masks make a significant difference in whether people are infected. Ebaugh said 11 students out of 93 unmasked children tested positive for Covid while only seven students out of 1,000 masked children tested positive, making a “big difference.” Some board members asked what else the district could do to help. The board directed the administration to remind parents not to send their child to school if anyone in the household tests positive for Covid or if the child exhibits even minor symptoms. Parents will also receive a reminder about how to check their children for symptoms. In the previous week, there had been multiple cases of students attending school even though they had family members sick with Covid, and only two of those children were wearing masks when they went to school, Ebaugh said. Ebaugh also requested the board provide more information about mask requirements to parents. Those who choose not to mask their children should communicate the exception in the case of exposure, Ebaugh said, adding that it is “confusing” for children who go from wearing no mask to suddenly needing to mask following an exposure. Young children may not understand what an exposure is and some cry when told they have to wear a mask, Ebaugh said. Board President Jennifer Holz encouraged the board to discuss the health and safety plan. “We can agree to not make any changes to our plan, but the truth of the matter is that, in our attempt to come to a compromise with members of the community and their feelings about the health and safety plan and masking, and also respect the feelings of those who wish to keep children as safe as possible under any circumstances, whether it’s masking (or) distancing, we have created this plan that now has us in crisis mode,” Holz said. “So let’s keep that in mind. This isn’t good enough right now. The entire community, including our school district, is in really bad shape, guys.” The board decided to wait until it received more information about Covid in the area and physicians’ recommendations before potentially taking action. The board could call an emergency meeting before its next regularly scheduled meeting. One individual spoke during the time for public comment to state he was against a mask mandate. The board was apprised of a $1,000 donation received from AmVets Post 72 for use by the Fairfield Chamber Choir.

What’s the difference between sugar, other natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners? A food chemist explains sweet science

Kristine Nolin, University of Richmond A quick walk down the drink aisle of any corner store reveals the incredible ingenuity of food scientists in search of sweet flavors. In some drinks you’ll find sugar. A diet soda might have an artificial or natural low-calorie sweetener. And found in nearly everything else is high fructose corn syrup, the king of U.S. sweetness. I am a chemist who studies compounds found in nature, and I am also a lover of food. With confusing food labels claiming foods and beverages to be diet, zero-sugar or with “no artificial sweeteners,” it can be confusing to know exactly what you are consuming. So what are these sweet molecules? How can cane sugar and artificial sweeteners produce such similar flavors? First, it is helpful to understand how taste buds work. Taste buds and chemistry The “taste map” – the idea that you taste different flavors on different parts of your tongue – is far from the truth. People are able to taste all flavors anywhere there are taste buds. So what’s a taste bud? Taste buds are areas on your tongue that contain dozens of taste receptor cells. These cells can detect the five flavors – sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. When you eat, food molecules are dissolved in saliva and then washed across the taste buds, where they bind to the different taste receptor cells. Only molecules with certain shapes can bind to certain receptors, and this produces the perception of different flavors. Molecules that taste sweet bind to specific proteins on the taste receptor cells called G-proteins. When a molecule binds these G-proteins, it triggers a series of signals that are sent to the brain where it is interpreted as sweet. Natural sugars Natural sugars are types of carbohydrates known as saccharides that are made of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. You can imagine sugars as rings of carbon atoms with pairs of oxygen and hydrogen attached to the outside of the rings. The oxygen and hydrogen groups are what make sugar sticky to the touch. They behave like Velcro, sticking to the oxygen and hydrogen pairs on other sugar molecules. The simplest sugars are single-molecule sugars called monosaccharides. You’ve probably heard of some of these. Glucose is the most basic sugar and is mostly made by plants. Fructose is a sugar from fruit. Galactose is a sugar in milk. Table sugar – or sucrose, which comes from sugar cane – is an example of a dissacharide, a compound made of two monosaccharides. Sucrose is formed when a glucose molecule and a fructose molecule join together. Other common dissacharides are lactose from milk and maltose, which comes grains. When these sugars are eaten, the body processes each of them slightly differently. But eventually they are broken down into molecules that your body converts into energy. The amount of energy from sugar – and all food – is measured in calories. High fructose corn syrup High fructose corn syrup is a staple of U.S. foods, and this hybrid sugar sweetener needs a category all on its own. High fructose corn syrup is made from corn starch – the main carbohydrate found in corn. Corn starch is made of thousands of glucose molecules bonded together. At an industrial scale, the starch is broken into individual glucose molecules using enzymes. This glucose is then treated with a second enzyme to convert some of it into fructose. Generally, high fructose corn syrup is roughly 42%-55% fructose. This blend is sweet and cheap to produce but has a high calorie content. As with other natural sugars, too much high fructose corn syrup is bad for your health. And since most processed foods and drinks are packed full of the stuff, it is easy to consume too much. Natural nonsugar sweeteners The second category of sweeteners could be defined as natural nonsugar sweeteners. These are food additives such as stevia and monk fruit, as well as natural sugar alcohols. These molecules aren’t sugars, but they can still bind to the sweet receptors and therefore taste sweet. Stevia is a molecule that comes from the leaves of the Stevia redaudiana plant. It contains “sweet” molecules that are much larger than most sugars and have three glucose molecules attached to them. These molecules are 30 to 150 times sweeter than glucose itself. The sweet molecules from monk fruit are similar to stevia and 250 times sweeter than glucose. The human body has a really hard time breaking down both stevia and monk fruit. So even though they’re both really sweet, you don’t get any calories from eating them. Sugar alcohols, like sorbital, for example, are not as sweet as sucrose. They can be found in a variety of foods, including pineapples, mushrooms, carrots and seaweed, and are often added to diet drinks, sugar-free chewing gum and many other foods and drinks. Sugar alcohols are made of chains of carbon atoms instead of circles like normal sugars. While they are composed of the same atoms as the sugars, sugar alcohols are not absorbed well by the body so they are considered low-calorie sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners The third way to make something sweet is to add artificial sweeteners. These chemicals are produced in labs and factories and are not found in nature. Like all things that taste sweet, they do so because they can bind to certain receptors in taste buds. [Over 140,000 readers rely on The Conversation’s newsletters to understand the world. Sign up today.] So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved six artificial sweeteners. The most well known are probably saccharin, aspartame and sucralose – better known as Splenda. Artificial sweeteners all have different chemical formulas. Some resemble natural sugars while others are radically different. They are usually many times sweeter than sugar – saccharin is an incredible 200 to 700 times sweeter than table sugar – and some of them are hard for the body to break down. While a sweet dessert may be a simple pleasure for many, the chemistry of how your taste buds perceive sweetness is not so simple. Only molecules with the perfect combination of atoms taste sweet, but bodies deal with each of these molecules differently when it comes to calories. Kristine Nolin, Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Richmond This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Gettysburg Hospital, often operating on “Divert Status,” sends patients to neighboring hospitals

With the Gettysburg Hospital remaining at over 100 percent capacity due to an influx of primarily unvaccinated COVID patients, many emergency room patients are being diverted to other regional hospitals. “It is likely patients transported via EMS are redirected to other facilities that may have some capacity,” said Wellspan spokesperson Ryan Coyle. “We ask our communities to remain vigilant in safety measures related to the pandemic. Most of all, we ask those eligible in our communities to get vaccinated. It is the most effective way to reduce hospitalizations resulting from COVID-19,” said Wellspan. Coyle said patients might be sent to Wellspan York Hospital where a 23-person Department of Defense emergency team consisting of Air Force physicians, nurses, respiratory technicians, and team leaders are working alongside the regular hospital staff. Coyle said staff from general physician offices have also been called up to take additional shifts in hospitals to increase staffing needs for the surge of COVID-19 patients. Coyle said the divert status meant it was recommended that EMS transport take patients to a different hospital, but that walk-ins to the emergency room would always be treated. Patients have the right to override a proposed diversion and ask to be taken to the hospital of their choice. Featured image shows a U.S. Air Force medical response team attending training on how to check a patient’s blood sugar at Wellspan Education Center in York, Pennsylvania, Jan. 1, 2022. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible Department of Defense support to the whole-of-government COVID response. [U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashleigh Maxwell]

Federal medical personnel headed to York, Scranton to fight COVID-19

By Victor Skinner (The Center Square) The Federal Emergency Management Agency is deploying dozens of military medical personnel to two Pennsylvania hospitals next week after a request for help to fight the current COVID-19 surge. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration requested assistance from FEMA on Dec. 15 to support hospital staff and alleviate pressure from a surge in COVID-19 cases over the past month. U.S. Army North announced Thursday it will send two teams to Pennsylvania: a 20-person team from the U.S. Air Force to support WellSpan Surgery & Rehabilitation Hospital in York and a 15-person team from the U.S. Air Force to support the Regional Hospital of Scranton. “As U.S. Northern Command’s joint force land component command, our assigned joint forces – from the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force – are prepared and focused on this mission to know what it takes to save lives, alleviate suffering, and defeat this pandemic alongside our federal and community partners,” Lt. Gen. John Evans, U.S. Army North commander, said in a prepared statement. U.S. Army North also will send troops to Arizona and Michigan and already has teams in Michigan, Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico and Wisconsin. The military medical personnel dispatched include nurses, respiratory therapists, and medical doctors. Pennsylvania Department of Health acting Secretary Keara Klinepeter said the focus in Scranton and York will be to increase acute care capacity by opening about 30 additional acute care beds between the two hospitals. The military “Strike Teams” are expected to arrive “on or around January 3” and stay for 30 days, Klinepeter said. “We commend the Biden Administration for taking our requests for support seriously and acting quickly to address health system capacity in Pennsylvania,” Klinepeter said. “The Wolf Administration has worked closely with the federal government and health systems to provide necessary information for the feds to make their determination of how to best support the commonwealth. However, we know there is still work to be done to support this industry and we will continue to address the needs of hospitals and health care systems to provide the best care to our fellow Pennsylvanians.” The help comes amid capacity concerns from hospitals and nursing homes across the state that are struggling with a surge of COVID-19 patients. The situation is resulting in long emergency room waits at some hospitals and staffing shortages at nursing homes, according to The Associated Press. Pennsylvania’s nearly 9,000 new confirmed infections per day on average over the past two weeks is double the rate from late November, while the number of patients requiring hospital care – about 4,500 a day – is up 80% since last month, the news wire reported. “This federal support will help alleviate pressure felt throughout the health system so there is more capacity to treat people who need hospital care,” said Randy Padfield, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. “We will continue to work with our county emergency managers to ensure needed resources are met on a local level throughout the commonwealth.” Klinepeter said the targeted federal help is in addition to broader measures the health department is focused on to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the flood of folks coming in to the state’s hospitals. “We continue to work closely across Pennsylvania’s health care community to ensure these federal resources are felt not only in the communities receiving the deployment, but commonwealth-wide,” she said. “We must continue to support the health care community holistically, which means decreasing the number of people presenting at their local emergency departments while providing capacity to increase the number of patients discharged to other facilities when clinically appropriate. The federal support announced today is aligned with these goals, however, we know that this alone will not solve our capacity issues. “The data is clear, by getting vaccinated against COVID-19, individuals are far less likely to be hospitalized after testing positive. We need all Pennsylvanians to do their part to support their local hospital and get through these winter months. This includes getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, testing when necessary, and staying home if you’re sick.”

Covid tears through Adams as hospital remains taxed

Statistics from the PA Department of Health show dramatic increases in the prevalence of COVID-19 across the state. The number of reported cases was higher on Wednesday than it has been on any day since the start of the pandemic. Data from Adams County show a similar progression, but with an even steeper increase. According to the Center for Disease Control, Adams showed the greatest weekly increase in cases across all counties over the past week, with over 1,400 more positive COVID tests reported in the last 7 days than in the 7 days prior. Although Adams has less than one percent of the population of Pennsylvania, it accounted for almost 5 percent of the increase in the state cases over the past week. The Gettysburg Hospital remains at over 100 percent capacity, although the number of patients has decreased somewhat from its high of 58 two weeks ago to 45 on Wednesday. 120 people have died of COVID in the hospital since the pandemic began. Officials continue to say that face masks, social distancing, and vaccinations remain the best defenses against catching Covid. 

County residents can now text to 911 when necessary

County Commissioner Randy Phiel announced on Friday that citizens in Adams County can now send a text message to the phone number 911 for emergency help when making a 911 voice call is not possible or does not seem appropriate.  According to Adams County Department of Emergency Services Director Warren Bladen, the “Text-to-911” service was not developed as a replacement to a voice call to 911 in an emergency situation, but rather as an enhancement to reach 911 services in three specific situations: The caller is hearing/voice impaired a medical emergency renders the person incapable of speech when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger, such as a home invasion, a domestic violence incident, or an active shooter scenario. Bladen said when in an emergency, all wireless callers should remember to “call if you can; text if you can’t”. Using a phone to call 911 is still the most efficient way to reach emergency help. Texting is not always instantaneous, which is critical during a life-threatening emergency. It may take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services in a text-to-911 situation because of the time involved:  Someone must enter the text, the message must go over the network, and the 911 telecommunicator must read the text and then text back. Many carriers have a limit on the number of characters that can be texted so give the most important information first. Providing location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since the 911 center will initially only receive a coarse location. Text abbreviations, emoticons or slang should never be used so that the intent of the dialogue can be as clear as possible. As with any 911 call, the texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire, or emergency medical services. For non-emergency situations, customers should contact their local public safety agency via the non-emergency number: 717-334-8101.

Family First Health offers health discussion

Family First Health will host its final Let’s Talk Health forum of 2021 on this coming Monday, December 20 at 6:30 p.m. With recent developments related to COVID-19, there is much to discuss – from boosters to pediatric vaccination to variants. Join us as we learn from Dr. Hetal Patel, a Family Practice Physician at Family First Health. After a brief presentation, Dr. Patel will spend the majority of the session answering questions from the community, in real-time – LIVE on Facebook and YouTube. Here is a link to join the session: https://fb.me/e/15Tb4sMvg (or you can join via YouTube). Family First encourages active participation from the community. The session will be in English; however, after the conclusion of the session, it can be viewed on YouTube and subtitles can be added in multiple languages.

Gettysburg Hospital starts triage as it is crushed by unvaccinated Covid patients

The WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital is currently caring for 52 Covid patients, which is the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The hospital is already at over 100 percent capacity and the situation is likely to get worse over the next weeks.  Across the Wellspan system over 90 percent of these hospitalized Covid patients are unvaccinated, meaning about 47 of the 52 patients in Gettysburg do not have vaccines. “Due to overcrowding, some patients are being triaged in waiting areas as they await hospital beds. We are greatly concerned with the influx of more patients in the coming days and weeks,” said Wellspan Media Relations Manager Ryan Coyle. “These capacity constraints don’t just impact COVID-19 patients, but also anyone else seeking care for urgent issues such as heart attacks or strokes.” “Patients are being treated in non-traditional areas of the hospital such as pre-operative or post-operative bays, emergency room bays, etc.”, he said. “We have implemented several protocols to manage the volume and severity of this situation and are currently redeploying resources and delaying non-emergent care across our system of 200+ care locations. We are also postponing certain procedures at many of our facilities to ensure enough space for those seeking emergency care,” said Coyle. “Our care teams are tired. They are doing all that they can, but they need everyone to take this seriously so that our hospitals are not overwhelmed more than they already are,” said Coyle. “What is most concerning is that this extreme surge in hospitalizations is preventable if individuals were to get vaccinated, which greatly reduces severe illness that could require hospitalization,” said Coyle. We urge community members to stay vigilant with safety measures like hand washing, masking and social distancing and to get the COVID-19 vaccine so WellSpan and other healthcare systems can continue to provide care for all patients who need support at this time. WellSpan Health strongly encourages that everyone who is eligible get vaccinated with one of the three currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines. WellSpan is administering all three vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Lack of telehealth law in Pennsylvania a major headache for patients who need it most

Danielle Ohl of Spotlight PA Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters. HARRISBURG — Cheryl Gibson was in pain as she drove. Eight months earlier, Gibson had begun an at-home breathing treatment for her emphysema when the mild headache she’d felt at the base of her skull exploded into debilitating pain. Her arm went numb, causing her to drop the nebulizer tube she’d been holding. Gibson was sure she had suffered a stroke, but months of subsequent tests and scans have failed to identify the cause of the unpredictable pain she now experiences multiple times a week. Without a way to know when an attack is coming, and with preexisting conditions that limit her mobility and increase her risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19, Gibson relies on telehealth appointments to see her neurologist and other doctors. But when she was referred to a pain management specialist, the office told her she’d have to come in person. Gibson drove 45 minutes one way from her home in Schuylkill Haven to the office in Tamaqua while monitoring a dull headache she hoped wouldn’t grow worse. Her appointment that day lasted five minutes and did not include a physical evaluation. “I’m not a big baby about stuff,” Gibson said. “But this is debilitating. I can’t function, I can’t do anything, and I can’t get behind the wheel of a car and drive because I don’t feel safe.” The number of Pennsylvanians who have come to rely on phone and video appointments surged after the pandemic made in-person visits potentially dangerous. And many health-care providers and insurance companies quickly embraced telehealth as a necessary way of getting patients needed care. But the state is one of only seven that does not have any law requiring private insurers to reimburse for telehealth, resulting in a patchwork system of care. Access to telehealth depends on someone’s insurance company or their specific insurance plan. Even if a patient has coverage, in some cases medical providers don’t provide telehealth because they have to determine eligibility for each of their patients, an onerous process resulting in uneven care. All of that leaves Pennsylvania patients — especially those who need remote care the most, such as people in rural areas — confused, frustrated, and, at times, without services they need. “Pennsylvania is definitely a little bit of an anomaly in that,” said Kathy Hsu Wibberly, director of the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center. “And strangely enough, there are so many states that have moved to creating laws and Pennsylvania has struggled.” For the last five years, Sen. Elder Vogel (R., Beaver) has been trying to pass legislation that would allow the state to oversee health providers practicing remote medicine and explicitly require insurers to reimburse for it. But each year, the measure has failed. In 2016, it never came out of committee. In 2018, it passed the Senate but died in the House. Last year, the bill passed both chambers, but Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed it after Rep. Kathy Rapp (R., Warren), who chairs the House Health Committee, amended it to prohibit providers from prescribing abortion-inducing medicine via telehealth. Because there is no law mandating telemedicine in Pennsylvania, there’s nothing barring providers from practicing it, but insurers are not required to cover it. In other states, laws provide parity between in-person and remote health-care services. Instead, insurance companies decide what kinds of telehealth appointments are covered based on their own policies and the agreements they may work out with health-care networks or individual doctors. The process can be onerous for health-care providers that aren’t part of a broader network, Wibberly said, because each patient’s coverage may be different. “What happens now in Pennsylvania is a patient will call the office and ask if they can have a telehealth visit and a provider will say no because they don’t want to have to go through all the checks on this particular insurer, and sometimes it’s not even the insurer, it’s plan by plan.” This can result in providers declining telehealth services even when a patient’s insurance covers them. Gibson, who receives coverage through a private insurer under the Medicare program, recently called the company to set up a telehealth appointment after she felt a cold coming on. “Being that I have the beginning of COPD, I need to nip that as soon as it happens,” she said. The first doctor she connected with over the phone refused to treat her. “They told me they can’t talk to me about anything like that, that’s not what telehealth is for,” she said. A second doctor wouldn’t prescribe her medicine over the phone. The next day, a call with a third doctor finally resulted in a prescription. No guarantees While a vital tool, telehealth has its limitations, according to patient advocates, especially for people with disabilities or those who lack access to technology. “Telehealth in many ways has been helpful in getting additional attention on medical needs, but it’s not a catchall, it’s not a panacea,” said Patrick Keenan, the director of consumer protections and policy for the Pennsylvania Health Access Network. Still, patients and providers across Pennsylvania have come to rely on telehealth to access care they otherwise wouldn’t be able to — despite the lack of clear regulation. Maria and Peter Welsh, a couple from Allentown, tried driving their son Robert two hours to his specialist appointments after he suffered a traumatic brain injury while driving home for Thanksgiving last year. But Robert’s injury made the changing light and the movement of the car intolerable, and the pandemic made leaving the house risky for Peter and Maria, who are in their 80s. Robert now sees his doctor every few weeks via video call. “It’s a big thing for people in our situation,” Peter Welsh said. Jerry Webb, a Williamsport resident, said his son, nephew, and brother all relied on telehealth during the pandemic, when offices were closed and they couldn’t get care for their intellectual disabilities. Even as offices have reopened, Webb helps his family members call their doctors to do wellness checks. And in Warfordsburg, Caitlyn Morrell sets up video visits with her patients, who have few options for health care in rural Fulton County. Morrell, a traveling nurse-practitioner, uses the initial calls to triage her patients’ needs, she said. “Then I can decide what supplies I need to bring, what swabs I need to have,” she said. “It just kind of gives me an idea or ballpark so I’m not bringing the whole office to them.” Right now, most insurers are paying for telehealth, said Sam Marshall, president of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, a lobby for the industry. Insurers have worked with hospitals and health networks to develop their own standards on how to provide telehealth to patients, and Vogel’s legislation would codify those standards, Marshall said. “I can say that as a general rule of thumb, telemedicine isn’t going away,” he said. “We have not been brought kicking and screaming to the world of telemedicine. It’s something we as insurers have been promoting ourselves.” But without regulations, there’s no guarantee to care, experts said. “The challenge with it is the payment for the services,” said Lisa Davis, director for the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health at Pennsylvania State University. “There has been a tug between the providers — the hospitals and the clinics and the payers — in terms of what is considered to be telehealth and how it will be paid.” The Pennsylvania Department of State implemented a temporary policy at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that explicitly allows licensed health-care providers to practice telemedicine, but that waiver expires in March. Vogel’s bill passed the Senate in October. Legislators referred it to the House Insurance Committee rather than the Health Committee, which Rapp chairs, “a good sign,” Vogel said. There is talk in the Senate about drafting a separate piece of legislation to address the abortion issues that tanked his bill last year, he said. Rep. Tina Pickett (R., Bradford), who chairs the House Insurance Committee, said legislators are still consulting with stakeholders regarding the legislation and a committee vote hasn’t been scheduled. Rapp, who amended the bill last year to prohibit abortion care, didn’t respond to a question asking whether she plans to pursue the same amendment this session. “These drugs have no place in my legislation,” Vogel said. “My bill is setting up guidelines, what providers provide, and what insurance companies pay for. I think that’s what’s going to finally happen.” WHILE YOU’RE HERE … If you learned something from this story, pay it forward and become a member of Spotlight PA so someone else can in the future at spotlightpa.org/donate. Spotlight PA is funded by foundationsand readers like you who are committed to accountability journalism that gets results.

Bermudian Springs approves mask exemptions

One day before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the statewide mask mandate imposed by Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary, the Bermudian Springs School Board approved a mask exemption form. According to Superintendent Shane Hotchkiss, the form will remain on file for students even with the current mandate no longer in effect. The board approved the form with an 8-1 vote during a building and grounds meeting on Thursday evening. Board Vice President Matthew Nelson had the sole opposing vote due to concerns about liability. “A lot of other school districts clearly have gone down this path, and I have no idea what’s going to happen with them,” Nelson said. “Maybe nothing will happen with them, but that’s a gamble with public money. It’s not our money. So they’re going to take a chance that could jeopardize everything we do at Bermudian by taking that chance. So it seems to me that instead of marginalizing all of the hard work that everybody at our district has put in, we’re close to the end.” Board member Jennifer Goldhahn said she was concerned parents could file a class action lawsuit against the district or that parents would pull students from the district. Board member Travis Mathna agreed that parents might sue, adding that he was a parent who had withdrawn his student due to the mask mandate. Superintendent Shane Hotchkiss stressed that the form was for an “exception,” not an “exemption.” The form asked parents to agree to several statements: I confirm that wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition, or disability. I confirm that my child has exhausted all other alternatives to a face covering, including the use of a face shield. I confirm that my child and I understand there may be an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. I understand that the district may ask for additional documentation to confirm my child’s exemption. I understand this request may trigger a child-find obligation and would require the district to complete a team evaluation under Section 504. If this is determined, I will be provided with information about the process and a copy of my parental rights. If my child has an IEP or 504 plan, this request may require the IEP team or Section 504 team to reconvene to make appropriate revisions. Hotchkiss said gaining access to an exemption would be simple. “Here’s what I want everybody to walk away with an understanding: you have to check the boxes that you confirm that you’ve read (and) that you agree with the statements,” Hotchkiss said. “That’s it: name, check, sign, date, and turn into your child’s office.” Hotchkiss said he modified it based on what other nearby districts used and also ran the form by the district solicitor before presenting it to the board. Some other districts make parents or guardians agree that their child will quarantine if they were exposed to someone with COVID-19 while not wearing a mask. Hotchkiss said the form the board approved means that Bermudian Springs will not. “Here you have a choice to quarantine, and these places that have that exception, that’s not a choice,” Hotchkiss said. “That’s part of what their agreement is.” Hotchkiss said parents or guardians could print and return the form to the office immediately. The form only covers children, not adults, according to Hotchkiss. He said nearby districts also only have forms designed for students. With the statewide mask mandate being thrown out, the district reverted to its health and safety plan, which has a mask-optional policy. The students’ forms could potentially be applied in the future. “But (the exemption forms will) still be on file, similar to the 504s,” Hotchkiss said. The board went into an executive session before adjourning.

Free vaccine clinic brings out a crowd at the annual Winter Fiesta

The Pennsylvania Department of Health sponsored a free vaccine clinic on Friday evening and, according to an organizer, 77 doses of Covid and flu vaccines were administered, including 28 given to pediatric patients. Parents and children came to the clinic as part of the annual Winter Fiesta held on the Gettysburg College campus. Speaking at an event earlier in the day to promote the clinic, PA Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said the Covid vaccine “protects against disease and hospitalization.” Johnson said progress was being made on combatting Covid.  “We’re in a different place that we were last year.  We’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go. The acute phase of the pandemic is far from over,” she said. Speaking about pediatric vaccines, Johnson said inoculating children 5 years of age and over “helps the community, helps the parents, and helps the kids.” Johnson said the Covid vaccine was free and effective and “keeps kids safe and allows them to participate in activities.” Johnson said the state was working to make vaccines as accessible as possible. “Your best protection for yourself and your community is to get those vaccines,” she said. Johnson also expressed concern about flu, saying there were currently more cases this year than there were during the same period in 2019. Johnson recommended getting a flu vaccination.

FASD struggles on masks as Covid data and parents wishes point in opposite directions.

The Fairfield Area School Board voted on Monday evening to make masks mandatory during times of ‘high’ or ‘very high’ COVID-19 transmission, even after the state mandate is discontinued. The board also welcomed its new members and held its annual reorganization meeting. Jack Liller, Kelly Christiano, Matthew DeGennaro, Candace Ferguson-Miller, Richard Phillip and Theodore Sayres Jr. were sworn in. Members Jennifer Holz, Lashay Kalathas and Lauren Clark have terms that do not expire until 2023. Holz was made president following a 7-2 vote and Liller secured the vice president’s seat with a vote of 6-3. Both Holz and Liller will hold one-year terms. Phillip was appointed as the Pennsylvania School Boards Association legislative chairperson. The board voted to change its health and safety plan following recommendations by administrators in order to help reduce the number of ill and quarantined children missing school in Fairfield following exposures. District Nurse Kristi Ebaugh said Fairfield currently does not follow CDC recommendations regarding quarantining. It also does not follow guidance about social distancing due to a lack of space. Ebaugh said making masks mandatory during times of higher rates of transmission would help keep children in the classroom. “In last two weeks alone, we had to quarantine 37 students,” Ebaugh said. “It’s been because of one of the students not wearing a mask or time at lunch or sports. If there were no masks at all, we would have had to quarantine 206 students. That’s 206 students K-12 who would not be in school.” Prior to the mask mandate, a higher percentage of Fairfield children tested positive for COVID-19 than they do now during the mandate, according to Ebaugh. She said that in her children’s classrooms, only about three children continued to wear a mask when they were optional. “That, to me, speaks about what the parents want,” Ferguson-Miller said. The new plan keeps masks required but provides more flexibility on quarantining procedures. Mask exemptions will still be allowed if the parent, school nurse and school administrator sign the paper for it. Interim Superintendent Larry Redding said a conversation informing parents about the risks will happen before anything was signed. “Our intent is encouraging the continued use of masks because it has this documentation in Fairfield that says the cases of infection are lower when more students are wearing masks,” Redding said. “So having the conversation, ‘Is this what you want for your child, to be exposed to a higher level of infection, and do you recognize the risks by signing that you are taking on that additional parental responsibility?’ And if you say, ‘Yes, I recognize that,’ there’s no objection from the administrator. But it’s not just ‘mail us in a for.’ You need to recognize your son is at a higher risk if he doesn’t wear a mask.” Phillip said exposure can happen outside school. Ebaugh pointed out that there are no other environments were large groups of children are kept in close contact for several hours a day, increasing their risk of infection. “That’s why these recommendations are here,” Redding said. “We know we are putting kids at risk by being close, by being there for 90 minutes or seven and a half hours or whatever, and we have an obligation to do what we can to provide the best, safest environment that’s going to translate back to kids staying in the classroom. That’s really the context that we need to look at this. We can’t spread them out.” Some board members wanted to make masks optional regardless of the transmission level. Ebaugh said that based on data from the last time masks were optional, the number of quarantined students would spike. Along with keeping children out of school, it would mean far more work for staff, she said. Because of masks, she only had to quarantine 37 students instead of 206 in the past two weeks. “As it stands with the 15 positives that we had on Friday and Saturday, I worked for about 13 hours over the weekend,” Ebaugh said. “I worked until 10 on Friday night, 6 p.m. on Thursday night. There’s no way I could call 206 students.” Some board members questioned why the mandate should continue on a local basis rather than allowing parents the option to decide if their child should wear a mask. “We had none of those numbers and we sent kids to school without masks or with the option, and now we know what that does,” Holz said. “Something about this has to change based on those numbers.” Liller said when the optional masking policy was approved before the mandate was in effect, the number of cases were trending downward in the summer. The rate of spread is now higher. Ebaugh asked the board to use the district’s data when making its decision. “I think the state allowed boards to make the decision and we saw how that went in September and they did the mask mandate,” Ebaugh said. “Now they’re trying to give it back to us. We have all this data. I think we should make an educational decision based on all of the data that we have, which has definitely changed since the beginning of August.” The new quarantine policy is significantly relaxed from CDC guidelines. Parents informed of their child’s exposure to someone in school with COVID-19 will have the choice to quarantine if their child does not exhibit symptoms. Anyone who is exposed and returns to school within 14 days of the exposure will have to wear a mask, regardless of mask exemptions. The plan does contain a caveat: “FASD will return to quarantine requirements if more than one positive case is noted in the same classroom within 14 days or if there is an increased trend in positive cases at school.” The choice to quarantine only applies to exposure that occurs in school. Students exposed elsewhere will have to follow CDC quarantine guidelines. Two proposed amendments to the plan failed. The first would have removed requirements for audience members and spectators in indoor venues filled to 75% or higher capacity to wear a mask. It failed 5-4. The second would have made masks fully optional and failed 6-3. The plans without any amendments passed 6-3. Other business The board approved the hire of a temporary elementary interventionist for the 2021-22 school year. Administrators told the board that the pandemic has resulted in a significantly higher need for intervention specialists. Even with this position added, many students will still not receive intervention. The board discussed the possibility of adding another position for reading and math intervention. Fourth-grade teacher Sarah Baugh and her students provided a presentation about their recent embryology project. The students broke into small groups to show their posters to board members. They then went to a separate room to make the same presentation to their parents or guardians. There was no public comment. The board’s next regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10 in the district board room. Meetings are also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

PA Department of Health Urges Residents to Get Flu Vaccine as the Season Intensifies

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Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Health officials today announced that as of Dec. 7, there have been 5,036 laboratory-confirmed flu cases and two flu-associated deaths statewide. As flu season intensifies, the department urges Pennsylvanians to get their flu vaccine today if they have not already done so. “Flu cases are increasing significantly as we had an over 2,000 case increase in just one week,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “We are concerned with the growing number of cases and want to remind Pennsylvanians to take preventative measures, including getting a flu vaccine to protect themselves, their family, and communities from the flu this season.” Flu activity is high across the commonwealth. There are flu cases in 65 of the 67 counties. Influenza A and B have been identified by laboratory testing. Influenza-Like Illness (ILI), experiencing symptoms of fever and cough or sore throat, has increased slightly since last week. While flu seasons vary and more people are getting tested more frequently as COVID-19 symptoms can be like flu symptoms, this week’s report is higher than this same week last year and even higher when compared to this same week in 2019. At this time, it is still below the state epidemic threshold. There have been two deaths, both in the 65+ age group, reported in Pennsylvania during the current flu season thus far. This week marks National Influenza Vaccination Week, a reminder of the importance of flu vaccination in prevention of flu complications and deaths. “If you have not already gotten your flu vaccine this season, please do so right away,” Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection Ray Barishansky said. “We know that people who get the flu after being vaccinated have less severe symptoms and are not sick for as long as those who do not get vaccinated. We also know that the COVID-19 vaccines do not protect you from getting the flu. So, while we have been encouraging everyone to get COVID-19 vaccines, you still also need to get your flu vaccine.” The vaccines are available as a flu shot for anyone six months or older and as a flu shot or nasal spray for anyone two or older. Flu vaccines are available at your doctor’s office, pharmacy, local walk-in clinic or grocery store. COVID-19 and flu vaccines can be received at the same time. For a list of flu vaccination clinics in Pennsylvania, click here. Flu is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. It attacks the nose, throat and lungs and may include the following symptoms: Fever; Headache; Tiredness; Dry cough; Sore throat; Nasal congestion; and Body aches. “Keeping Pennsylvanians safe and healthy remains our number one concern,” said Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson. “It is extremely important that in addition to getting vaccinated, Pennsylvanians practice healthy habits such as covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, frequently washing your hands, and remembering to disinfect commonly touched objects, including door knobs, light switches, countertops, cell phones and computers. You can also take advantage of the COVID Alert PA app to monitor your flu and COVID-19 symptoms since they are similar. “If you do become sick with the flu, it is imperative that you stay home. If you are at risk for developing serious complications from the flu, or feel extremely ill, you should see a medical professional immediately to determine your need for testing or isolation.” For more information on the 2021-2022 flu season, click here. Additional information on how to stay healthy and prevent the spread of flu and COVID-19 can be found on the Department of Health’s website, Facebook, and Twitter.

HABPI honors eastern Adams rail-to-trail organization

Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc. (HABPI) has named Healthy Eastern Adams Rails & Trails (HEART) its Trailblazer of the Year in recognition of the organization’s work to advance the development of the East Berlin Railroad Trail. The pedestrian and bicycle friendly trail is slated to run from the town of East Berlin to Berlin Junction, a stop on the historic Western Maryland Railroad located just southeast of New Oxford. Phase One of the trail will be integrated into the planned Kuhn’s Woods public park in East Berlin. A second phase is planned to continue south from East Berlin to Pine Run Road. This is the first such project in the eastern Adams region of the county. “We’re encouraged by the good work HEART is doing to build a rail trail out of East Berlin,” said HABPI president Eric Meyer. “By planning to work closely with the East Berlin Borough Council, East Berlin Parks and Recreation Commission, and Hamilton Township, they’re doing a great job moving the project toward fruition. An in-depth feasibility study was completed in 2015. We’re looking forward to seeing this trail take shape as an excellent resource for healthy outdoor recreation for the community. “The hard-working, all-volunteer HEART Board certainly deserves this recognition,” said Meyer. “They’re fostering long-term health, quality of life, and economic development for the community.” HABPI is dedicated to developing walking and bicycling trails in Adams County for recreation and transportation. It names a Trailblazer of the Year annually to recognize community members who have contributed significantly to the development of walking and bicycling trails in Adams County. For more information, visit HABPI.org.

COVID, particularly among the unvaccinated, spikes in Adams

red and black abstract art

Adams County is again experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, with the disease occurring primarily among the unvaccinated. There have been over 250 new COVID cases in Adams County over the past week, and Gettysburg Hospital is now caring for 23 patients with 4 of them on ventilators. As a comparison, the number of hospitalized patients over the summer months was generally less than five and at the height of the pandemic surge last fall the number of patients reached 40. Wellspan Health said that among the patients across all of their care centers: 88 percent are unvaccinated. 92 percent in intensive care units are unvaccinated. 93 percent requiring a ventilator to breathe are unvaccinated. The upsurge in cases has led Wellspan to again begin redeploying resources and delaying non-emergency care across its care locations. WellSpan said that this same time last year they saw the largest surge of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. This again appears to be a factor as people spend more time indoors and with those who may be unvaccinated. The rate of increase over the past month is as great as was last fall’s wave and shows no signs of peaking. Wellspan urged community members to stay vigilant with safety measures like hand washing, masking, and social distancing and to get the COVID-19 vaccine. WellSpan said it was also tracking the new and likely more contagious Omicron variant, saying the mutated virus is currently under study to assess transmissibility, severity of infection (including symptoms), evasion against vaccines and diagnostic tests, and effectiveness of treatments. For more information please see the Wellspan data dashboard.

Remembering

This Thanksgiving “vacation” has been both chaotic and wonderful. Some of our vaccinated family came to help care for and spend time with their father and grandfather. One evening, we dug out old photo albums, laughing and reminiscing. But, what are we to do with old albums that are too precious to throw away, yet are falling apart? Fortunately, our parents had taken time to identify many of the people in the pictures. Even so, there is so much history without sufficient written information. Slides and home movies were the big thing when I was growing up. We spent many an evening with extended family looking at slides and home movies. In fact, it was one of our favorite forms of entertainment. After all, we didn’t get our first television until I was in college. Unfortunately, most of that history has gone the way of all flesh, though some pictures were transferred to CD’s before we threw them out some 15 or 20 years ago. However, with the rapid turnover of technology, we no longer can read those CD’s on our laptops. Today we record our lives on cell phones and store them in the cloud, all of which are absolutely inaccessible without passwords and email addresses. What happens to our understanding of history when that information is gone? One of the greatest gifts my dad and husband’s mother gave us was writing names and brief descriptions on the backs of many of the faded pictures in our albums, helping us identify old faces, houses and log cabins that are part of our family history. How will future archivists research history and family trees? We Americans have such short memories. It’s one thing to value the moment and try to live one day at a time, but that philosophy does not mean blotting out the past and ignoring the very things that shape today. How can we know who are if we have no idea from whence we’ve come? The kind of revisionist history that seems so popular today may make us momentarily feel better, but it does little to help us understand the who, what, when, where, and why of the many challenges currently facing us. While it is uncomfortable to recognize that some of our ancestors kept slaves, favored eugenics, participated in lynchings, etc. no amount of pretense can make those facts go away. Gaining some understanding of where we come from can help us understand and unravel some of the challenges we currently face. Nothing happens in a vacuum. While I have never been a hoarder, I am still overwhelmed by all of the “junk”, papers, pictures, records, sermons, and writings we have hung on to over the years. Thank goodness we are going through those things while we can help our children do the sorting. Our girls have spent hours in their dad’s study sorting through boxes of records, with their dad enthroned in his wheelchair, fleece stole thrown over his shoulders like a royal stole. There is much to be said about living in the moment and taking one day at a time, which we are focusing on doing right now. We can’t undo the past nor can we predict the future. Yet, that does not mean we forget the past or discount our many life experiences. While we are constantly evolving, becoming, we are still the products of our past and the past of our forebearers. In one of the documents we found, my dad, the family genealogist, wrote in 1976 that he had traced our family tree back 8 generations. That means that within those 8 generations, we potentially had 256 great-great-great-great-great grandparents, each of whom continue to influence who we are today.

GARA reports a healthy year; moves forward on splash park

girl standing on pool

Gettysburg Area Recreational Authority (GARA) Executive Director Erin Peddigree reported to the borough council about the rec park on Monday evening, saying finances had been improving but that there were still challenges ahead. Peddigree reviewed the many events held at the park including the 4th of July fireworks and said that big projects over the past years had included playground renovations, updates to the Weikert baseball field, and installation of a very popular bicycle pump track. Peddigree said the park had 1 full-time position (the Executive Director) and 7 part-time positions and that most of GARA’s income comes from contributions from Gettysburg Borough and Cumberland Township. The rest comes from rentals and contributions. Peddigree said GARA had done well financially during the pandemic. “The rec park became a place for a lot of people to go to the past 2 years. If they want to have a birthday party or a celebration or just to get outside and walk.” Peddigree said the rec park has been in existence around since 1940 and had been built by the community. “This is a really big community park but some of the things are starting to fall apart,” she said. Peddigree said the rec park had three parking lots and at least 2 of them need to be repaved at a cost of about $80,000 to $100,000. She said the bathrooms in the park are all between 20 and 40 years old and that the maintenance equipment was aging. “Our two zero-turn mowers are about 16 years old which is a very long lifespan,” she said. Peddigree said she would also like to update the Youth Activities Building. “We’ve had some vandalism. To get some security cameras in the park would be good.” Peddigree thanked the staff and especially the three part-time maintenance workers. “How clean it is; how nice it is, is really thanks to those three guys,” she said Peddigree said she was hoping the park would receive a grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), perhaps in the $100,000 range, and that a community panel would be created to discuss the park’s needs during the application process. Peddigree said a new splash park was being considered as part of the DCNR grant and that the park needed to map out the location of underground utilities. “We have to go under and see where everything connects. It’s going to take a year or two.” Borough President Wesley Heyser said the money from the Borough and Cumberland Township was only designated as operational funds and that the borough had budgeted money in its capital projects funds to help the park with bathrooms and security cameras. Heyser said he did not think the rec park would likely be self-sustaining but that the situation was better than it had been. Heyser said looking back 20 years or so “the borough was spending a lot more than it is today. You folks at GARA are doing excellent work and you provide real value to the community.” “We’ll keep trying different fundraisers,” said Peddigree.

GARA Reports new income in 2021; Considers a long-range strategic plan

Gettysburg Area Recreational Authority (GARA) Executive Director Erin Peddigree said most of the official sports activities were closing down for the winter months but that there were still many people using the park. She said many new trees and a butterfly garden have been planted and thanked the Girl Scouts and the Green Gathering for their help. Peddigree said about 150 children showed up at the inaugural Trick or Treat Trail in October and that a holiday crafts show would be held during the Christmas Festival weekends. The board discussed the conditions of the maintenance equipment at the park. Board President Steve Neibler said he had received calls from the maintenance crew about broken equipment. The rec park particularly needs a new zero-turn mower and a utility vehicle. The board tentatively approved the 2022 budget of about $220,000. Peddigree said GARA had received $6,000 from the inaugural Fourth of July Fireworks event and that, due to an increase in the number of tour buses holding lunches in the park, rentals on the pavilions were up to about $14,000 this year from a normal $5,000-$6,000 level in past years.    Peddigree said she was hoping that both the Borough and Cumberland Township would be increasing their contributions to the park from $52,000 to $70,000 in 2022. The budget includes about $20,000 in building upgrades, $10,000 for equipment repair, and $4,000 for equipment purchases. Peddigree said a bus trip to New York City would hopefully be scheduled in 2022. Tom Demko, who joined the board in October, said he would be willing to play a leadership role on developing a new strategic plan for the rec park. Board members said there had been a general 10-year plan when the rec park had been founded and agreed a new strategic plan would be useful. Demko said the plan would provide opportunities to engage people in the community and develop partnerships and that the planning process could begin as early as 2022. “Maybe there are opportunities we’re not thinking of,” he said. The plan would assess the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for the rec park, perhaps conducting focus groups to learn public perceptions. “Planning projects can be very beneficial,” said Demko.

Gettysburg Hospital Foundation Grant Funding Makes Big Impact on Local Youth

The Gettysburg Hospital Foundation continues to respond to the need for important health initiatives in the community, as it will provide $203,261 in grant funding for the 2022 fiscal year to Healthy Adams County and services of WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital.  While the essential funding will support efforts including food insecurity, children’s health and education, mental health and mindfulness, and important innovations in nursing, it will also impact pediatric services throughout Adams County.  More than 90 pediatric patients across speech, physical and occupational therapies have already benefitted from special toys and equipment.  “When I come to therapy, I get to play with new toys that help me learn and grow.” Said Olive, a 3-year-old who has benefitted from occupational therapy supported through the Gettysburg Hospital Foundation.   The Gettysburg Hospital Foundation’s role is to inspire gifts and grants from individuals, foundations, businesses and other entities to support the health and well-being of people in Adams County and communities in nearby northern Maryland.  “The awards granted this year align with the foundation’s priorities of community benefit as well as education and innovation in health care. It’s heartwarming to see donor dollars put to use in ways that help children like Olive and families in Adams County and northern Maryland,” said Kristin Vought, development director, Gettysburg Hospital Foundation.   These grants extend WellSpan’s mission of providing care for all and support the ongoing work of partnering organizations like Healthy Adams County. Since 2013, the Gettysburg Hospital Foundation has awarded more than $693,000 in grants to support Healthy Adams County.  “The grants we receive from the Gettysburg Hospital Foundation bring much needed relief to the community by helping many to eat healthier, take part in wellness opportunities and address safety concerns,” said Kathy Gaskin, executive director, Healthy Adams County.  Grants allocated by Gettysburg Hospital Foundation will support the following programs and initiatives of Healthy Adams County:  Healthy Options, Food Access for Seniors and Fruit & Veggie Bucks programs to support healthy nutrition by providing reduced cost of fresh fruits and vegetables to more than 2,000 qualified individuals and families;  Distribution of child car seats for more than 100 qualified families;  Stress reduction and mindfulness courses for the community;  Walking and wellness programs for community residents;  Cribs for Kids equipment to support healthy newborn sleep practices for qualified families;  Suicide prevention campaign efforts across Adams County  Grants allocated by the foundation will also fund the following programs and services provided by WellSpan in Adams County:  Healthy Options, Food Access for Seniors and Fruit & Veggie Bucks programs to support healthy nutrition by providing reduced cost of fresh fruits and vegetables to more than 2,000 qualified individuals and families  Sleep sacks for newborns to help prevent SIDS and promote safe sleep habits Specialized pediatric therapy equipment for the WellSpan Rehabilitation-Herr’s Ridge location with additional funding support by Ability Prosthetics and Orthotics Maternity education equipment Gettysburg Hospital Foundation is a community-based, not-for-profit corporation. To become a donor or for more information, please contact the Gettysburg Hospital Foundation at (717) 337-4175. 

COVID cases decline in Adams but are still higher than other areas

Recent data show that Covid-19 cases in Adams County have fallen by 20 percent in the past two weeks, but that the number of cases per 100,000 remains higher than the U.S. average and many other local regions. The current positive test rate in Adams is 35 positive cases per 100,000 people tested suggesting widespread community transmission. There are currently 21 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in the county with 2 on ventilators. Because of high spread rate and the fact that only about 1/2 of the people in Adams County are vaccinated, people in Adams County are at an extremely high risk for Covid-19 infections. The C.D.C. recommends that even vaccinated people wear masks here. Since January of last year, at least 1 in 7 people who live in Adams County have been infected, and at least 1 in 438 people have died.

WellSpan Health and Johns Hopkins Medicine announce new oncology collaboration across South Central Pennsylvania

 WellSpan Health and Johns Hopkins Medicine today announced plans to fight cancer together in South Central Pennsylvania. The comprehensive collaboration will combine the expertise of WellSpan cancer physicians and programs with the innovative clinical, research and educational capabilities of Johns Hopkins Medicine.  WellSpan patients across South Central Pennsylvania who have cancer will benefit from a collaborative approach between the two organizations through shared treatment protocols, improved genomics capabilities, research projects and access to Johns Hopkins Medicine’s expanded network of subspecialty physicians. All of these services will broaden the options close to home for life-saving care of patients with complex cancers.   “Fighting cancer requires a trusted partner, and at WellSpan Health, we are expanding on our collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine to deliver the very best for our patients,” says Roxanna Gapstur, Ph.D., R.N., president & chief executive officer, WellSpan Health. “Our combined teams of physicians, faculty and research scientists will work closely with patients to offer the latest treatments and leading-edge therapeutic options within a state-of-the-art program for our friends and neighbors in South Central Pennsylvania.” WellSpan Health and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have had a long-standing clinical and research collaboration since 2017, with a designated comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.   “This relationship represents our shared approach to bringing the best care to patients in the South Central Pennsylvania region, and we are so proud to expand the collaboration to include clinical trials, peer-to-peer consultations and educational opportunities,” says Kevin W. Sowers, M.S.N., R.N., F.A.A.N., president of the Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine. WellSpan’s cancer experts see nearly 4,000 new patients annually across all their cancer centers, including the newly expanded WellSpan York Cancer Center, which opened this past summer. The collaboration agreement with Johns Hopkins Medicine will extend to and benefit all of WellSpan’s cancer centers, including the WellSpan Adams Cancer Center, the WellSpan Ephrata Cancer Center, the WellSpan Sechler Family Cancer Center and WellSpan cancer care locations in Franklin County. To learn more about the collaboration between WellSpan Health and Johns Hopkins Medicine, visit WellSpan.org/cancer. About WellSpan Health WellSpan Health is an integrated health system that serves the communities of central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. The organization includes a clinically integrated network of approximately 2,600 physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs), including more than 1,600 employed physicians and APPs; a regional behavioral health organization; a home care organization; eight respected hospitals; approximately 20,000 employees; and more than 200 patient care locations. WellSpan is a charitable, mission-driven organization, committed to exceptional care for all, lifelong wellness and healthy communities. Visit WellSpan.org.

Children and COVID-19 vaccine FAQ

girl getting vaccine

How old must a child be to receive a COVID-19 vaccine? Anyone 5 years or older is eligible for vaccination under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines Teens 12 and older became eligible for vaccination in early summer. At the beginning of November, children ages 5-11 became eligible for the shot. The FDA determined that “based on the totality of scientific evidence available, the known and potential benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in individuals down to 5 years of age outweigh the known and potential risks.” Is the vaccine safe for children?  “The vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children ages 5 through11 who received the vaccine, and no serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing study,” according to the FDA.  How many shots do children get and what is the timing? Like adults and teens, children get two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, three weeks apart.  Why do children and teens need a vaccine? While most COVID-19 cases in children are mild, the delta variant created an increase in related hospitalizations of children, particularly in states with low adult vaccination rates. The vaccine is an effective measure against COVID-19 for children, according to the FDA. “Immune responses of children 5 through 11 years of age were comparable to those of individuals 16 through 25 years of age. In addition, the vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children 5 through 11,” according to an FDA report. How did approval happen? Under federal law, the FDA may allow medical products that are not yet approved to be used in emergencies where there are “no adequate, approved and available alternatives.” The FDA commissioners approved an emergency use authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. The CDC then recommended vaccination for about 28 million children in that age category. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots are not yet approved for children.  When will children under 5 years old be eligible for vaccination? Clinical trials are underway for children under 5 years old. Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, told reporters that approval for younger children is still several months away. Younger children are affected the least in terms of severe disease, Marks said.  What are the possible side effects of the vaccine? Possible side effects,according to theCDC, include pain, redness, swelling, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever or nausea. “These side effects may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities, but (the effects) should go away in a few days.” The vaccine does not contain active virus, so there is no risk of anyone becoming infected with COVID-19 as a result of the vaccine. Where can kids and teens get their shots?  Shots are available at many pharmacies across the state. They are also available through individual health care providers and local health departments. See the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ website or call the NC COVID-19 vaccine hotline (888-675-4567) for appointment information.  Are there mass vaccination sites for children?  No. Unlike earlier rollouts, the vaccination process for children will not take place at mass vaccination sites. Instead, children may receive the shot through individual providers. How much does it cost? Does my child need insurance to get the vaccine?  The vaccine is free and available without regard to insurance status.  What is the dosage of the vaccine for children?  The vaccines approved for children 5-11 is 10 micrograms, or one-third of the adult dosage. The shots are packaged differently from adult doses to avoid inadvertent administration of an adult dose to a child.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout for children ages 5 to 11 comes with familiar obstacles

White House officials hope to assure hesitant parents and head off misinformation while making sure marginalized communities have access to doses early on. As the White House rolls out its COVID-19 vaccination program for children ages 5 to 11, concerns about vaccine hesitancy and equitable access are top of mind for Biden administration officials. Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the White House’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, told The 19th she hopes evidence and data can help alleviate parents’ concerns and push against misinformation surrounding the vaccine. She said she wants parents to understand the thorough research that went into conducting and assessing the clinical trials for younger school-age children. The scientists and researchers “have the right expertise and the right training and are really bringing in a lot of diverse perspectives here,” Nunez-Smith said, adding that the safety and efficacy data are strong. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee on Tuesday unanimously recommended that children 5 to 11 years old get vaccinated against the coronavirus, using a low-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that has been given emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. Based on the trial data, the Pfizer-BioNTech’s smaller vaccine dose for this age group is 90.7 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections. Misinformation circulating about the vaccine has been “one of the more surprising and disturbing and challenging parts of” vaccination efforts during the pandemic, Nunez-Smith said. As a result, the administration and public health experts have looked to trusted sources of information like pediatricians, making sure they have the facts to relay to families. Childhood vaccinations have driven down the number of deaths from infectious diseases overall. In light of that, the fact that an estimated 700 children have died from COVID-19 is a “staggeringly high number,” Nunez-Smith said. The Biden administration said the program for 5 to 11 year olds will be fully operational by November 8, with doses being provided by 20,000 locations around the country, including pediatric and family care practices, pharmacies, hospitals and school clinics. Nunez-Smith said the administration is coordinating with state and local officials to ensure equitable access to vaccine doses is baked into the program.  Low income, rural, Black, Indigenous and Latinx people have experienced more challenges with vaccine access during the pandemic. In addition to equitable distribution of the vaccine doses, factors like access to transportation or the ability to take time off to help get their child vaccinated are important factors. From April 1 through September 30 of this year, the Biden administration offered a tax credit for small and medium-sized employers to provide paid leave for workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine or recover from any after effects. But that benefit did not include parents taking time to get their children vaccinated. Nunez-Smith said the administration will continue to push for paid leave options and circulate other key information: that the vaccine is free to the public and does not require proof of insurance or citizenship documentation. “I think this is really, as the president said, just a really important turning moment for the health of our children, the wellness of our children, the educational attainment and achievement of our children,” Nunez-Smith said. “The vaccine is the most powerful tool in the toolbox.” This vaccine breakthrough will bring relief to many families, particularly those with immunocompromised children like Elena Hung’s. Hung’s 7-year-old daughter, Xiomara, has a number of medical needs and developmental disabilities that put her at higher risk. This means her family has lived in near total lockdown since March 2020: having groceries delivered, virtual schooling and chats with friends on Zoom.   “It has been absolutely devastating and filled with anxiety and fear. It’s no exaggeration for me to say that every single day of this pandemic has been a life and death matter,” said Hung, who is the co-founder and executive director of the children’s advocacy group Little Lobbyists,. Her two children have vaccination appointments for next week, and she feels like a weight has been lifted. After nearly 20 months of social distancing, Hung said she hasn’t thought much about what life will look like once her family is fully vaccinated. “In large part it will depend on how many children are going to get vaccinated,” Hung said. “It’s approved, it’s available, but will parents take their kids to get vaccinated?”

WellSpan Health recognized as one of ‘Most Wired’ Health Systems

WellSpan Health is pleased to announce that it has been named one of the nation’s “Digital Health Most Wired” health systems by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). WellSpan is honored with the Quality Award in two categories: domestic ambulatory and acute care settings. The Most Wired program conducts an annual survey to assess how effectively health care organizations use advanced technologies in their clinical and business programs to improve the health of their communities. More than 36,674 organizations completed the survey this year to assess the adoption, integration and impact of technologies in health care at all stages of development.  “WellSpan Health puts the power of data into the hands of its leaders and caregivers every day to ensure that our patients are receiving the best care possible,” said Dr. R. Hal Baker, WellSpan’s senior vice president and chief digital and information officer. “We are honored to receive this recognition for our dedicated IT team that continues to innovate our care delivery processes, which we know can make things easier for our patients while also increasing access to high-quality care in our communities.”  In 2020, WellSpan’s digital information teams played a key role in increasing access to telehealth from 155,000 to 325,000 patients when they needed it most during the pandemic. Digital advances also led to allowing our caregivers more access to data at the bedside to assist them in delivering exceptional patient care.    To achieve this recognition from CHIME, WellSpan and others in this group implemented advanced technologies, including telemedicine, access to data at the bedside and cost analysis tools, and leveraged them to improve care, patient experience and access to services, while reducing costs.  “Digital transformation in healthcare has accelerated to an unprecedented level since 2020, and the next few years will bring a wave of innovation that empowers healthcare consumers and will astound the industry,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell. “The Digital Health Most Wired program recognizes the outstanding digital leaders who have paved the way for this imminent revolution in healthcare. Their trailblazing commitment to rapid transformation has set an example for the entire industry in how to pursue a leadership vision with determination, brilliant planning and courage to overcome all challenges.”  This is the fourth year that CHIME has conducted the surveys and overseen the Most Wired program. Each participating organization received an overall score, as well as scores for individual levels in eight segments: infrastructure; security; business/disaster recovery; administrative/supply chain; analytics/data management; interoperability/population health; patient engagement; and clinical quality/safety. About WellSpan Health WellSpan Health is an integrated health system that serves the communities of central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. The organization includes a clinically integrated network of approximately 2,600 physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs), including more than 1,600 employed physicians and APPs; a regional behavioral health organization; a home care organization; eight respected hospitals; approximately 20,000 employees; and more than 200 patient care locations. WellSpan is a charitable, mission-driven organization, committed to exceptional care for all, lifelong wellness and healthy communities. Visit WellSpan.org.

Gettysburg Hospital Pediatric Nurse Alison Arrowood wins Nightingale Award

Click here to see Arrowood’s introduction at the awards ceremony. Along with two other winners from across the state, Gettysburg resident Alison Arrowood, RN, Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse, EMT Paramedic, and Nursing Operations Director at WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital, was announced at a virtual gala on Oct. 22 as the Nightingale Award winner in the Nursing Administration – Executive category. Arrowood oversees the emergency department at the hospital. She was hailed as a “visionary leader with a persistent focus on the mission of excellence in patient and family care.” Arrowood led many important changes during the initial COVID crisis at the hospital. She is the mother of two children, a grandmother, and tends a small goat farm in her spare time. “These nurses have demonstrated a commitment to their patients and fellow staff,” said Kris O’Shea, senior vice president and chief nursing executive. “We are proud of all three of our nurses who were named finalists.” The Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania is a statewide, philanthropic organization that aims to create, cultivate, and support environments where professional nursing achievements are valued. Nightingale’s volunteer board and committees utilize gifts, donations, and annual gala proceeds to recognize excellence in a wide variety of nursing career paths, and financially contributes to the continuing education of nurses throughout Pennsylvania.

Gov. Wolf: Pennsylvania is Ready for Federal Authorization of COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today issued a statement on the Biden Administration’s preparations for the COVID-19 vaccine authorization for children ages 5-11. “In Pennsylvania, the vaccine is our strategy out of the pandemic, and Pennsylvanians are doing a tremendous job of protecting ourselves and our loved ones by getting the COVID-19 vaccine. We should all be proud of how far we have come since the beginning of the pandemic as another milestone is upon us – the vaccine authorization for children ages 5-11.  “Today, the Biden Administration released their plan to operationalize vaccination efforts for our children upon authorization. This plan furthers their support to states and confirms their commitment to ensuring this rollout is done properly. We are ready in Pennsylvania. Vaccine providers are prepared to safely vaccinate our children, and to protect them against this deadly virus.  “The light at the end of the tunnel is shining brightly and we are all ready to be on the other side.” As of October 20, 70.8% of Pennsylvanians 18 and older are now fully vaccinated, and vaccine providers have administered more than 13,400,000 total vaccine doses. Pennsylvania is ranked 6th for first doses administered nationwide. To find a local vaccine provider near you, visit vaccines.gov.

Finding Balance With Social Media

View the documentary anytime beginning Friday, October 29th at 8 p.m. until Saturday, November 6th at 12 a.m. October 13th, 2021 – LIKE achieves the impossible: actually getting kids and teens to put down their phones for a few minutes. From Friday October 29th to November 6th Healthy Adams County will hold a special virtual screening of the documentary.  Please click on the following link to register for the movie https://watch.eventive.org/indieflix/play/6153a5ed12cdfa003e63491c This take-action, inspiring film is the 2nd installment in the award-winning iNDIEFLIX Mental Health Trilogy, created to entertain, engage, and enlighten about issues surrounding mental health. Before Covid, 2 billion smartphone owners were checking their phones, on average, 150 times a day, and the enforced isolation and mandated screen time of the past year has only increased this figure. Research continues to confirm that having your head down, staring at the screen, chasing “likes” and seeking “followers” is the perfect recipe for low self-esteem, isolation and depression, as well as loss of focus and patience.  The filmmakers of LIKE inspire kids and teens to consider a life of JOMO (joy of missing out) as opposed to FOMO. They use their proven 4 E formula: entertainment, empathy, enlightenment and a heavy dose of empowerment, arming their audiences with easy-to-execute strategies to change their habits that very same day. Research and data is plentiful: happiness surges when we have digital balance, not overload; when we give ourselves time to look at actual trees, animals and all things nature, as well as interact – however we can – with other humans.  LIKE was ahead of the Social Dilemma curve in shocking its audience with its exclusive interviews from Silicon Valley insiders – including the co-creator of Facebook’s “Like” button – who break down the addiction-causing algorithms behind the apps. The medical and science experts explain the behavioral changes that come from chemical effects on the brain. But the 49-minute-long LIKE does not leave you with a sense of fear and foreboding. The core of the documentary is built around the kids and teens interviewed, and the empathy that they buildwith their audience as they look honestly at their usage and dependence on these tiny devices, consider the good that can come from and be transmitted via social media, and rethink the relationship to one where they are much more aware and in balance. Finally, a funny and engaging dancing panda meme at the end of the film perfectly illustrates the very sad rabbit holes our phones are sending us down, preventing us from looking up and seeing the world.  ‘‘For this particular film, the prestigious awards and reviews we’ve received are NOT the measure of success. It’s the direct feedback the kids & teens…. they are experimenting with our tricks on how to use their smartphones INSTEAD of their smartphones using them… and winning.’ said Scilla Andreen, CEO and Co-Founder of IndieFlix and Director/Executive Producer of LIKE. ‘Through shocking kids and adults alike with the behind-the-scenes look at their favorite apps and making them laugh, we’ve been able to engage them enough to consider taking the road back to ‘real’ instead of ‘virtual’ life, by working towards self-regulation and a healthy relationship with their phones.”  As with all iNDIEFLIX films, screenings take place in (now virtual) community settings, usually followed by community discussion and Q&A. This peer-group conversation is a critical element to getting young and old to reflect on what they’ve just learned, and the changes that they’ll make as a result.  LIKE, and its Mental Health Trilogy Companions Angst and The Upstanders are staples in social & emotional learning programs in schools all over the world. Knowing that successful change depends on continuing the conversation beyond the screening date, each film comes with discussion guides, tip sheets a catalogue of additional resources, with a dedicated 8-week curricula for each film launching in 2021.  iNDIEFLIX Group Inc is a global education and streaming service that promotes and supports social impact films that create positive change in the world. iNDIEFLIX Education books online and offline community screenings in schools and corporations around the world, while iNDIEFLIX Stream offers a monthly subscription-based service to access thousands of high-quality shorts, features, documentaries, and series from around the world. https://www.indieflix.com/

Adams Commissioners approve vaccine incentive and violence-awareness proclamations

On a split vote the Adams County Commissioners voted to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the county and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, District Council 89, (AFSMCE) regarding the County’s COVID-19 Vaccine Incentive. The incentive states in part that “in an effort to reduce the public health risk of disease while maintaining respect for individual choice [the county] will extend to all employees within the AFSCME bargaining unit who provide the county with proof of full COVID-19 vaccination status one (1) extra paid time-off day.” Commissioners Phiel and Qually voted to approve the MOU, but Commissioner Martin voted against it.  Qually passionately promoted the motion, saying “We have 200 people who have died. This is a voluntary incentive program. We all know someone that is high risk. My wife is high risk. I don’t know what I would do if I brought this home and killed my wife.” Phiel said “Our Paramount responsibility is to help the welfare and safety of our residents. I agree that this is showing leadership, this is not a mandate. This is a step to enhance public safety without mandating.” Martin said he thought the vaccine could cause adverse reactions in those that have natural immunity before voting against it. The commissioners also proclaimed October 17 to 23, 2021 as the “YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County Week without Violence”. This week is designed to bring awareness to physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse against women. According to the proclamation, one in four women experience domestic violence, more than three women are murdered each day by their current or former partner across the country, every 90 seconds another American is sexually assaulted, and immigrant women, women of Color, women with disabilities, and LGBTQ communities face heightened risk of violence and greater barriers to legal remedies. The YWCA has advocated for this week for over 20 years. The commissioners also joined with a long-standing national violence awareness movement by proclaiming August the “YWCA Hanover Safe Home – Adams County Domestic Violence Awareness Month.” The proclamation states in part that “We, the Commissioners of Adams County…are calling on our citizens, churches, human services organizations, schools, and businesses to educate themselves and others, and to become involved in efforts to prevent and respond to domestic violence in our community.”  Other Approved Recommendations: Court Administration-$15.00 per report for mandated credit checks for law enforcement officers to KlinkCheck Background Services. Children & Youth Services Purchase of Service Agreement with Pressley Ridge and Alternative Rehabilitation Communities.  Business Associate Agreement with Community Specialist Corporation and Summit School. Agricultural Land Preservation: $220,440.87 for 110.83 acres for county only conservation easement for Wayne Mummert, 693 Peepytown Road East Berlin PA. Tax Services: Six personal tax exemption requests approved Two Veterans Real Property Tax Exemptions approved. $1,059.00 with Print-O-Stat Inc. full service maintenance for one year Human Resources- $2,016.00 for 3 year term for online training courses on Bloodborne Pathogens, Hazardous Materials, Proper Lifting Techniques and Slips, Trips, and Falls. Adams County Adult Correctional Complex: decrease the calling rate charged to inmates from $0.24 cents a minute to $0.21 cents per minute. Commissioner’s Office: The Adams County Water Tower Repainting Contract is held with Corrosion Control Corporation as a result of being the lowest bidder.

Community Forum – dialogue with medical experts on COVID and Children and Adolescents

 A virtual community forum will be hosted by Family First Health on Tuesday, October 6th at 6:30pm. The Forum will focus on “A Provider Conversation and Community Q&A about COVID-19’s Impact on Children”. Family First Health invites anyone to participate via Facebook or Youtube to have a dialogue between medical experts about the impact of COVID-19 on children and adolescents. This session will feature Dr. Oluwatomi Uwazota, a Family Practice Physician at Family First Health, and Dr. Almira Contractor, a Pediatrician at WellSpan Community Health Center. After a brief presentation and provider conversation, the providers will spend the majority of the session answering live questions from the community, in real-time. Join on Facebook or Youtube: @FamilyFirstHealth | FamilyFirstHealthPA