Fulton Bank is investing $1 million to help minority and women-owned businesses grow.
Fulton, a subsidiary of Fulton Financial Corp., invested the funds in Innovate Capital Growth Fund, L.P., which provides capital and operational expertise to minority- and women-owned businesses.
The investment is part of Fulton Bank’s Commercial Affinity Banking initiative, which is designed to increase access to financial services for diverse businesses, the bank said.
“Fulton Bank’s investment will advance our mission of connecting institutions with minority businesses, unlocking the potential for future growth,” said Innovate Capital Growth Fund Partner Della Clark. “There are more than 3,200 minority-owned and 8,800 women-owned businesses in our target market in the Mid-Atlantic region and providing them with equity capital represents a significant opportunity to contribute to overall economic growth.”
Based in Philadelphia, Innovate Capital Growth Fund is a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) focused on providing equity investments in women- and minority-owned lower middle market firms in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Innovate Capital Growth Fund said it typically works with businesses with annual revenues of approximately $2 million to $10 million from a range of industries, including manufacturing, consumer products, technology, and healthcare services.
“Fulton Bank is committed to ensuring that businesses in the communities we serve have access to the capital and banking services that will empower them to grow and thrive,” said Curtis Myers, chairman and CEO of Fulton Financial Corp. “We are excited about the opportunity to invest in Innovate Capital Growth Fund, which is focused on supporting diverse businesses.”
Senior Vice President and Director of Commercial Affinity Banking Joel Barnett said, “This investment in Innovate Capital Growth Fund is part of Fulton Bank’s Commercial Affinity Banking Program. As part of that program, we are creating a suite of commercial banking solutions which includes access to capital and deposits and payments. Fulton bankers are undergoing training on these new programs and resources to develop expertise in assisting diverse businesses.”
UGI Electric Division (IUGI Electric) is seeking to raise base rates for electric distribution by $11.4 million annually, increasing the average rate for residential customers by 8.9%, commercial customers by 10.8% and industrial customers by less than 1%.
The Denver-based company filed a request with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Friday saying the rate increase would fund ongoing system improvements and certain information technology investments necessary to support customer service activities and maintain safe and reliable electric service.
“UGI Electric is working hard to manage costs and improve system performance while continuing our commitment to safely and reliably deliver electricity to our customers and the many communities we serve,” Eric Sorber, vice president and general manager- UGI Electric Division, said.
Sorber noted that since its last base rate case in 2021, UGI Electric has made and continues to make system investments to improve the quality and reliability of service to the company’s customers. These include construction of a new substation and upgrading of UGI’s Outage Management System.
“Adding anticipated investments included in this base rate increase request, UGI Electric will have invested nearly $70.5 million in the distribution system since the last time UGI Electric filed a base rate case,” Sorber said.
The investments include accelerated repair, replacement or improvement of aged and aging distribution infrastructure on its system and the ongoing upgrade of UGI Information Technology systems.
UGI Electric’s base rate increase request will impact only the delivery charge component of customers’ electric bills. The delivery charge, which this proposal would increase for certain customers, provides a utility with the funds needed to own, operate and maintain the electric distribution system and provide customer service and emergency response services.
If approved, the total bill for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month and receiving default power supply service from the company would increase from $192.73 to $209.96 per month or by 8.9%.
The total bill for a commercial customer using 1,000 kWh per month would increase from $199.06 to $220.49 per month or by 10.8% and an industrial customer using 50,000 kWh per month would increase from $6,455.07 to $6,475.18 per month or by 0.3 percent.
UGI Electric is requesting that the new electric rates take effect March 28, 2023. However, the PUC typically suspends the effective date for general base rate proceedings to allow for investigation and public hearings. The PUC proceeding is expected to last approximately nine months, which would delay the implementation of the new rates until fall 2023.
Small employers who start new employee retirement plans under Secure Act 2.0 passed by Congress at the end of the year will find themselves faced with more paperwork for their efforts.
Deborah Lander, senior retirement plan advisor with Lancaster-based RKL Wealth Management, said the extra paperwork will come from the provision that will require automatic enrollment in plans starting in 2025.
Secure Act 2.0 states employers with more than 10 workers that start new 401(k) plans after the new law takes effect beginning with the plan years in 2025 will be required to automatically enroll employees and have them set aside 3% to 10% of their earnings every year. Those employees who don’t want to participate would have to opt out.
“Some employers don’t like automatic enrollment. It can be more paperwork and if an employee doesn’t understand and sees money being taken out of the paycheck, it can cause issues,” Lander said.
However, to encourage employers to set up these plans, there will be a 100% tax credit for employers, giving them up to $5,000 for the costs of starting a plan, with a $1,000 per employee cap.
“Payroll systems may have to change,” Lander said, to ensure contributions are handled correctly. “We’ll have to see how this plays out.”
Overall, Lander said the act is a good incentive to encourage retirement savings.
Her colleague William Onorato, RKL’s Family Office Practice Leader, agreed, saying the act, which picks up on Secure Act 1.0 passed in December 2019, will “encourage broader participation in retirement savings by making accounts more user friendly.”
The biggest area of change Onorato sees is the increased age for mandatory distributions. Prior to the changes, people were required to take money out of their retirement accounts at age 70 1/2. Secure Act 1.0 changed that to age 72 and the new provisions increased it to 73 beginning in 2023 and to 75 in 2033. However, anyone who has already started drawing on an account will have to continue to do so.
“In reality, this is not significant,” he said.
He explained that most people who retire by age 70 will draw on their retirement accounts anyway. The biggest benefit, he said, will be for those higher income earners who can let assets grow tax deferred longer.
“But even for higher income earners, from an income tax perspective, it may be better to take money earlier to spread the tax burden out over a longer number of years.”
That is because most retirement accounts are tax deferred. Only Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k) plans are post tax, he said.
“For most people, this will not have a huge impact,” he said noting the House version passed in 2022 by 414-5 votes, showing there was not a lot of controversial stuff in it. “The changes are nice, but the impact will be modest.”
Lander said one provision she sees as a real benefit is the Emergency Savings provisions that can be used for emergencies.
Starting in 2024, Secure Act 2.0 allows emergency withdrawal of up to $1,000 from a company retirement plan or IRA without the standard 10% early penalty of pre-tax money. The second allows creation of an emergency savings account linked to 401(k) plans. Workers could set aside up to $2,500 and their employer may set up to have a 3% automatic enrollment of their salary in these plans with Roth after-tax dollars having a cap of up to $2,500. In an emergency, they could withdraw money tax-free and without paying the standard 10% penalty for money taken out before age 59 1/2.
“The Roth emergency savings is more like a savings account instead of a retirement account. It looks like employees can take this yearly. We’ll have to see as more information comes out,” Landers said, adding it would be a great incentive for people who don’t feel like they have the money to contribute to retirement because they don’t have enough emergency savings.
For younger workers, the provision that allows for employer contributions to be made into Roth accounts can be beneficial, she said.
“Employer contributions were pretax in the past, meaning the taxes had to be paid upon withdrawal. Now, employees can choose all Roth and pay taxes now and let the money grow without worrying what the tax rate will be later,” Lander said.
Another plus for younger employees, Onorato said, is the provision that allows employers to match 401(k) contributions to student loan debt.
“Young workers with student loan debt can’t save for retirement,” he said. Employers who opt to match that debt with contributions can help employees start saving.
“It’s not required so we’ll see how many employers will do this,” Onorato said.
Both agreed the new provisions are extensive and span several years. While both think the new rules are beneficial, they said time will tell how impactful they are.
Eight farms in the Lehigh Valley and Berks County are among 30 farms in 18 counties protected from development Thursday.
Pennsylvania invested more than $8.9 million in state, county, local and nonprofit dollars to protect the land from future residential or commercial development. The state ends 2022 continuing to lead the nation, having protected 170 farms and 13,069 acres this year.
“Protecting prime farmland from development is one of the most important investments we make in our economy, our environment, and our quality of life,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “These farm families, together with every level of government, are investing in guarding their legacies and ensuring that other Pennsylvania families will have food, green spaces, income and jobs in the future.”
The State Agricultural Land Preservation Board highlighted Sutliff Farms in Northampton County noting it is the second farm preserved by the family and creates a cluster of nine protected farms in the county, which faces pressure from developers because of its prime location close to major markets and transportation.
Local farms preserved and dollars invested, by county include:
Berks County –Total investment – $465,060, state – $444,017, county -$21,043
The Robert C. Berger Farm, Upper Bern Township, a 26-acre crop & livestock farm
The Shirley K. and Paul B. Levan, Jr. Farm, Tilden Township, a 59-acre crop and livestock farm
The Mark A. and Tracey L. Snyder Farm, Penn Township, a 35-acre crop farm
The Jeffrey A. and Kathleen A. Updegrove and Oley Township Farm, a 40-acre crop farm
Lehigh County – Total investment – $572,961, state – $412,024, county – $160,937
The Patricia A. Husted Farm, Upper Saucon Township, a 31-acre horse farm
The Gregory Geiger and John Stewart Farm, Weisenberg Township, a 53-acre crop farm
The Kevin L. Smith #6 Farm, Heidelberg Township, a 24-acre crop farm
Northampton County –Total investment – $201,879, state only
Sutliff Farms #2, East Allen Township, a 33-acre crop and livestock farm
By selling their land’s development rights, landowners ensure that their farms will remain farms and never be sold to developers. Farm families often sell their land at below market value, donate additional land, or agree to conservation practices on their farms in order to leverage additional federal and state money to preserve more family farms, the Wolf administration said.
Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program recently secured a $7.85 million grant from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program to support climate-smart conservation on preserved Pennsylvania farms.
The dollars will further multiply Wolf administration investments in conservation in the 2022-’23 budget, which devotes $220 million to the new Clean Streams Fund. The fund includes $154 million to establish a new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program supporting farmers’ efforts to reduce water pollution and improve soil quality, and $22 million to increase funding for the existing Nutrient Management Fund, which supports technical assistance to farms to reduce run-off, the administration said.
Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County-based Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association elected Rod Martin, Mark Carroll and Dan Schaffer board members and Mike Hawbaker a nonvoting board member. Martin is with Colebrookdale Township, Berks County-based Martin Stone Quarries Inc. Carroll is with Worcester, Montgomery County-based Allan Myers. Schaffer is with Lehigh Cement Co., which has locations in Berks, Bucks and Northampton counties. Hawbaker is with Hazle Township, Luzerne County-based Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc.
Banking and finance
Wormleysburg, Cumberland County-based Stonebridge Financial Group LLP named Jim Foote a senior corporate retirement plan specialist. Foote, a chartered retirement plan specialist, will work with clients in the greater Philadelphia area.
Pittsburgh-based First National Bank named Larry Bardo senior vice president and commercial banker. He will be based in Reading, Berks County, and be responsible for lending, business development, relationship management and portfolio management for commercial clients in the Capital Region, which includes 10 Central Pennsylvania counties.
PB Bankshares Inc., the holding company for Coatesville, Chester County-based Presence Bank, named Bony Dawood a board member. Dawood is a professional engineer and president of Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County-based Dawood.
West Rockhill Township, Bucks County-based Grand View Hospital named Robert Loughery chair of the board of directors. Robert Pritchard was named vice chair, Blair Rush was named treasurer, and Judith Ott was named secretary. Loughery is a real estate investor and developer and president of Nehemiah Development Co. Inc. Pritchard is a certified public accountant.
West Rockhill Township, Bucks County-based Grand View Health Foundation named Tricia Brown O’Hara chair. Sandy Alderfer was named vice chairman and chairman of the This Is Us Together capital campaign. O’Hara is a registered nurse, professor of nursing and assistant dean for undergraduate students for the Frances Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions at Gwynedd Mercy University.
Bethlehem, Northampton County-based The Wilbur Mansion named Jon McCain executive chef. He will create and oversee the seasonal menu of local ingredients and produce.
Upper Macungie Township, Lehigh County-based Liquid named Bob Stevens director of strategy.
Allentown, Lehigh County-based Easterseals Eastern Pennsylvania named Jason Raines, Michael Zalot and Jane Amato board members. Raines is the principal of Raines Consulting Group LLC, operational excellence manager at HNL Lab Medicine and adjunct professor at Cedar Crest College. Zalot is director of graduate programs and assistant professor of business at Cedar Crest College. Zalot will focus on developing stronger partnerships with academia. Amato is vice president of commercial lending at Peoples Security Bank & Trust.
South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County-based Howard Hanna The Frederick Group named Brooke Mareni and Brian Segel real estate agents. Mareni is a Realtor and will assist with buying and selling homes or land. Segel is a Realtor, certified residential specialist and accredited buyer’s representative.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, Realtors® named Samantha Fedele a sales associate in the Macungie office. Fedele will focus on the Lehigh Valley.
Grace Montessori School received $22,000 it will use for its Closing the Achievement Gap program to help low-income children escape poverty.
The Allentown school said the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) funds came from three local organizations.
Bridge Educational Foundation provided $2,000, made possible through a donation from JL Mann Consulting. Commonwealth Charitable Management provided $10,000 donated by Coterra Energy and Bravo Foundation provided $10,000 from Penrac LLC, doing business as Enterprise-Rent-A-Car.
State Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh County, coordinated the funding, the school said.
Grace Montessori School’s Closing the Achievement Gap Program, which serves children ages 12 months to 12 years, will use the funds for scholarships to help low-income children escape poverty by providing high-quality education.
The scholarships assist families needing financial aid to achieve school readiness and a foundation for their child’s lifelong learning. This school year, Grace Montessori School expects to serve 36 scholarship students, the school said.
During the 2021-2022 school year, 34 students received scholarships and reduced tuition, amounting to $79,077.
The EITC program provides educational tax credits for businesses in the commonwealth to support public, private, and preschool programs. It was signed into law by Gov. Tom Ridge in 2001, connecting employers with students for over two decades to improve educational opportunities for low-income families.
Small businesses that market agricultural products directly to consumers can earn cash and recognition at this year’s farm show.
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding invited the businesses to enter their websites, marketing brochures and social media in the new PA Farm Show Agriculture Marketing Contest.
“This year’s PA Farm Show theme, Rooted in Progress, invites you to meet the national leaders and innovators in Pennsylvania agriculture today and explore our $132.5 billion industry, our heritage, and roots of our success,” Redding said. “Direct farm sales are one of many areas where Pennsylvania ag producers shine. This is your chance to show what makes your business part of Pennsylvania’s success.”
Entry deadline for the new contest is Dec. 1, 2022. Details and complete competition rules are on the Farm Show website under Department 36 – Agriculture Marketing.
The PA Farm Show, which runs Jan. 7-14 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg, is the nation’s largest indoor agricultural event and Pennsylvania State Fair.
Hundreds of individual competitions during the eight-day show feature winners who qualify by winning an event at one of Pennsylvania’s 108 local and county fairs to compete for the state title.
Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg will receive $1 million in state funding to replace imaging equipment.
Lehigh Valley Health Network said state Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, announced the funding Friday which will allow LVHN to purchase a new Medtronic O-Arm imaging device for use in minimally invasive spinal surgery. It replaces an older unit no longer in service.
Prior to surgery, the O-Arm takes a 360-degree scan of the spine, providing 3D images allowing the surgeon to have enhanced and precise visualization of a patient’s anatomy, the network said. This gives a surgeon the most accurate anatomical road map possible for the precision insertion of medical hardware such as screws and rods.
“Funding like this allows us to spread resources even further in all areas of care,” said Dr. Brian Nester, president and CEO, LVHN. “We appreciate the support of Sen. Browne and the commonwealth for leading-edge technology that supports the great work of doctors, nurses and other health professionals across the state.”
“We are fortunate to have outstanding health care partners, like Lehigh Valley Health Network, in our region,” Browne said. “This project is a prime example of LVHN’s dedication to remaining on the leading edge of medical technology, which has translated into better outcomes for the patients they care for. I am proud to support their efforts in advancing the care options available to our residents.”
LVHN surgeons performed more than 2,000 spinal surgeries last fiscal year across the health network, including nearly 1,200 at LVH–Muhlenberg and LVH–Cedar Crest, where O-Arm units are located. “O-Arm imaging is an essential part of our success and great patient outcomes,” Nester said.
Lehigh Valley has seen a growth in medical services this year with new hospitals, the expansion of emergency rooms, and walk-in clinics.
The health care companies said the expansions are to improve patient access and provide convenient service.
Lehigh Valley Health Network opened Lehigh Valley Hospital-Dickson City in Lackawanna County in May.
The campus on Main Street includes a 100,000-square-foot state-of-the-art hospital and a previously opened Health Center. The hospital has seven operating rooms and two procedure rooms, a 19-bay emergency room, a helipad and 24 private inpatient rooms, the hospital said.
“This campus will be an indispensable part of the community, healing its residents and helping them live their best lives,” said Dr. Michael Rossi, LVHN executive vice president and chief clinical officer. “Great health care is part of what makes a community special.”
LVHN also completed the third phase of Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hecktown Oaks in Lower Nazareth Township, Northampton County, in June.
The expansion includes an intensive care unit (ICU) for patients over 18, which opened in July and a Healing Garden.
The intensive care unit includes eight ICU beds and 12 progressive beds that allow physicians to triage patients before moving them. The ICU beds are in private rooms with bathrooms.
“The health and safety of our community was at the forefront of the design of the ICU at LVH–Hecktown Oaks,” said Dr. David Burmeister, LVHN’s chair of Emergency and Hospital Medicine.
Also in June, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital hoisted the final steel beam on its new hospital in Center Valley across from The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley. The hospital is slated to open in June 2023.
The four-story, 76-private-room rehabilitation hospital will focus on providing advanced inpatient rehabilitation services to people seeking care for stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury and other complex conditions, the hospital said.
The current facility in South Allentown will be used for outpatient and support services once the new hospital opens, Good Shepherd said.
And St. Luke’s University Health Network broke ground in August on its new four-story, 165,000-square-foot patient care building at its Monroe Campus, just off Route 611 in Stroudsburg.
“With the construction of the patient care tower, St. Luke’s is meeting the strong and growing demand for our nationally recognized healthcare services and keeping them close to home,” said Don Seiple, president of St. Luke’s Monroe Campus. “Our investment in growth is fueled by the trust the residents of Monroe County have in our providers. It will also allow us to meet the projected demand for our expert care in the future.”
The addition will double the size of the existing hospital. The new patient care tower, which is expected to open in early 2024 will house a general medical-surgical unit with 36 beds, additional operating and procedure space, expanded outpatient programs and a state-of-the-art interventional radiology suite as well as shell space for future development.
St. Luke’s also opened a new emergency room at its Anderson Campus in September to meet growing demand.
SLUHN said the hospital just off Route 33 at 1872 St. Luke’s Boulevard in Bethlehem Township, Northampton Conty, is a Level II trauma center and has increased capacity from 31 to 45 beds.
The expansive three-bed state-of-the-art trauma bay has dedicated radiology services, including an integrated built-in x-ray arm that extends over all three bays and is adjacent to the GE CT scanner, decreasing the time needed for testing, diagnostics and results.
St. Luke’s Anderson’s Emergency Department has seen an increase in patients due to changes in the healthcare landscape, a hospital spokesman said. Individuals who delayed care during the pandemic are now experiencing complications from serious chronic conditions.
“This enhanced and enlarged emergency department will allow us to accommodate the robust patient volume we experience at St. Luke’s Anderson in a much more efficient manner,” said John B. Wilson, chief of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke’s Anderson Campus. “Due to overwhelming demand, the original emergency department quickly outgrew its space, so additional beds were added in 2013. Now we have moved into an even larger, brand-new space to continue meeting that demand.”
SLUHN also opened an expanded emergency room in August at its hospital at Hamilton and 17th streets in Allentown.
The renovations include a relocated ER entrance to improve patient access and the addition of a new waiting area and treatment areas.
“In keeping with St. Luke’s mission of treating our patients as our first priority, this (entrance) location will make access easier for those who are coming from the parking deck to find either the ER or main hospital entrance,” said Bill Moyer, president of St. Luke’s Allentown Campus. The ambulance entrance will remain on the hospital’s north side.
Geisinger St. Luke’s will enter the Pottsville market with the opening of a primary care facility at 2650 Woodglen Road, West Pottsville Oct 24.
The Geisinger St. Luke’s Health Center-Pottsville, a single-story 21,000-square-foot building, formerly the McCann School of Business and Technology, has primary care, physical therapy and diagnostic services.
“On behalf of the board, management, physicians and staff of GSL, we are honored and pleased to be able to provide Pottsville residents access to the high-quality, award-winning care for which our organization is well known,” said Gabe Kamarousky, president of Geisinger St. Luke’s Campus.
In February, LVHN formed the Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute to enhance its current bone and joint care.
“Letting the future come to us isn’t an option,” said LVHN president and CEO Brian Nester. “The creation of Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute allows us to shape the future of orthopedic care in northeastern Pennsylvania, to innovate on a level that provides unparalleled depth and breadth in high-quality care delivery, research and patient experience across the entire musculoskeletal spectrum. That’s a big plus for the communities we serve.”
The Orthopedic Institute’s creation is a natural extension of an organization that combines the strengths of Coordinated Health, which LVHN acquired in 2019, and Lehigh Valley Health Network as the region’s leading orthopedic service provider, LVHN said.
Coordinated Health orthopedic practices are now part of Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute.
St. Luke’s also opened its first walk-in mental health clinic at 211 N. 12th St., Lehighton in June; its Women & Children’s Center, 555 Delaware Ave, Palmerton, in May; and its Care Now, 120 Pine St., Tamaqua in May.
LVHN opened a new health center on West Seventh Street, Pennsburg, Montgomery County in March.
And HNL Lab Medicine opened several new sites this year including patient service centers at Mt. Bethel Plaza, 2165 Mount Bethel Highway, Northampton County; 4098 Bath Pike (Route 512), Suite 102 in Bethlehem, Northampton County; and Lehigh Valley Health Network Health Center in Pennsburg, Montgomery County.
“HNL remains committed to the health and well-being of residents in and around the Lehigh Valley, and we continue to expand patient access to laboratory testing in the region,” said Jessica Bargilione, director of marketing for HNL Lab Medicine.
HNL Lab Medicine also moved its patient service center from Kutztown to the Maxatawny Marketplace shopping mall in October to increase patient access, it said.
Pennsylvania hospitals, while facing financial challenges in the post-pandemic world, still support one in 10 jobs and contribute a fifth of the state’s gross domestic product.
Andy Carter, president and CEO of Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) said Tuesday that a report conducted by HAP shows hospitals are facing financial stress due to increased costs of supplies and labor while facing stagnant payments from insurers, Medicare and Medicaid and stock market losses.
“Hospitals are critical to the health and future of Pennsylvania communities, both because of the essential care they provide and their role as job creators and economic engines,” Carter said. “Hospitals support family-sustaining jobs throughout all parts of the commonwealth and are often among—if not the—top employers and economic flagships in their communities.”
HAP’s analysis of fiscal year (FY) 2021 data reveals that Pennsylvania hospitals—both directly and through the ripple effects of their economic activity—benefitted their communities and the commonwealth by:
Contributing $168 billion to the state and local economies
Supporting 590,000 jobs throughout the entire commonwealth
Generating $38 billion in wages, salaries, and benefits
The analysis also highlights the strain hospitals are experiencing due to rising expenses, the continued COVID-19 pandemic, a historic workforce shortage, and a national behavioral health crisis and calls attention to the need for investments and policies to support hospitals long-term sustainability.
“In the face of financial stress there is a risk to access to health care,” Carter said. Since 2020, five hospitals have closed and others are facing cutbacks in services to keep the overall operation solvent, he said.
“No one has lived through a pandemic, economic turmoil from the pandemic, and international turmoil that we are seeing today,” Carter said. “Communities are proud of their hospitals and broadly speaking, most are not at risk of closure.”
That said, Carter emphasized that hospitals want to continue to reflect the quality of services offered before COVID-19 and not become a shadow of their former selves.
However, he said, the increased cost of labor, mainly due to a shortage of nurses and nursing support staff; supply cost increases from gauze to high tech equipment; and pharmaceutical increases, hospitals are feeling the squeeze.
Still they are vital to the communities they are in, he said.
Some of the key findings of the analysis include:
Pennsylvania hospital jobs pay, on average, nearly 6% higher than the statewide average wage for all sectors.
Hospitals rank fifth among all Pennsylvania industries for employment and fourth for total annual wages.
59 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have at least one hospital among their top 10 employers and in 18 of them, a hospital is the largest employer.
Hospitals are among the top 10 industries directly contributing to Pennsylvania’s economy, ranked ninth between construction and management of companies and enterprises.
Hospitals and universities with hospital-affiliated medical schools secured nearly $1.8 billion in highly competitive federal research funding to advance health care innovation.
Pennsylvania general acute care hospitals reported $866 million in foregone revenue due to uncompensated care.
According to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, Carter said, 30% of the state’s hospitals reported losing money in 2021 and 15% reported modest earnings. No one, he said, invested in modernization and new offerings.
“There is no single answer to this,” Carter said, but “we have a range of ideas.”
Changes to Medicare and Medicaid payments are vital. Carter said the government needs to increase those payments, or at least stop the cuts. There was a 2% decrease in July. “Hospitals did get a one-time support from the federal government through American Rescue Plan money,” he said.
HAP has requested money from the state’s pandemic funds as well to offset the losses due to COVID, Carter said.
“We also need to improve the workforce,” he said. “We need to increase the numbers going into the pipeline. While this won’t have an immediate impact, it will help three to five years down the line.”
Carter explained that with the nursing shortage, hospitals are turning to temp agencies to hire nurses from across the country or internationally. That comes with a cost, he said.
A survey of HAP members last winter showed that since 2019:
Hourly rates paid to staffing agencies for registered nurses providing direct patient care in medical/surgical and other units have increased by 108% from $59 per hour to $123 per hour while the average number of shifts per day worked by temporary staff increased from five to eleven
Hourly rates paid to staffing agencies for registered nurses providing direct patient care in specialty units have increased by 82% from $66 per hour to $120 per hour while the average number of shifts per day worked by temporary staff increased from four to nine
Hourly rates paid to staffing agencies for nursing support staff (such as certified nurse assistants, patient care assistants, and nurse assistants) have increased by 444% from $9 per hour to $49 per hour while the average number of shifts per day worked by temporary nursing support staff increased from three to five
“Some of this need is abating as some health care workers are returning to the field,” he said.
Another area of concern is telehealth, Carter said. “We need to cut the red tape and make sure providers are paid for telehealth services.”
Carter explained that due to the pandemic, restrictions were lifted for telehealth. Now they are at risk of expiring. But more than that, he said, providers need to be paid for telehealth services, which is not always the case.
The importance of telehealth, he said, is that it makes care easily assessable and helps with staffing issues.
Finally, Carter said payments from insurers and Medicare and Medicaid payments must increase to match what hospitals pay to treat patients.
“We are calling on lawmakers and insurers to step up and join hands so as not to put hospitals at risk,” Carter said.
The state Department of Agriculture Thursday said nearly $7.5 million was invested in protecting 24 farms from future development.
The money from state, county, local governments protected 2,046 acres from commercial, industrial or residential development. The acquisition brings the total protected land to 616,713 acres on more than 6,100 farms.
The newly preserved farms are in Berks, Bucks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Wyoming and York counties.
“Every dollar spent protecting prime farmland from development is an investment in our economy, our environment, our quality of life, and our ability to feed Pennsylvania’s families and economy,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Preserving land resources is one of the most important investments we make together, across every level of government, hand in hand with farm families investing to guard their legacy of daily hard work and sacrifice to feed us all.”
Farm families often sell their land at below market value, donate additional land, or agree to conservation practices on their farms in order to leverage additional federal and state money to preserve more family farms, the Department of Agriculture said.
Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security and leading the nation in the number of preserved farms, the department said.
Notable farms preserved at Thursday’s PA Land Preservation Board meeting include:
John W. Marsteller Jr.’s York County crop farm is the third farm preserved by the family, bringing the family’s total protected land to more than 1,400 acres. Southern York County is experiencing intense residential development pressure as a bedroom community for Baltimore commuters.
Other farms preserved today and dollars invested by county include:
Berks County –Total investment – $923,414, state – $878,389, county – $45,025
The Mark B. Latshaw Farm, District Twp., a 180-acre crop farm
The David A. Yost Farm, Upper Tulpehocken Twp., a 122-acre crop farm
The Peter A. and LeAnne L. Zettlemoyer Farm, a 59-acre crop and livestock farm
Cumberland County –Total investment – $467,204, state – $9,347, county – $117,532, township – $340,325
The Thomas D. Moyer Farm #1, Silver Spring Twp., a 118-acre crop farm
Dauphin County –Total investment – $832,861, state only
Bechtel Farms, Halifax, a 123-acre crop farm
The Eli L. and Sadie M. King Farm, Mifflin Twp., a 93-acre crop and livestock farm
The John Neagley Farm, Washington Twp., a 165-acre crop farm
The Darryl Rode Farm, Halifax, a 62-acre crop farm
The Gerald F .and Linda K. Wiest Farm #2, Lykens, a 39-acre crop farm
Lancaster County –Total investment – $1,574,265, state only
The Benjamin Joel and Alisha Danae Nissley Farm, Mt. Joy, a 130-acre crop and livestock farm
The Fred L. and Connie L. Ranck Farm #1, Strasburg, a 33-acre crop farm
The Fred L. and Connie L. Ranck Farm #2, Strasburg, a 111-acre crop farm
The Matthew K. and Kelly L. Wiker Farm, Martic Twp., a 123-acre crop farm
Lehigh County – Total investment – $366,371, state – $356,371, county – $5,000, township – $5,000
The Michael G. and Karin M. Bowman Farm, Heidelberg Twp., a 26-acre crop farm
The Adam B. and Amanda L. Dietrich Farm, Lynn Twp., a 44-acre crop farm
Northampton County –Total investment – $466,534, state – $21,777, county – $227,100, township – $197,657
The Moore Township #5 Farm, a 43-acre crop farm
The Walter M. Jr. and Melody A. Schlegel Farm, Plainfield Twp., a 40-acre crop farm
York County – Total investment – $1,001,978, state – $775,583, county – $226,395
The Robert B. and Judy K. Burchett Farm #4, Chanceford Twp., a 104-acre crop farm
The Lydia M. Manifold Farm #2, East Hopewell Twp., an 84-acre crop farm
The John W. Marsteller, Jr. Farm #1, Hopewell Twp., a 149-acre crop farm
Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program recently secured a $7.85 million grant from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program to support climate-smart conservation on preserved Pennsylvania farms.
The dollars will further multiply the Wolf Administration’s investments in conservation in the 2022-’23 budget, which devotes $220 million to the new Clean Streams Fund. The fund includes $154 million to establish a new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program supporting farmers’ efforts to reduce water pollution and improve soil quality, and $22 million to increase funding for the existing Nutrient Management Fund, which supports technical assistance to farms to reduce run-off.
The Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors named Dr. Nguyet-Cam Vu Lam a member of its Program Director Wellness Task Force. The task force will explore options for providing wellness support to association members and recommend wellness initiatives to the board of directors. Lam is program director of Bethlehem Family Medicine residency at Fountain Hill, Lehigh County-based St. Luke’s University Health Network.
Banking and finance
Wyomissing, Berks County-based Marathon Business Group LLC & Marathon Advisory Services LLC named Jack A. Russell a financial analyst and office administrator. Russell will focus on financial analysis, market research and brand development
Warwick Township, Bucks County-based Middle Bucks Institute of Technology named Mark Covelle administrative director.
Hanover Township, Lehigh County-based HNL Lab Medicine named David M. Confalone vice president of finance. Confalone is a certified public accountant.
Stroud Township, Monroe County-based Frailey Insurance and Financial Services named Felicia M. Gwinn account manager for personal lines.
Norris McLaughlin P.A. named Rocco Beltrami an associate in the Allentown office. Beltrami will practice in the business law group and the real estate, zoning and land use group and will provide strategic counsel to clients on general business topics and a variety of real estate transactions. Alyssa Christian was named an associate in the business law group in Allentown. Christian counsels clients on general business issues.
Philadelphia-based Stevens & Lee named Julie Wagner Burkart a member of the real estate department, based in the Allentown office. She practices in land use and zoning law, contracts and leasing, landlord-tenant law, business formation and organization, estate planning and litigation.
Emmaus, Lehigh County-based Altitude Marketing named Grace Peoples social media coordinator. Peoples will manage social media and strategic direction for the company and its clients.
Hanover Township, Northampton County-based ASR Media Productions named Cíara Purcell a junior editor. Purcell will continue to strengthen her editing skills and support production of client projects.
Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania, with offices in Allentown, Lehigh County, and Wyomissing, Berks County, elected Sandra K. Green, Hope Johnson and Adrian Marsh board members. Green works with Kutztown University and the Kutztown Community Partnership. Johnson is vice president of perioperative and endoscopy services for Lehigh Valley Health Network. Marsh is global head of administrative finance at Olympus Corp.
Allentown, Lehigh County-based Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority named Matthew Malozi chair of its board of directors. Malozi, a board appointee of Lehigh County, is co-founder and president of Civitas Regio LLC. Mike Lichtenberger of Bethlehem was named vice chair. Lichtenberger, a board appointee of Northampton County, is group executive and chief operating officer of enTrust Payment Systems of Bethlehem.
South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County-based Howard Hanna The Frederick Group named Vitaliy Raskot a Realtor.
Compiled by contributing writer Amy DiNunzio
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.