New man at the tiller

Steve Massini became CEO of Penn State Health on July 1.

By Bill Landauer

Steve Massini’s vision has been an integral part of Penn State Health’s growth. His input helped create the partnerships and make the decisions that have shifted a central Pennsylvania hospital into a regional health system for a new age.

And at least some of Massini’s know-how comes from fish.

The new CEO of Penn State Health has spent much of his life enjoying fishing on the waters of southern New Jersey to the trout streams of rural Pennsylvania.

“Fishing is part of my family,” he said.

Maybe that’s why Massini’s management style is equally calm and reflective. He watches the waters, takes in the environment and acts at the right moment — all without panic.

View the video on Mediasite

His new role places him squarely at the center of a surge. The Penn State Health of which he takes the helm continues to expand at a pace few envisioned a decade ago. So far, his approach has been keeping with the style he learned from his early days as a mate on a charter fishing boat. He’s filled recent weeks listening and learning from all levels of the system’s expanding staff. As the health care industry evolves and Penn State Health evolves with it, Massini says he’ll continue to seek their counsel as he follows a path blazed by his predecessors.

Rather than blindly charting a course, Massini has arrived at his current job through patient, diligent attention to his surroundings and following his heart.

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July 10, 2019 at 12:41 pm Leave a comment

Spinal trauma patient views injury as just another steep hill to climb

Cody Wills finishes the 16 mile bike ride section for his relay team during the Got the Nerve? Triathlon.

By Bill Landauer

Spinal trauma never saw Cody Wills coming.

To Wills, life is one long and winding race track, complete with steep hills, hairpin turns and times to beat. So when he found out eight years ago at the age of 20 he’d spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, Wills shrugged.

After all, practically since he could crawl, Wills has lived for wheels.

So it’s no shock to find him at dawn on May 18 leading his Top End Force RX hand cycle through a crowd of friends and fans at the 16th annual Got the Nerve? Triathlon, flashing a toothy, crescent-moon grin. Just about everyone knows him.

“Hey Cody!”

“Cody!”

“What’s up, brother? Looking good!”

The Mount Gretna triathlon is one of two Penn State Health-sponsored events on this day geared to support adaptive athletes like Wills. An hour or so after his 16-mile hand-cycle race morning, Wills plans to load up into his Chevy Avalanche and drive to Middletown, where he’s expected at RecFest. On the campus of Penn State Harrisburg, vendors demonstrate sports like wheelchair rugby, basketball and diving.

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June 20, 2019 at 11:15 am Leave a comment

‘Amazing experience.’ Penn State Health physician leads medical team at 2019 Special Olympics World Games

Dr. Peter Seidenberg poses for a photo with two young men who are members of the Hungarian roller skating team. He is wearing a red vest with “Medic” on the right side. The player on the left is wearing a spandex suit with shorts. The player on the right is wearing a sweatshirt with “Hungary” on the front. Behind them are three players. One is sitting on a chair.

Dr. Peter Seidenberg pauses for a photo with two members of the Hungarian roller skating team after treating the athlete on the left for an injury.

By Jen Vogelsong

As team physician for Penn State’s football and softball teams, Dr. Peter Seidenberg is used to making on-the-spot medical calls – but none quite like the life-changing decisions he made as chief medical officer at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games last March.

“It was definitely an amazing experience,” said Seidenberg, a Penn State Health family and sports medicine physician in State College who has been lending his sports medicine expertise to Special Olympics for almost 20 years. In his latest post, he led a medical team responsible for more than half a million people, including 7,000 athletes from 194 countries, support staff, country delegations and spectators.

Seidenberg at the Special Olympics  (more…)

June 12, 2019 at 2:25 pm Leave a comment

And the beat goes on…heart transplant patients, surgeons reunite

Constance Murray, who underwent a heart transplant in 1986, is embraced by Dr. John Pennock, the surgeon who performed the surgery. She is wearing a blazer and top and has her eyes closed. Dr. Pennock is wearing glasses and a suit and tie. Behind them two women stand at a table with a sign “Save Lives” on it.
Constance Murray, who underwent a heart transplant in 1986, is embraced by Dr. John Pennock, the surgeon who performed the surgery, at Hershey Medical Center’s annual heart transplant reunion.

By Carolyn Kimmel

To Constance Murray, heart transplantation sounded like something out of science fiction movie – one she certainly didn’t care to star in.

It was 1986, and Murray had struggled for more than a year with shortness of breath when she climbed stairs or walked even a short distance. Her symptoms were steadily worsening.

When a diagnosis of congestive cardiomyopathy was made, Murray faced two choices – medications that had about a 1% chance of working or a heart transplant.

“Heart transplant surgery was new then,” the New Cumberland resident said. “I had read about people dying after it. I said ‘no.’ I couldn’t handle the thought of that.”

Things only worsened.

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June 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm Leave a comment

First-year medical students provide hands-on care to people of Panama

Thirteen first-year medical students from Penn State College of Medicine and their professor pose for a photo on San Cristobal Island in Panama. Behind them are a palm tree, the ocean and part of the island extending into the water. Most of the students are wearing scrubs.

Penn State College of Medicine students who worked on the island of San Cristobal pose for a photo.

By Jennifer Vogelsong

Grant Wandling had never left the U.S. before an April trip that had him sleeping in hammocks, making due with no running water and providing medical care to the indigenous Ngabe people of Panama.

He was one of 20 first-year medical students at Penn State College of Medicine who completed their primary care preceptorship on the remote islands of Panama’s Bocas del Toro province. Drs. Bill and Eileen Hennrikus, both professors at the College of Medicine, led the 10-day trip with eight other professors.

“It really reminds you that there are people outside of the United States who are in great need of treatment,” Wandling said. “We not only saw a lot of medical problems, we also saw another culture.”

The Hennrikus couple began leading the Panama trips seven years ago when students requested it so they could gain experience in international health without committing to Penn State College of Medicine’s four-year global health curriculum. It has grown into an accredited medical school course.

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May 29, 2019 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

When the patient is the teacher, the lesson is compassion

Penn State College of Medicine students Matthew Chapman, left, and Yuriy Pechenyy sit on a couch and talk to Maria English, a longtime participant in the Patients as Teachers program. English sits in a chair with her feet on an ottoman. She is wearing a long-sleeved sweatshirt, jeans, sneakers and glasses. Chapman is seen in profile wearing a long-sleeved shirt and has short hair. Pechenyy is seen from behind wearing a white dress shirt. A small table with family photos is next to English.

Penn State College of Medicine students Matthew Chapman, left, and Yuriy Pechenyy talk to Maria English, a longtime participant in the Patients as Teachers program.

By Carolyn Kimmel

Matthew Chapman was nervous – even scared – when he thought about meeting his first patient face-to-face.

The first-year Penn State College of Medicine student soon found out he had nothing to fear.

“After going for the first time with my partner, I loved it,” said Chapman, who is part of the College of Medicine’s Patients as Teachers Project that pairs first-year students with established patients for one-on-one mentoring. “I think this will help give another perspective on what our patients have to deal with, besides just following medical advice.”

Patients as Teachers
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May 22, 2019 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

An artificial heart saved my life: LVAD patients and families share stories at reunion

Al Dolatoski and his wife Joyce hold hands and hold microphones as they sing Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” during the LVAD Celebration of Life. Al is sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a sweatshirt and hat. He has an LVAD hanging by a strap around his shoulder. Joyce is wearing a flowered dress and hat.

Al Dolatoski and his wife Joyce sing their rendition of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” during the LVAD Celebration of Life.

By Bonnie Adams

Al Dolatoski felt short of breath and just didn’t feel well on Dec. 16, so his wife took him to an area hospital. There, he suffered a massive heart attack and underwent emergency heart bypass surgery.

Joyce Dolatoski remembers the panic she felt when he repeatedly coded in the intensive care unit and was resuscitated five times. She was relieved when told that he was being flown to Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

The couple told their story at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s annual Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVAD) Reunion on April 26. The six patients who attended share a history of severe heart failure that required an LVAD to pump blood throughout their bodies. About the size of a D battery, the devices can be used as a bridge to a heart transplant or as an alternative to transplant.

LVAD Celebration 2019 - Milton S. Hershey Medical Center (more…)

May 15, 2019 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

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