Posts filed under ‘Alumni’

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.


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!”


“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.


June 20, 2019 at 11:15 am 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.


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

Focus on emerging technology brings better patient care

Henry Thomas, age 3, of Boiling Springs holds a 3D printed model of his own heart. He stands in front of a background with Penn State Health Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals logos. He is wearing a polo shirt and pants. The model of his heart is on a white plastic block and resembles a gnarled tree.

Henry Thomas of Boiling Springs holds a 3D printed model of his own heart. He had surgery in 2017 to repair a coarctation of the aorta.

By Carolyn Kimmel

When Dr. Robert Tunks sits down with the concerned parents of a child found to have a heart defect, a 3D model of their child’s heart can go a long way in fostering understanding of the treatment options.

The model, generated from data collected from the child’s CT scan or MRI, gives doctors the ability to study a 3D replica of the heart and blood vessels that is unique to that individual patient. This allows for the medical team and families alike to be as prepared as possible prior to a child undergoing surgery or other intervention.

“This technology improves our ability to counsel families in a meaningful and compassionate way,” said Tunks, a pediatric cardiologist at Penn State Children’s Hospital. “It’s such a valuable resource for us and one that directly benefits the patients we care for.”

Rapidly evolving 3D technology was one of several timely topics presented at the 8th Annual Innovations in Healthcare Technology Conference sponsored by the Technology Council of Central PA (TCCP) and hosted by the Center for Medical Innovation at Penn State College of Medicine on Oct. 8.


December 12, 2018 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Putting physicians on the fast track to family medicine

By Michael Modes

Dr. James Kent, a medium-height white male with brown hair and a beard dressed in a white lab coat and wearing a stethoscope around his collar, counsels a male patient seated on the edge of his hospital bed. The male patient has short, dark hair and is wearing an Oxford shirt.

Dr. James Kent is doing his residency as a family medicine physician at Hershey Medical Center.

Across the nation, especially in rural areas, America is facing an acute shortage of doctors to practice family medicine. Most medical schools are in big cities, so many small communities lack resources to draw top candidates to their region. With older practitioners retiring and fewer candidates ready to take their place, Penn State College of Medicine launched an accelerated program to allow students to complete medical school in three years and enter practice one year earlier.

In 2017, Dr. James Kent became the first graduate of the accelerated program, which allows students to complete medical school in just three years, followed by a three-year residency at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Part of the College of Medicine’s Family Medicine Accelerated Pathway, also known as a 3+3 pathway, the program allows graduates to save a year of tuition and living expenses, which could add up to $70,000. Kent was also selected for the Chambersburg Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC), which provides $20,000 in tuition reimbursement if he chooses to practice in one of Summit Health’s underserved areas.


May 15, 2018 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

The future has arrived: new automated laboratory testing system speeds up results and improves quality

By Katherine Brind’Amour

A woman wearing a lab coat and rubber gloves puts medical specimens in plastic holders. Behind her is a large automated lab testing equipment. A bio-hazard bin is on the right.

Senior Technical Specialist Terri Neibauer prepares to load specimens into the Roche cobas® 8100 system.

When you go shopping for testing equipment responsible for churning out 5,000 or more specimens per day—some of which have life-changing or therapy-altering implications—you have to make sure you really get what you pay for. That’s why a team of more than a dozen people took its time selecting the Roche cobas® 8000 Chemistry Analyzer and 8100 Pre-analytical System, an automated laboratory testing system so complex that you half expect it to whip up a cappuccino with extra froth for you while it processes patient samples on its conveyor belt-style “track.”

“We were looking for a way to consolidate several different analyzers into one system, connected by a very robust automation line,” says Terri Neibauer, senior technical specialist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Automated Testing Laboratory. “We knew that the right system could help reduce the burden of manual sample tracking, expand our offerings for tests and improve our turnaround time, accuracy and quality.”

The team already has assurance they made the right choice.

Automated Laboratory Testing System - Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

A new way of doing things

“The initial perks of the Roche system were practical. It takes the place of numerous analyzers we had all over the lab, each one serviced by a different company with its own procedures,” says Thomas Stipe, manager of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Administration at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Starting in 2015, Stipe and his laboratory team members made trips to several other hospital systems to see the system and its competitors in action.

“The cobas system processes samples faster and more accurately, so it opens many future opportunities for capacity, quality assurance and research,” says Stipe. “Selecting it was the best way to make the possibilities we wanted available to us all at once.”


April 3, 2018 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

Penn State Health a National Model for Anti-Bias Policy Protecting Providers

By Gwen Newman

Dr. Hyma Polimera smiles as she holds the hand of an elderly male patient. She is wearing a white lab coat with “General Internal Medicine” on it. The patient is lying in a hospital bed, is wearing an oxygen nasal cannula and has an IV port taped on his arm. A monitor, clock and medical equipment are visible in the background.

Dr. Hyma Polimera talks with an elderly patient during her evening rounds.

Sometimes you make history quite unexpectedly. Such was the case for Dr. Hyma Polimera, an internist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center ­– and the hospital itself.

Polimera grew up in India and had long dreamed of becoming a physician. That dream materialized when she graduated with honors from Andhra Medical College in 2004. After moving to the U.S. in 2008 and completing a residency at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., she joined the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in 2014.

One fall day in 2016, she met a patient suffering from multiple chronic conditions, including dementia. Polimera introduced herself, and the patient’s daughter, who was his caregiver and power of attorney, immediately asked if they could have another physician. Polimera was blindsided. “May I ask why?” she inquired. But the physician suspected, and the woman confirmed: “I’d like to see an American doctor.”

That encounter sparked a sequence of events that would affect not just Polimera and Hershey Medical Center but the entire Penn State Health system and health care providers throughout the nation.


March 27, 2018 at 7:00 pm Leave a comment

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