Scranton Shakespeare Festival Announces HARK, a Virtual Variety Show

Filming and editing is underway as a plethora of talented NEPA natives and Scranton Shakespeare Festival alums warm up their vocal chords and don their gay apparel for HARK, a virtual variety show. The entertainment will be hosted by season regular Conor McGuigan who will emcee the event with his usual comedic panache and serve as your guide as you enjoy one holiday music video after the next.

There is footage from Scrantonians singing in Boston, dancing in California, belting ballads in Brooklyn, and of course, showcasing some wonderful holiday landscapes in NEPA. In addition to the amazing talents that will be shared at this event, guests will also be the first to hear the 2021 season lineup and socially distant venue for the Scranton Shakespeare Festival’s 10th season of free, professional theatre.

Due to COVID-19, Scranton Shakes withheld from their normal fundraising efforts, including that of a seasonal campaign. It is no surprise that the entertainment sector was especially ravaged by the virus. Still, Shakes is hoping Hark will serve not only as a perennial, festive means to engage with their audience in the off season, but also help fund their upcoming tenth season of live theatre.
Ticket options for HARK will go on sale at www.ScrantonShakes.com on December 20th, 2020 at 2:00 PM, the day the show will be released to the public and will be available up until the new year!

Some talent for Hark includes: Michele Conaboy McGrath, Lorenzo Pugliese, Sean Patrick Gibbons, Julia Pasko, Billie Aken-Tyers, Matthew Lynady, Kelly Jean Graham, LaToya Martin, Jerica Tallo, Colin Holmes, Ethan Cutillo, Stephen Murphy, Melissa McKamie, Juliana Pillets, Lily Mao, Gabby Paradise, Christopher Jordan, Darren Cementina, Joe McGurl; filmed and directed by Simone Daniel and Michael Bradshaw Flynn with musical arrangements by Stephen Murphy and Gabby Paradise and Ethan Cutillo.

Geisinger Researchers Explore Safety of Ventilator Sharing to Mitigate Equipment Shortages

Using a single ventilator to support two patients could be feasible in crisis situations involving a ventilator shortage, researchers have found.

A team of clinical investigators from Geisinger partnered with Bucknell University and Kitware, a New York-based software research and development company, to develop a computational model to simulate varying scenarios in which two patients share one ventilator.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created shortages of medical supplies and equipment, including life-saving ventilators, around the world. Earlier this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidelines for ventilator sharing in cases of ventilator shortage.

However, studies of this practice are few, and “the pace of conventional research is too slow when addressing a pandemic crisis,” the research team wrote. “Computational simulation provides an opportunity to quickly develop guidance over a wide range of possible clinical scenarios without incurring patient risk.”

Using Kitware’s Pulse Physiology Engine software, the team created whole-body physiological simulations of 287 COVID-19 patients with varying levels of lung function and oxygen saturation index (OSI) that could be successfully managed using a dedicated ventilator. A whole-body physiological simulation allows researchers to observe secondary effects that would not be apparent when modeling mechanics of ventilation alone. The team then used the software to calculate outcomes for all possible modeled patient pairings to project the success of using a shared ventilator for each pair.

Patients with similar levels of lung function and comparable OSI were most likely to have satisfactory outcomes when paired to a single ventilator, the team found.

The study was published in PLOS ONE.

Sharing ventilators should be considered a last-resort approach in a situation where all available ventilators have been deployed, so it is most likely to be used in developing countries, researchers said.

“In resource-limited regions of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to create equipment shortages,” said S. Mark Poler, M.D., anesthesiologist at Geisinger and a co-author of the study. “While single-patient ventilation is preferable, under extreme circumstances and in resource-challenged regions, multi-patient ventilation is a potentially viable option and can significantly increase the capacity to care for critically ill patients. Our simulations provide a conceptual framework and guidelines for clinical patient selection.”

“This study shows that the Pulse Physiology Engine can simulate realistic equipment mechanics and patient physiology for a variety of illness severities,” said Rachel Clipp, Ph.D., a technical leader on Kitware’s Medical Computing Team and co-author of the study. “Having the ability to leverage these capabilities during a pandemic provides valuable clinical information that can be used to inform medical treatment in resource-constrained situations.”

Holiday Window Showcase in Downtown Scranton

Scranton Tomorrow invites you to an annual tradition in the Downtown Scranton Business District, the Holiday Window Showcase, on display through January 1, 2021. Dozens of businesses have decorated their windows to capture the magic of the holiday season in our beautiful downtown.

A safe and memorable way to spend time with loved ones this holiday season by taking in the magic of a treasured tradition. Head to www.scrantontomorrow.org for more information!

Pennsylvania American Water Offers Virtual Information Sessions on Customer Assistance Programs

Pennsylvania American Water is hosting a series of virtual information sessions about its customer assistance programs, with the first on Thursday, Dec. 17 at 4 p.m. Representatives from Pennsylvania American Water and the company’s H2O Help to Others program administrator, Dollar Energy Fund, will provide information about the company’s H2O Help to Others Program, which offers financial assistance for income-eligible customers, including grants of up to $500 per year, discounts on monthly water and wastewater charges, and water-saving devices and education. The company will also explain how all customers – regardless of income – can set up payment arrangements, sign up for budget billing, and reduce water usage to lower their monthly bills.

“We look forward to offering these live information sessions to help our customers navigate our different assistance programs,” said Laura Martin, Director of Communications and External Affairs at Pennsylvania American Water. “Understanding the unique financial challenges COVID-19 has created for some customers, our hope is to help eliminate any barriers preventing customers in need from applying for assistance.”

Pennsylvania American Water recently informed customers that it was extending its suspension of water service shutoffs until April 2021. However, the company is urging customers who are facing financial hardships to not wait to seek assistance until a shutoff is looming and is conducting additional outreach to encourage participation in its assistance programs.   

To access the live session, visit https://bit.ly/2JWLHNA a few minutes prior to the event. Pre-registration not required and there is no password to join. Participants will be able to ask questions live during the event. A second information session is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 14 at 4 p.m. Sessions will be recorded and posted to the company’s YouTube channel for customers who cannot participate live.

For more information, download this event flyer or visit https://www.amwater.com/paaw/customer-service-billing/customer-assistance-programs. The company also recently released a new educational video on its customer assistance programs.

Robert H. Spitz Foundation Supports Outreach Center for Community Resources

The Robert H. Spitz Foundation has awarded a $30,000 grant to support the programs and services that Outreach provides to the regional community. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Outreach has continued to operate and provide urgent family and workforce development services to those in need. The Robert H. Spitz Foundation is supporting Outreach as the organization responds to an increased demand for essential services and programs. This operational support will allow Outreach to assist those in the community who are disproportionately affected by this disaster.

Lackawanna County Get Connected Program

Attention Lackawanna County Businesses!

Do you need an increased online presence due to the pandemic? The Lackawanna County Department of Planning & Economic Development is in a partnership with Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance (NEPA) to launch the Get Connected program to assist businesses within the County with the development of e-commerce platforms. Twenty-five (25) eligible firms will receive e-commerce technical assistance. For additional information and to apply, click here.

Raul Santana Nunez, Named Director of Military and Veteran Services

Raul Santana Nunez, Hazleton, Pa., was recently named the director of Military and Veteran Services at Marywood University. In his role, some of the responsibilities as director include planning, organizing, and directing activities related to student veterans; instituting new initiatives according to identified needs; serving as a liason for the university and larger community regarding working with student veterans; enhancing the holistic wellbeing of student veterans; helping facilitate a successful transition for student veterans into civilian life; and coordinating activities, promotional efforts, and the Center’s programs throughout the academic year, to name a few.

Mr. Nunez earned both his bachelor of arts degree in communication studies with a minor in political science and his master of education degree in educational leadership from Bloomsburg University. While a student at Bloomsburg University, Mr. Nunez served as a graduate assistant for both the Office of Admissions and its DAWN office. Additionally, he served as a policy associate for Student Veterans of America.

Mr. Nunez serves in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, a reserve component of the United States Army, that plays a role in the nation’s defense and support to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in times of need. He has served in this capacity from 2014 to present.

In his role as policy associate for the Student Veterans of America, Mr. Nunez promoted legislative efforts that center on educational rights for veterans, their spouses, and/or other dependents by researching, summarizing and providing a comprehensive understanding of a variety of bills and policies and their significance for veterans in higher education. Additionally, he collaborated with other Veteran Service Organizations advocating for veteran education success in Congress, as well as supporting veteran outreach programs that are centered in general well-being and connectedness, such as the Veterans Creed and the Transition Assistance Programs.

For additional information about the Office of Military and Veteran Resources at Marywood University, please visit www.marywood.edu/veterans/, or call (570) 961-4584.

Geisinger Begins Providing COVID-19 Vaccines to Front-Line Health Care Heroes

Today, Geisinger employees became among the first in Pennsylvania to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Within 24 hours of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arriving at Geisinger facilities, front-line health care workers rolled up their sleeves to get their first of two doses.

As one of the first health care systems in the Commonwealth to receive the vaccine, Geisinger is providing it to front-line staff whose daily work involves significant interactions with COVID-19 patients and other staff in critical departments. This vaccination plan is in alignment with Pennsylvania Department of Health and federal guidelines for providing the vaccine in this initial phase. The first vaccinations occurred at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital and Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center.

Geisinger anticipates receiving between 2,000 and 3,000 doses in this initial shipment. With about 14,000 front-line workers, Geisinger will be administering the vaccine as quickly as supplies allow to the eligible employees. The system is leveraging its transportation technology, communications, and scheduling capabilities to efficiently administer the vaccine.

For answers to questions about the vaccine, visit our COVID-19 vaccine resources center at gesinger.org/COVIDvax.

Though the vaccine is starting to be administered, the ongoing community spread of the virus continues. As of midnight Wednesday, 254 patients with COVID-19 were admitted to hospitals throughout the system, meaning 1 in 4 hospitalizations are for COVID-19. On average over the past two weeks, Geisinger hospitals admitted more than one patient per hour with COVID-19, and outpatient testing centers continued to see about 360 new positive COVID-19 tests per day. This indicates an average positivity rate of about 22 percent, meaning at least 1 in 5 people may be infected with COVID-19.

Continuing to follow the recommended preventive measures of masking, physical distancing and handwashing remains critical. While front-line hospital staff are receiving the vaccine, it will likely be well into 2021 before enough people are vaccinated to allow for loosening these recommendations. Front-line health care workers who receive the vaccine will continue to wear masks and proper personal protective equipment.