Here are the stories for this week's Pennsylvania Member Exchange package. If you have any questions, contact the Philadelphia bureau at 215-561-1133.
For use anytime:
Editorials from around Pennsylvania.
For Saturday, Aug. 16, and thereafter:
MEMBER EXCHANGE-KEYSTONE EXTRA
PHILADELPHIA — Tony Burke was an energetic 2-year-old who loved drawing purple pictures of Barney and jumping on trampolines. But then his parents began to notice how he would grunt instead of talk, and couldn't look anyone in the eye. Before his third birthday, in 2005, he was diagnosed with autism. "It felt like my heart had been ripped out," said his mother, Suzanne Burke of Philadelphia. Seeking the best care, his parents found applied behavior analysis (ABA), a one-on-one therapy considered the most effective treatment to date for autism. While doing ABA, Tony's grunts became words like "cookie" and "juice," which later evolved into sentences, such as "Can I have some juice?" The intensive therapy was working. But then the family's insurance started denying claims. Even though laws in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey require insurers to pay for ABA, Tony's therapy wasn't covered in school, where he most needed help. And it was impossible for the Burkes to pay the nearly $80,000 a year this therapy costs. Rachel Zamzow, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
PITTSBURGH — The doctor sat in Valerie Robinson's apartment and marveled at the number of pill bottles she kept in a zippered bag. "Holy schmoley, girl!" Dr. Rick Fogle said as he sorted through the medications in Robinson's Harrison high-rise. Checking the drugs against a list, Fogle concluded that more than half were not part of her official medical record. Within two hours, he found that Robinson's doctor had moved offices and she needed a new doctor. Without this rare home visit, Robinson, 65, likely would have ended up hospitalized, Fogle said. To avoid this, hospitals target patients such as Robinson and send doctors to their homes, hoping to prevent readmissions. The hospital's approach is fueled partly by the government's goal to curb readmissions, which cost an estimated $12 billion in Medicare spending. Luis Fabregas, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
KINGSTON — Such is the case of the Kingston High School Class of 1959. It's a class that was once 221 members strong and for years prided itself in boasting that their survival rate is much higher than most others. That's why at the 50th reunion just five years ago, the turnout was good and everybody enjoyed talking about those days of sock hops, football games and running through the halls of the fabled brown brick building on Chester Street that is now the Wyoming Valley West Middle School. But as the 55th reunion approaches — it was to be held Saturday evening at the Hotel at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs — the planning committee is disappointed with the number of reservations, but even more chagrined that several classmates are unable to attend due to health issues. "We've lost more classmates in the last five years than ever before," said Committee Co-Chairman John Bonczewski. "But 84 percent of our class is still with us." Bill O'Boyle, The (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader.
LANCASTER — For 44 years, Detective Dennis Arnold had an up-close look at the ugly side of Lancaster County. Teenagers killing innocent robbery targets. A decade of gang-on-gang violence. Two of the county's most brutal killings ever. The car-crash murder of a young family. Yet, many of his investigations ended the way he worked them: with conviction. "I was tenacious. I kept digging," he said in his last days on the job, reflecting on decades of police work. "I never stopped digging." Until last week. Arnold retired at the age of 63, a long way from his start as a Lancaster city police cadet, mere months after graduating from McCaskey High School. "It was fun, never boring. But I can tell it's time," he said. "I'll let someone else mop up after me." Brett Hambright, Lancaster Newspapers.
PITTSBURGH — Thunder crashed in the hills above Hays, and rain spilled over each side of the Glenwood Bridge on a recent Saturday, but Dana Nesiti didn't flinch. He had been in the area since 7:30 that morning, scanning the skies. For as long as two bald eagles have been nesting in a suburban hillside along the Monongahela River, people like Nesiti have been watching. The 52-year-old, camouflage-clad West Mifflin resident first stationed himself along the bike trail below the eagles' nest in February 2013, when the pair hatched their first eaglet in a nest that would collapse and be rebuilt in a nearby tree over the course of a year. Eventually, it served as home to three baby eagles that have become the focus of many a Pittsburgher's attention. "We've never seen anything like this," said Bill Powers of PixController, the company behind a live footage camera trained on the next. "Pittsburgh has truly rallied around the eagles." Yanan Wang, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.