New Program Prepares Students For High Priority Employment As Pharmacy Technicians

Blue Bell, PA —Pharmacy technician jobs are expected to grow by 20 percent through 2022—nine percent higher than the average growth rate for all occupations nationally according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The demand holds true in Pennsylvania as well. Pharmacy Technician is designated as a High Priority Occupation in the Commonwealth, which ranks fourth among states in the number of pharmacy technicians currently employed.

To help fill the demand in this growing field, Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) is offering a 50-hour Pharmacy Technician program on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-9:30 p.m. starting on Oct. 15 and running through Dec. 8. Classes will be held at MCCC’s Central Campus 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

The cost of attending the Pharmacy Technician program is $1,995, which includes the course textbook. The program is approved by PA Career Link for students who qualify. Students should have, or be pursing, a high school diploma or GED to enroll. To learn more or to register, call 215-461-1127 or email

MCCC’s Pharmacy Technician program prepares students to work in the pharmacy field and to take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board’s national exam, among other national and state certifications. The courses cover key topics such as pharmacy calculations; medical terminology; skills to read and interpret prescriptions; review of the top 200 drugs; skills to identify drugs by generic and brand names; dosage calculations, IV flow rates, drug compounding and dose conversions; the dispensing of prescriptions; inventory control; and billing and reimbursement.

In addition to the first fall cohort, the Pharmacy Technician program will also be offered with day, evening and weekend classes this spring at both MCCC’s Central Campus in Blue Bell and its West Campus, located at 101 College Drive, in Pottstown.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry reports that candidates with formal training or prior experience have the best opportunity for employment as pharmacy technicians. In 2012, the median salary for pharmacy technicians was $29,320 nationally.

To learn more, visit and click on Areas of Study, followed by Health Sciences, then Career Training Programs.

Powerful New Video Predicts Bright Future For Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s transformation from steel and manufacturing to eds and meds is a well-known story that continues to attract national attention, this time from Time Magazine.

Watch the video at:

Music Meets Medicine Conference

Interdisciplinary Society for Quantitative Research in Music and Medicine
  Music Meets Medicine Conference
Advancing our understanding of the medical impact of music

July 24-26 2015
  •  Informative experiential workshop presentations and research papers

Raga therapy, Sacred scale, Chinese Bell Therapy, African drumming, BioGuided Music Therapy, Mandala and Music, Music and Pain, Native flutes and more…….

* CEU credits  available for Chinese Medicine and Music therapists

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  • Evening Concerts  (Open to the Public) shows start at 7:30pm
    with vendors selling Cd’s and world instruments check our concerts

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Children’s Gets $5 Million Gift From Giant Food

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia announced Friday a $5 million gift from Giant Food Stores L.L.C. toward the $425 million Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care under construction at the hospital’s University City campus.

The hospital in June received a $50 million donation toward the outpatient center scheduled to open next year from hospital trustee Reid Buerger and his family, which owns a Fort Washington financial services firm.


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Pennsylvania Struggles To Retain Doctors, Report Says

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania has a strong supply of doctors, but is struggling to keep its younger, newly graduated physicians in the state, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The association’s annual State Physician Workforce Data Book ranked Pennsylvania 10th in the country for its percentage of patient care doctors, but 37th in retaining those training through medical schools, residency programs, and fellowship positions.

The report was discussed Tuesday during the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s end-of-the-year state medical political news conference.

“Considering that the report indicates Pennsylvania has the fourth highest percentage of medical school students in the country, we should be concerned that our retention rate appears low,” said Dr. Bruce A. MacLeod, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, in a statement.

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30 Years Of Change: A New Direction For Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Morphing from steel industry collapse to eds-and-meds rebirth, from a too-gray place that young people flee to one that attracts them as a “green” center of culture and recreation, from a tale of Rust Belt woe to one of urban transformation, it is indisputable that the Pittsburgh region is a far different place than it was 30 years ago.

And by most standards, it would seem to be a far better place as well.

Since 1983, when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a special section chronicling the unique and worrisome issues confronting the region during Depression-level hits to its workforce, Pittsburgh has lost people, corporations, churches, schools and, yes, even a prothonotary.

But it has rebuilt its economy; added museums, theaters and riverfront trails; replaced its sports facilities, airport and convention center; and reinvented the Pittsburgh Downtown as a place to live, while serving the thousands more who commute to it by opening a subway, busways and a highway to the north.

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Reading Hospital Joins Alliance With Six Others

The Reading Health System announced Wednesday that it has joined an alliance with six other health systems in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a move officials say could lead to better and more affordable care for patients, improve hospital operations and reduce costs.

The alliance, AllSpire Health Partners, is not a merger, officials stressed.  Reading Hospital will remain locally governed and managed.

The seven health systems include a total of 25 hospitals with a service area of more than 6 million people.  The systems have a combined revenue of $10.5 billion, and AllSpire touts the partnership as the largest health care consortium in the country.

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Expansion Prescribed For Reading Hospital

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading Health System plans to build a $354 million clinical building on its West Reading campus, a move hospital officials say could keep more Berks County patients in the area for their medical care.

“What we’re really doing is upgrading what we currently have and bringing some of our facilities into the 21st century,” said Mark McNash, vice president of support services for the Reading Health System.  “We’re excited to offer state-of-the-art surgical facilities for the community.”

Construction of the eight-story building on Seventh Avenue and Parkside Drive will begin in September.  It will take three years to complete, McNash said.

Health system officials say they are undertaking the ambitious and expensive project because the hospital building is outdated in some respects.

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Reading Area Ranked 10th In Country In Heart-Attack Rate

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Doctors in the Reading area scrambled to treat several patients who suffered heart attacks last weekend.

Berks Cardiologists treated six people for heart attacks at the area’s two local hospitals, said Dr. Andrew Waxler, a cardiologist with the Spring Township-based practice.

The number of heart attacks was higher than usual, but hardly unprecedented, he said.

“I can’t say we’re noticing more heart attacks recently,” Waxler said.  “But I can say we are noticing a lot of them.”

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Lancaster General Hospital Leads Area Hospitals In Rankings

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Area hospitals made the annual U.S. News “Best Hospitals” lists in several categories.

Lancaster General Hospital was ranked nationally in four specialties and ranked sixth in the state overall on the lists, which the magazine released recently.

Lancaster Regional Medical Center was ranked 34th in the state.

In the region, Penn State Hershey Medical Center was ranked 16th in the state and the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital was nationally ranked in five specialties.

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Some At Altoona Regional Health System Urging Caution In UPMC’s Acquisition

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Blair County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Blair County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UPMC‘s months-in-the-making acquisition of the Altoona Regional Health System may soon be finalized, but the deal is not sitting well with some employees and community residents.

Last week, a petition with some 2,000 signatures was delivered to Altoona Health officials, urging them “to slow down and stop exclusive talks with UPMC in order to re-examine the best future course for our hospital.”

The next day, Altoona president and CEO Jerry Murray sent a letter to the health system’s 6,000 employees that said the UPMC affiliation was on track for a July 1 completion announcement, pending final approval from the board and the state attorney general’s office.

“There are some very well-meaning people in the community who have concerns, and we appreciate the concerns that they have.  Unfortunately, there are also some with self-serving motives,” said Dave Cuzzolina, Altoona Health’s director of marketing and communications.

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Pressure Grows To Create Drugs For ‘Superbugs’

Government officials, drug companies and medical experts, faced with outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” are pushing to speed up the approval of new antibiotics, a move that is raising safety concerns among some critics.

The need for new antibiotics is so urgent, supporters of an overhaul say, that lengthy studies involving hundreds or thousands of patients should be waived in favor of directly testing such drugs in very sick patients.  Influential lawmakers have said they are prepared to support legislation that allows for faster testing.

The Health and Human Services Department last month announced an agreement under which it will pay $40 million to a major drug maker, GlaxoSmithKline, to help it develop medications to combat antibiotic resistance and biological agents that terrorists might use.  Under the plan, the federal government could give the drug company as much as $200 million over the next five years.

“We are facing a huge crisis worldwide not having an antibiotics pipeline,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration.  “It is bad now, and the infectious disease docs are frantic.  But what is worse is the thought of where we will be five to 10 years from now.”

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‘Doc-In-A-Box’ Centers On Rise For Urgent Care

Temple University logo (no text, "T"...

Temple University logo (no text, “T” only) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Only a week after Shannon Cropper first noticed Temple University‘s cherry-and-white “T” on a ReadyCare Center at the Pavilion in Jenkintown, he found himself sitting in an examination room there with his 9-year-old daughter, Kennedy, who had tumbled off her bicycle and twisted her ankle.

“I’m having a hard time walking on it,” Kennedy said as she rested the injured joint on her father’s lap.

Just 45 minutes after entering the ReadyCare’s bright waiting room, Kennedy had had her vital signs taken, been examined by a doctor, and had her swollen ankle X-rayed.  Father and daughter were now waiting for a radiologist a few miles down the road at Temple University Hospital to read the film.

“It’s well-organized,” Cropper said of ReadyCare, one of a growing number of urgent-care centers set up by hospitals like Temple. “My first impression is that this is amazing.”


What Lancaster County’s 4 Hospitals Made In Profits In 2012

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The bottom line is starting to look healthier for local hospitals, which saw profits of between $7 million and $65 million in 2012 after some recent lean years.

All four hospitals saw an increase in profits, with two sister hospitals here seeing the biggest leap, according to a new state report.

All of the hospitals also had robust profit margins, according to the report by the Pennsylvania Health Cost Containment Council.

One local hospital official, however, said things might not be as good as they appear, due to the fact that the data included in the report does not include losses from hospital-owned physician practices.

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Hospital Charges A Mystery To Many

If you need hip replacement surgery, you will face a wide range of charges here, depending on the hospital you choose.

Lancaster Regional Medical Center charged the most for major joint replacement surgery, $60,434, of the four hospitals here, according to a recent federal report on 2011 charges.

Across town, Lancaster General Hospital charged the least, $37,761, about $23,000 less than Regional.

But hang on to your crutches, patients.  There’s more.

Though LGH charged the least, Medicare, the federal insurance for the elderly paid it the most of all the hospitals here, $13,400.

Confused yet? Join the club.

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Lancaster General’s $50 Million Project At Former Lancaster Family YMCA Site Moves Forward

After receiving approvals more than a year ago to build a new office building and a parking garage on the former Lancaster Family YMCA site, Lancaster General Health put the brakes on the project.

Now it’s full speed ahead.

Andrew Baldo, vice president of project developer Arcadia Properties, on Wednesday sought and received from the city Planning Commission a waiver of preliminary plan approval requirements.

The waiver allows the $50 million project to skip a step and moves it closer to having all approvals in place by late June.

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Einstein Medical Center Montgomery Expanding

Location of East Norriton Township in Montgome...

Location of East Norriton Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

EAST NORRITON – It’s been barely six months since the shiny new Einstein Medical Center Montgomery debuted on the site of the old “Woody’s” golf course, and already the hospital is growing.

Expansion to the latest addition of the Einstein Healthcare Network – essentially a conversion of the west wing of the medical center’s fourth floor – came a bit sooner than anticipated, noted Beth Duffy, Chief Operating Officer of Einstein Medical Center Montgomery.

“We really thought it would happen a year or two down the road, but the early success of Einstein Medical Center Montgomery has created the need for additional patient care areas.”

Luckily, expansion opportunities were built in during the original construction, Duffy explained.

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Jobs Returning To The Lehigh Valley, Slowly

Lehigh Valley workers were hit harder by the recession and recovered more slowly from the damage than those in many comparable urban areas.

That finding and a slew of others are included in the fifth annual State of the Lehigh Valley research study that was rolled out Thursday at Lehigh University by the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium and Renew Lehigh Valley.

Researchers Christopher Ruebeck and Jamila Bookwala, who led the presentation, ran down regional employment figures between 2006 and 2012, finding that the Lehigh Valley’s job market held its own prior to the recession, comparing favorably with similar metro areas, with the nation as a whole and with our neighbors in New Jersey.

But the Valley’s unemployment rate rose more than comparable metro areas during the Great Recession, and those jobs have come back more slowly than in many comparable areas or the state or nation as a whole.

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Berks Hospitals Get High Ratings

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Medical treatment available at Reading Hospital and St. Joseph Medical Center is as good as or better than any other hospital in Pennsylvania.

But the cost of that treatment is more expensive at Reading Hospital, 16 percent more expensive on average.

The Hospital Performance Report released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council measures the in-hospital death and readmission rate of all hospitals in the state in 2011.  A readmission is defined as being admitted to the hospital within 30 days of being hospitalized for the same condition.

It also measures the average cost for treating some common medical conditions.

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‘Eds And Meds’ Still Growing In Pittsburgh Region

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pittsburgh region’s 21st-century economy has often been referred to as one where manufacturing has been displaced by the “eds and meds” sector, but there remain pockets where local residents still lean heavily on the more traditional means of employment.

In nine Allegheny County municipalities, more than twice as many residents are employed in manufacturing as is the case in the county overall, according to new census data. Many of the communities are in the Route 28/Allegheny Valley corridor, where many light manufacturing firms operate — some of them growing and thriving.

The occupational information was just one nugget in a bounty of new American Community Survey data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The data are based on a survey of the national population over a five-year span, from 2007-11, with the government deeming the sample size sufficient to release estimates for wide-ranging characteristics of every municipality.

While Allegheny County and the surrounding region once served as a manufacturing center for the nation, only 8.3 percent of the county’s workforce was employed in manufacturing in the modern era, the ACS data said.  That was down from 9 percent in the 2000 census and was less than the 10.8 percent for the nation as a whole.

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