Scranton Medical Students Shadowing Consumer Data Collection

Scranton Health Care Quality Unit agreed to have The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC) MD Year 1 students visit the Advocacy Alliance. We were excited about sharing our HCQU service with the TCMC medical students as they can greatly benefit from shadowing a complex Consumer Data Collection (CDC) survey. The CDC could take place in the community, day program, group home, or long term care facility setting for an observation of how the consumer with a chronic illness and a developmental disability manages in the community.

Students were assigned to the Advocacy Alliance during their Community Week:

Monday, January 30, 2012 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

HCQU Breast Health Program

Breast Health Program

Approximately six months ago, the Eastern PA Health Care Quality Unit (HCQU) received a request from The ReDCo Group to assist them in writing a desensitization program for a woman who had not been successful in obtaining a mammogram. The HCQU discussed the request and decided that this may be an opportunity to collaborate with our community hospital and their breast health department in finding ways to promote screening in women who have a developmental disability.

The HCQU scheduled a meeting with the breast health department. The HCQU provided the breast health staff with a DVD that addressed the importance of sensitivity, good communication, and knowledge regarding adaptive positioning techniques that may be helpful in providing care to women with a developmental disability. The supervisor of the breast health department felt that sponsoring a few social type events might be helpful in increasing the comfort level of the women in need of a mammogram. The HCQU decided to consider this a pilot program and proceeded with four women from The ReDCo Group.

The objective of the first reception was getting the women who needed mammograms into the breast health area of the hospital and introducing them to radiology technicians, the breast health nurse, and a receptionist that would work with them. During the second visit the women and their supports professionals took a tour of the breast health area, looked at the mammography machine, and got some additional information regarding breast cancer from the breast health nurse. Refreshments were served at both social events.

A breast health handout was developed. The HCQU presented a training to The ReDCo Group supports professionals and women before each of the hospital meetings and the breast health handout was given to them. Then the supports professionals were asked to review the information in the handout with women twice a week before the day of the mammogram. There was effort and consideration by The ReDCo Group regarding which supports professionals would be working with the women. The objective was to have the supports professionals which the women were most comfortable with review the breast health information and take the women to the breast health social events.

At this point, the HCQU is getting ready to move into the next phase of this program. The hospital has offered to do the mammograms at a time when there are no other distractions and to schedule the women as a group. The technicians that do the mammograms will be those that the women and support professionals have met. The hospital staff gave the HCQU the paperwork that needs to be completed and it has been passed on to the provider staff, with the objective of having the paperwork completed before the visit to minimize waiting time. Before this last visit the HCQU will show a video to the four women and the supports professionals.

The HCQU is encouraging the supports professionals to celebrate the mammogram being done by going out to dinner, or doing something else that is special for the women.

Changes to Medical Assistance Prescription Coverage

Changes are being made to the Medical Assistance/ ACCESS program regarding prescription coverage. The links below contain valuable and helpful information if you or a loved one are affected by these changes.


Medical Assistance Bulletin from the PA Department of Public Welfare

Medical Assistance Prescription Coverage Limit Fact sheet


Corbett Nominates Gary Tennis to Lead Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs

News From PCPA

Governor Corbett has nominated Gary Tennis of Philadelphia to serve as secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. The new department was created as a result of Act 50 signed into law before Governor Rendell left office. The Corbett administration had decided last year not to create the department, citing budgetary constraints, but has decided to move forward.

Tennis is retired from his previous position as chief of the legislation unit in the Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office, where he represented the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association working with the General Assembly. He has more than 25 years of legislative experience and served as executive director of the President’s Commission on Model State Drug Laws in 1993. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tulsa in 1975 and was a Rhodes Scholarship nominee. He is also a graduate of The University of Pennsylvania Law School.

It was reported that Tennis’s first order of business will be to analyze the provision of drug and alcohol services, which are currently provided through several agencies including the Departments of Health and Public Welfare. Tennis has been charged with taking a “commonsense approach to streamlining and eliminating duplication of state drug and alcohol treatment and prevention efforts in Pennsylvania.”

The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs was created under Act 50 of 2010. It will establish a plan for the management and allocation of state and federal funds used to oversee alcohol and drug prevention, intervention, and treatment services. The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs is currently located in the Health and Welfare building. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is assisting in the agency’s formation.

PCPA will work with the new department to assure that member issues and priorities are addressed.


Find out more at PCPA’s website:

Developmental Disabilities Myths vs. Facts

Developmental Disabilities: Myths Vs. Facts

Developmental Disabilities Myth 1: A developmental disability is the same as mental “illness”.

Fact: A developmental disability means that a person develops mentally at a below average rate. He or she may have difficulty in learning and social adjustment, but can learn. With the appropriate intervention and education, he or she can lead a satisfying and productive life in the community.


Developmental Disabilities Myth 2: A developmental disability is a contagious disease.

Fact: A developmental disability is not a disease and is certainly not contagious. It is a condition which affects an individual because of some change or damage with the developing brain and neurological system.


Developmental Disabilities Myth 3: Persons who have severe and profound developmental disabilities must be locked away in institutions for their own, and society’s, safety.

Fact: Systematic training efforts have proven that most people with severe and profound developmental disabilities can learn to at least care for their basic needs. Many can perform useful work with support and can otherwise adapt to normal patterns of life. It has been proven that the most effective environment for everyone to learn and develop is one which is in the community and which offers a family-like atmosphere of caring and nurturing.


Developmental Disabilities Myth 4: Educational and vocational training will not help persons who have developmental disabilities.

Fact: Most persons with developmental disabilities can learn, although at a slower rate, and are capable of living in the community with little or no support services. Early intervention is a major emphasis since it is proven that the sooner a person is diagnosed as having developmental disabilities and appropriate programming is started, the more productive and capable he or she will be for a meaningful life in the community. Vocational programs offer a variety of services to prepare individuals for work. They may learn a trade or receive supported employment help to find a job in a competitive work environment.


Developmental Disabilities Myth 5: We do not know what causes developmental disabilities and they cannot be prevented.

Fact: Developmental disabilities can be caused by any condition which impairs development of the brain during birth or in early childhood. More than 250 causes have been discovered but they account for only one-fourth of the causes of developmental disabilities.

The most well-known are:

  • Rubella, or German measles, in the pregnant woman
  • Meningitis
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • RH Factor
  • Chromosomal abnormalities (i.e., Down Syndrome)

Developmental disabilities can be prevented in some cases. Some prevention strategies include:

  • Access to good prenatal and postnatal care for mother and child.
  • Improved nutrition in pregnant women and infants.
  • Avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Newborn screening, such as PKU, to detect disorders like hypothyroidism.
  • Routine screening and immunizations of mothers to prevent RH blood Factor.
  • Use of child seats and seat belts to prevent head injuries.
  • Screening for lead poisoning for all children under age 5.

Persons who have developmental disabilities are PEOPLE FIRST. They have the same needs and desires as everyone else. Treat them as individuals. Recognize their ABILITIES and not their disabilities.