No phosphorous on lawns, medical equipment bill and more

What's going on in your region from April 9 to April 15


PA healthcare equipment bill

HARRISBURG, PA — Rep. Jason Ortitay recently introduced legislation to ensure the state has a complete accounting of health care equipment and beds available in all health care facilities statewide.

“This pandemic has brought to light some bookkeeping deficiencies that need to be addressed so we are better prepared in an emergency,” Ortitay said. “Many ambulatory surgical centers are stocked with the same equipment as hospitals since they perform elective procedures. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has had some difficulty assessing how much equipment is in these facilities. This is critical as we may need the equipment and beds during this COVID-19 pandemic and future medical emergencies.”

House Bill 2373 would require all health care facilities to report a list of health care equipment maintained by the facility as part of its annual licensure process. Additionally, when a disaster emergency is declared, all facilities would be required to report this information to the Pennsylvania Department of Health within 24 hours of the declaration.

The bill is expected to be referred to a committee soon.

Center seeks plasma from recovered COVID-19 victims

NEW YORK CITY, NY— The New York Blood Center (NYBC) is calling for recovered COVID-19 patients to donate blood plasma to help treat other patients with advanced illness. In the treatment, known as convalescent plasma, the patient is transfused with the donor’s plasma with the goal of using the donor’s antibodies to help clear the virus more rapidly and help decrease the need for ICU beds and ventilators.

NYBC was the first blood center to collect blood plasma donations for this purpose after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the treatment on March 24. NYBC is now increasing the nation’s supply of convalescent plasma by collecting donations from those who have recovered from COVID-19. NYBC will collect, process the plasma for infusion, and maintain a bank for hospitals to treat patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections.

“Our region was hit early by this pandemic and has sadly suffered from the highest number of infections in the nation. That means we now have the largest pool of recovered patients who can become donors and help those who are severely ill,” said Christopher D. Hillyer, MD, President and CEO, of New York Blood Center. 

PA senators support child programs

HARRISBURG, PA — PA State senators Judy Schwank and Lindsey M. Williams will soon introduce legislation to support childcare centers, pre-K, and Head Start programs, as well as their employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA campaigns, Pennsylvania could see permanent closures of nearly one-third of its childcare centers from an extended economic shut down, which is why Schwank and Williams are taking action.

Their proposed legislation would: provide $100 million to childcare centers to cover administrative expenses, including payroll, and fill the loss of tuition payments from families; provide $17 million for Pre-K and Head Start to cover administrative expenses, including payroll to compensate for lost co-payments that would otherwise have been collected; appropriate $50 million to extend Pre-K and Head Start programs into the summer to mitigate early childhood learning losses for students.

“Early childhood learning and safe, quality childcare is critical for restarting our economy as we come out of this crisis,” Schwank said.

DEC urges no phosphorus on lawns

ALBANY, NY — New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced on April 3 the launch of the state’s annual “Look for the Zero” public awareness campaign that encourages homeowners to go phosphorus-free when using lawn fertilizer. DEC is encouraging consumers to review bag labels for phosphorus content when shopping for fertilizer. Fertilizer labels have three numbers. The number in the middle is the percentage of phosphorus in the product, such as: 22-0-15. More than 100 water bodies in New York State cannot be used or enjoyed due to phosphorus overuse.

“With spring upon us and property owners turning to work on their lawns as a break from COVID-19, DEC encourages New Yorkers to ‘Look for the Zero’ and buy phosphorus-free fertilizer this spring. Excess phosphorus is a threat to many New York water bodies, rendering these waters un-swimmable and un-fishable. By implementing sustainable lawn care, New Yorkers are helping to eliminate phosphorus and reduce pesticide use on lawns, protecting water quality and public health,” said Seggos.

DEC first introduced “Look for the Zero” in 2017, with a public service announcement that shows the after effects of fertilizer runoff on New York’s water bodies.


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