The Mehaffie Message 12/03/21 - Emailed Newsletter
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#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
Policy Committee Examines Health Care Staffing Shortages


The House Majority Policy Committee was at Penn State Health’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center on Wednesday to discuss the staffing crisis facing hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities across the Commonwealth. Hospitals are at or over capacity, nurses are exhausted and the staffers who haven’t already left are considering doing so, according to nurses and other health care professionals who testified. Additionally, short-staffed hospitals are paying exorbitant prices to travel nurse agencies engaged in price gouging, according to Michele Szkolnicki, chief nursing officer at Hershey Medical Center. “It is a wicked, perpetual cycle,” she said.

Margaret DiCuccio, chief nursing officer for Allegheny Health Network, said she knows of patients waiting hours and sometimes days for beds in inpatient settings.

Testifiers lamented the need for retention bonuses, increased pay for nursing faculty, expanded financial aid opportunities for students and improved methods of recruiting nurses to rural hospitals. DiCuccio testified she has 1,100 open positions to fill for registered nurses.

I spoke about House Bill 106, which I co-introduced with Rep. KC Tomlinson (R-Bucks). The legislation would establish safe patient limits under the care of a single nurse. It is my hope that this initiative would minimize burnout among those in the nursing profession. If something like this was implemented years ago, we may not be in this situation. Without nurses, we don’t have hospitals.

To watch a video of the hearing or read testimony submitted to the committee, click here.
Be Prepared for Winter Weather Travel

With snow making an appearance in some parts of the state this past week, it’s a good time to get your vehicle ready for winter.

Consider having your mechanic check the brakes, battery, hoses and belts. Also make sure your fluid levels are full; the heater and defroster are working properly, as well as your radio in order to receive weather and traffic reports; tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth; and wipers and lights are in good working order.

Try to avoid traveling in severe winter weather, but if you have to go, bring a winter emergency travel kit, including a blanket and warm clothes, jumper cables, small shovel, first aid kit, medications for you and your passengers, and water and nonperishable food. A full list of suggested items is available here.

Also, keep these safe winter driving tips in mind: Slow down and increase your following distance; avoid sudden stops and starts; beware of black ice – roads that look wet but are actually frozen; use extra caution on bridges and ramps, as they tend to freeze first; do not use cruise control while driving on snow-covered roads; remove ice and snow from your vehicle windows and mirrors, as well as the roof and hood; and do not pass or get between trucks plowing in a plow line.

For more information and resources to help you prepare for and get through the winter safely, visit
Amateur Butter Sculpture Contest at 2022 PA Farm Show

In honor of the iconic butter sculpture created each year for the Pennsylvania Farm Show, residents are being encouraged to try their hand at crafting a do-it-yourself butter sculpture.

The contest, conducted on social media, will be open for submissions from Friday, Dec. 3, through Friday, Dec. 17, at noon.

“Butter Up!” contest guidelines include:
  •   Contestants can use up to five pounds of butter.
  •   Contestants can use chicken wire, sculpting wire and a base to support the design.
  •   Contestants cannot use food dye or coloring of any kind to enhance the butter.
  •   Sculptures must be unique, individual work of the entrants.

Entrants will be judged in six age groups: 5 and under, elementary school (ages 5-10), middle school (ages 11-13), high school (ages 14-18), adult (ages 19-64) and senior (ages 65+). Winning sculptors from each age group will receive gift cards from Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) members and one-day parking passes for the 2022 Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Complete guidelines, rules and regulations are available here.
Fiddlers Elbow Road Bridge Reopened

Fiddlers Elbow Road bridge, which crosses Swatara Creek in Derry and Lower Swatara townships, is back open to traffic. The bridge was closed in March for superstructure replacement.

Some completion work is expected in the spring, but the bridge will be open for the winter.

Dauphin County Commissioners approved work on the county-owned structure to prolong its use and prevent it from becoming load-restricted.

Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc., Dauphin County’s bridge engineer, handled the work.