CDC Report says Most Hospitals Could Do More to Support Breastfeeding

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says a majority of U. S. hospitals do not fully support breastfeeding with their practices for new moms. There’s been improvement according to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, but the progress has been really slow in getting hospitals to adopt practices that support breastfeeding.

Dr. Frieden says only 14% of hospitals have a written model policy, including helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth, having infants room with their mothers, not giving newborns formula feedings unless medically indicated and offering follow up support.  He says less than half of U. S.  babies are breastfed at all during the first six months of life. Only 15% of mothers breastfeed exclusively for six months.

Dr. Frieden says breastfeeding lowers the risk for infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, diabetes and obesity for the child.  As a result, he says breastfeeding results in lower health care costs. He says there are also health benefits for the mother, by lowering the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

It’s estimated that the failure to promote breastfeeding may cost the country’s health care system 2.2 billion dollars every year in health care costs alone.

Dr. Frieden says if the United States does not accelerate the current slow improvement in practices, most of the next few generations will be born in hospitals that don’t effectively support women who want to breast feed. 

Meet the “First Pets”

Meet "Harry," the male Airedale Terrier. His name is short for "Harrisburg"

Meet "Harry," the male Airedale Terrier. His name is short for "Harrisburg"

Governor Tom Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett introduced the new “First Pets” today.  The Corbetts received hundreds of suggested names from children across the Keystone State. 


"Penny," the female Airedale Terrier decided to untie the governor's shoe. Her name is short for "Pennsylvania."

37-children submitted the name “Penny.”  4-children submitted the name “Harry.”  Each of them will receive an autographed picture of the First Family — complete with the “First Pets.” 

In all, the Corbetts received 548-suggestions from kids in 47-counties.  First Lady Susan Corbett says there’s already a noticeable difference at the residence.  “This is a beautiful house, but I think having kids or dogs makes it a home.” 

Senior citizen woman

Caregivers and Relatives May Have Disconnect over What’s Important

A new study by researchers at Penn State and the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging shows different perceptions over what’s important among caregivers, and relatives who are in early stages of dementia.   Caregivers may not understand priorities for their older relative in terms of autonomy, burden, control, family and safety.

Steven Zarit, a professor and head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State, says there’s a window of opportunity for people with dementia to explain what’s most important to them.  He says people whose symptoms are relatively mild can say with some certainty what it is they want, what’s important about care.  He says some people want to be in control of things and some want others to make decisions for them.

Zarit says the caregiver’s perception of the situation is what’s driving this.  He says if the caregiver views the person with dementia as not being able to make decisions in everyday life, they were more likely to under-estimate the importance of these values. He believes it’s important for the ground rules to be set in the early stages. He says that’s when the person with dementia can explain their needs and values.

Zarit , the study’s leader, plans to continue the research by developing and evaluating protocols for improving communication between caregivers and their relatives.   

Monthly Slots Revenue Hits New High in Pennsylvania

July was the best month so far for slots revenues in Pennsylvania.  The state’s newest casino gets much of the credit. If you take away the Sugar House Casino, which opened in September 2010, slots revenues for the 9 other casinos in Pennsylvania were actually down 3.5% last month.  With the Philadelphia casino added, July slot machine revenue was the single highest month to date, up almost 3.5% over last July.

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach says the Sugar House Casino continues to improve its numbers since coming on line last year, and that has boosted numbers across the state.  July’s total slots revenue was over $218 million, which translates to over $118 million in tax revenue.

Six of the other nine casinos were down compared to July 2010, and only three reported increases in slots revenue for the month.  Harrah’s Chester Casino and Parx Casino, those closest to the new Sugar House Casino, saw the biggest declines in revenue from slots compared to last July. Harrah’s was down 16.2%   and Parx was off 9.2% from the previous July.  Harbach says some impact was expected as the market continued to mature.

Meanwhile, Harbach says they’re not seeing much, if any impact from the two casinos that have opened in Maryland.  He says that market is still growing. One casino is in a county bordering Pennsylvania, Cecil County.  The other is near the Ocean City resort area.

Harbach says revenues are not the only thing going up at Pennsylvania’s casinos.  He says they’ve seen an uptick in the number of jobs at the casinos with the continued growth of revenue.

Table games revenue figures are released separately.


Debt Deal Finalized, Pennsylvanians Upset With Both Parties

Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) voted against the debt deal.

With the threat of a historic financial default hanging over their heads, a last minute plan emerged that was able to garner the support of President Barack Obama and a majority of Congress.  It allows for a $2-trillion dollar increase in the nation’s debt limit, in exchange for $2-trillion dollars in cuts over the next ten years.  Many of the long-term cuts hinge on a bipartisan “super committee,” which is tasked with identifying $1.5-trillion dollars in cuts by November 23rd.

Citing the $14.3-trillion dollars in debt the nation has already amassed, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) was a “No” vote.  “What we need to do is clear.  We need to cut spending now, we need to put controls on spending in the future and we need to ensure accountability.  I’m afraid this deal comes up short on all accounts,” Toomey said in a recorded statement. 

Bob Casey (D-PA)

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) voted for the debt deal.

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) supported the measure.  “No compromise is perfect and the process that has brought the country to the brink of default is unconscionable,” Casey said in an earlier statement.  Over in the House, 18 of the 19 Pennsylvania representatives supported the debt deal.  Congressman Mike Doyle (D-14th) voted “No.” 

A new Quinnipiac Poll – which was wrapping up as President Obama announced a debt deal Sunday night – finds that Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly disapprove of Congress, on both sides of the aisle.  “My sense is that this is an overwhelming indictment of Congress right now.  From Democrats and Republicans, Pennsylvanians are clearly tired of this raucous debate and want to get on with business,” Quinnipiac pollster Tim Malloy said in an interview with Radio PA. 

Tuesday’s poll finds that two-thirds of PA voters disapprove of the job Republicans and Democrats are doing in Congress.  By a 44 – 37 margin, Pennsylvanians believe President Obama acted more responsibly than Congressional Republicans in the debt ceiling debate.  However, a majority (52%) now say Obama does not deserve a second term.

Governor Tom Corbett’s Next Appearance Moved to Tuesday, August 9th

    Governor Tom Corbett’s next appearance on “Ask the Governor” has been moved up two days to Tuesday, August 9th. Watch for video clips on Marcellus Shale issues, transportation funding and a host of other topics as we continue our monthly series with the governor.

    Submit your question today right here at


Pennsylvania State Police Get High Marks from Feds for Motor Carrier Safety Data

Pennsylvania’s motor carrier inspectors conducted more than 93,000 random truck inspections last year, a 14% increase from the previous year.  State troopers also checked motor coaches and inspected 28,000 school buses across the state.  Their efforts earned them the highest marks for providing timely and accurate information to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Pennsylvania State Police spokesman Sergeant Anthony Manetta says inspectors discovered more than 88,000 safety violations last year.  He says these ranged from equipment violations, such as issues with the brakes, to violations with the log books that drivers are required to keep.

Sgt. Manetta says they have trained state troopers who go out and conduct inspections, as well as specialized motor carrier inspectors. He says they also conduct safety inspections on school buses before the beginning of the school year, as required by state law.

Transportation Funding Report Released

Transportation Funding Advisory Commission Final Report

The TFAC report includes funding recommendations, a litany of modernization ideas and a 10-year vision of strategic investment.

The five year funding plan, outlined in the final report, could generate an additional $2.5-billion dollars in annual transportation funding.   The report indicates that the governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC) was directed not to consider hiking the gas tax, leasing the turnpike, or assumed federal aid. 

With those ideas off-the-table, the ultimate funding recommendations focused on adjusting driver and vehicle fees for inflation, uncapping the wholesale tax that oil companies pay and increasing fines that get funneled into the Motor License Fund. 

“It’s a very fair plan because it doesn’t focus all of the costs on one segment of the motoring public,” said Bob Latham, Executive Vice President of Associated PA Constructors, and one of 40-members on the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission.  “What it does seek to do is to start down that path, and increase funding gradually over a period of five years.  So you won’t see a major impact to highway users, whether they’re commercial users or personal motorists.” 

The impact on the typical driver – assuming no speeding tickets or other infractions – would be about $36-additional dollars in year one.  By year five, it could be up to $132 dollars.  But, PennDOT has said those are conservative estimates, based on all of the additional oil company tax revenue being passed onto consumers.  The report does point out that TFAC is “deeply aware” of the need to minimize the burden on taxpayers.  A few pages later it reads, “TFAC believes it is Pennsylvania’s best combination of options for aligning revenue with funding needs.” 

Nearly all of the major recommendations would require some sort of legislative action.  “Who knows, after the governor looks at it, what it’s going to look like when it goes to the legislature.  Then, who knows what it’s going to look like after they have a chance to look at it,” said Jim Runk, President of the PA Motor Truck Association, and another member of the 40-member panel. 

Runk was a bit leery when he was first appointed to the commission, but the feeling quickly faded.  “I think after the first hour or so I was pleasantly surprised that a group that large, and with so many different backgrounds, was able to come together and talk about the issues that are important to Pennsylvania.”