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Service cut makes Elk Co. ‘maternity care desert’

Plus, the stolen Jágr bobbleheads make their way home

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A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Tanisha Thomas

Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Today: Rural gap, Luzerne concerns, bridge collapse, crash chemicals, age of Alzheimer’s, climate claim, and a Philly wrestling deep dive.
Penn Highlands Elk plans to end its labor and delivery services in May, a closure that will make Elk County the sixth in the region without a hospital or another facility delivering babies. 

Affected patients will be referred to Penn Highlands DuBois, a facility with 24-hour labor coverage and a 16-bed neonatal intensive care unit.

In private meetings, Penn Highland has said the sole OB-GYN in Elk County had too high of a workload.

Residents are encouraging lawmakers to stop the closure and asking for alternative solutions. They fear the decision will endanger people traveling to give birth and deter workers from moving to the area. 

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Penn Highlands Elk maternal care cuts highlight Pa.’s widening rural services gap

"Right now I don't think anyone's thoughts are on how cargo is going to land. It's more so on rescuing and supporting rescue workers on the scene."

Ryan Mulvey, director of government and public affairs for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, on vessels possibly diverting to the port following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

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TRUSTING ELECTIONS: Join us Tuesday, April 2, at 6 p.m. ET on Zoom for a live panel Q&A with Al Schmidt, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of State, on creating trust in our election system and combatting misinformation. Register here and submit questions here or to events@spotlightpa.org

Crocuses at Quittie Creek Nature Park, Annville, PA, via Beth B. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
purple flowers next to trees and scattered sticks
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.TURNOVER TOLL: The Guardian profiles the acting director of elections for Luzerne County, where staff turnover has contributed to high-profile mistakes in recent years. The county’s staffing issues reflect a statewide problem among Pennsylvania election workers, who have faced threats and harassment since 2020. As the county prepares for the 2024 election, the director hopes regular public communication and transparency will sow trust with voters. 

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.

PENALTY BILL: A bill proposing restitution options for victims of voter intimidation is moving through the Pennsylvania House, the Daily Item reports. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Stephen Kinsey (D., Philadelphia), would allow victims to sue anyone convicted of such a crime in civil court for punitive damages, court costs, and attorney fees. According to Kinsey, 14 states have similar protections. 

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.HELP NEEDED: More than 282,000 Pennsylvanians age 65 or up have Alzheimer's, according to a new Alzheimer's Association report, and the number of Americans with the disease is expected to jump from 6.9 million to 12.7 million by 2050. The report projects that the number of geriatricians practicing in Pennsylvania must double by then to keep up with demand. And the number of personal and home care aides must grow as well. 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.HEALTH STUDY: Pitt scientists will study how chemical exposures from last year's train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, affected health in the area, the Beaver County Times reports. Researchers will collect health information within an 8-mile radius of the crash. The study, which is funded by federal grants, will particularly look for signs of liver dysfunction, one of the potential side effects of a chemical that spilled on the site.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.CLIMATE LAWSUIT: Bucks County is suing several oil companies, alleging they lied to residents about the impact of fossil fuels on the climate, the AP reports. The lawsuit says the county experienced severe weather as a result of the industry's actions and seeks compensation to mitigate damage. Bucks County is the first local government in Pennsylvania to sue the industry.
ROUGH AIR: Harrisburg and Lancaster landed high on a World Health Organization list of the American cities with the worst average air quality in 2023, Axios reports. 

PUBLIC LAND: Pennsylvania’s last privately-owned mountain is now public following a nonprofit buying it and deeding it to the state, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. 

MURDER MOVIE: A film adaptation of a book about the 1969 murder of a mining union organizer in Pennsylvania is in the works and will star actor Cillian Murphy. 

CASE CLOSED: The Pittsburgh Penguins got their stolen Jaromir Jágr bobbleheads back and plan to give them away at home games next month. 

WRESTLING ERA: Ahead of Philadelphia hosting WrestleMania in April, BillyPenn explores the city’s scene during the 90s.
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Yesterday's answer: Anathema

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