Subscribe to this e-update.
Senator Wayne D. Fontana

In the wake of the verdict in the case of the police officer who shot and killed Antwon Rose II, I believe the most important question we are left with is “how do we prevent another young person from dying?”

I will be the first to admit that I do not have all the answers to that question, but what I do know is that we must perform a review of current laws and policies and remain open to having a meaningful conversation about what changes need to be made with regard to the use of deadly force by police, police education and training and the regionalization of smaller, municipal departments. I honestly believe that if any positive can be found in the aftermath of Antwon’s death, it’s that policy makers should push for updated policing procedures that keep our neighborhoods safe while tightening measures that must be met while pursuing suspects.

Finally, we find ourselves in another situation where access to guns and resulting gun violence ended in tragedy. Whether it’s deadly force by police or guns unlawfully in the hands of the community, we are caught in an ongoing cycle of violence in our communities. This cannot stand. Without addressing this epidemic, my fear is that we will continue mourning the loss of more of our young citizens in the future. That is unacceptable. 

Senator Fontana joins Senator Maria Collett and Representative Gene DiGirolamo Announce Legislation to Set Safe Nurse-To-Patient Limits

Safe Nurse-to-Patient Ratios

Last week I joined Senator Maria Collett, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP), and Nurses of Pennsylvania to advocate for Senate Bill 450 (SB 450).  This legislation would set the minimum ratio of nurses-to-patients in the commonwealth’s hospitals.  Not only does this bill raise awareness of problems nurses face in our state but would also increase patient safety while helping to alleviate the astronomical costs to hospitals when faced with malpractice claims. 

The following are the nurse-to-patient ratios specified for direct care registered nurses under SB 450:

  • 1:2 for an intensive care unit
  • 1:2 for a critical care unit
  • 1:2 for a neonatal intensive care unit
  • 1:2 for a burn unit
  • 1:3 for a step-down, intermediate care unit
  • An operating room shall have at least one direct care registered nurse assigned to the duties of the circulating registered nurse and a minimum of one additional person as a scrub assistant for each patient-occupied operating room
  • 1:2 in the post anesthesia recovery unit regardless of the type of anesthesia the patient received
  • 1:1 for patients receiving conscious sedation
  • 1:4 for an emergency department
  • 1:2 for critical care patients in the emergency department
  • Only direct care registered nurses shall be assigned to critical trauma patients in the emergency department and a 1:1 ratio shall be maintained at all times
  • 1:1 in the labor and delivery suit of prenatal services for active labor patients and patients with medical or obstetrical complications
  • 1:1 at all times for initiating epidural anesthesia and circulation for cesarean delivery
  • 1:2 for immediate postpartum
  • 1:3 for antepartum patients who are not in active labor
  • 1:3 in postpartum area of the prenatal service
  • In the event of cesarean delivery, the total number of mothers plus infants assigned to a single direct care registered nurse shall never exceed four
  • In the event of multiple births, the total number of mothers plus infants assigned to a single direct care registered nurse shall not exceed six
  • 1:4 for postpartum areas in which the direct care registered nurse’s assignment consist of mothers only
  • 1:4 for postpartum women or postsurgical gynecological patients
  • 1:5 for well baby nursery
  • 1:1 for unstable newborns and those in the resuscitation period
  • 1:4 for recently born infants
  • 1:3 for pediatrics
  • 1:3 for telemetry
  • 1:4 for medical/surgical
  • 1:4 for presurgical and admissions units or ambulatory surgical units
  • 1:4 for other specialty units
  • 1:4 for psychiatric units
  • 1:5 for rehabilitation units or skilled nursing facilities

Whistleblower protections have also been put in place under SB 450 that prohibit a hospital or health care facility from discharging from their duties or otherwise retaliate against a direct care registered nurse or other health care professional responsible for patient care who reports unsafe practices or violations of the policies, regulations, rules or law.  Furthermore, a hospital may not impose mandatory overtime requirements to meet the staffing ratios that are imposed. 

Inadequate nurse staffing levels are associated with higher levels of hospital-acquired infections, patient mortality, and readmissions.  A patient has the right to enter a hospital with the peace of mind knowing that they have their nurse’s full attention and are being provided with the best care.  In fact, other states that have enacted similar laws have experienced better health outcomes from the increase in nursing staff. 

Just like Pennsylvania mandates that we have so many professionals caring for a certain number of children in a child care facility, the commonwealth also needs to specify what is adequate staffing for the different levels of care received at a hospital.  Because when nurses have the resources they need to provide the appropriate attention, the results are patients leave the hospital much healthier.

Did You Know…

Did you know that only 14 states currently have laws or regulations addressing nurse staffing in hospitals?

Upcoming Job Fair

Job FairThis Thursday, March 28, with Rep. Dan Deasy and in partnership with PA Career Link and Building Bridges for Business, we will be hosting a Job Fair for any interested job seekers.  The Job Fair is being held in the Social Hall at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, located at 1810 Belasco Avenue in Beechview from 4 – 7 p.m.

The Job Fair will feature local companies looking to fill positions now.  There will also be representatives in attendance to talk about apprenticeships and other technical training programs to help individuals gain information on acquiring new skills to become gainfully employed.

If you are looking for work or are interested in potential apprenticeships or other technical training, please consider attending this Job Fair.  If you have family or friends who may be interested, please share this information with them.

PHFA Launches Informational Podcast Series for Consumers

Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) recently announced it has launched three new informational podcasts intended to help consumers. One, called “Close to Home,” will offer practical, easy-to-understand advice for people in the market to purchase a home. The second, “Master Your Money,” will provide insights people can use to better manage their personal finances. The third series, called “PHFA Update,” will cover a variety of housing topics to benefit homebuyers, homeowners and renters.

The Close to Home series has already posted three podcasts on the topics of understanding closing costs, homebuyer counseling options, and homebuying readiness. The show’s homebuying expert is Coleen Baumert, PHFA’s director of homeownership. Baumert has worked in the housing field for more than 14 years. 

The Master Your Money series has posted three podcasts so far. They introduce listeners to the subject of personal money management and cover concepts like maximizing your earnings and making your money work for you. The topic expert for that program is Holly Zugay, PHFA’s financial education officer. Zugay has nearly 20 years of experience in the financial education field, including her current work providing financial education for former inmates and incarcerated veterans. Last fall, Zugay was selected by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education as its 2018 Financial Educator of the Year.

The PHFA Update podcast was created to cover other housing topics outside the subjects of homebuying and money management. For example, the first show in this series is about the agency’s foreclosure prevention program, known as HEMAP, and provides guidance for people about how to apply for assistance if they are falling behind on their mortgage.

All three podcasts will be hosted by PHFA employee Renae Garofolo, who works in the agency’s communications division and has a background as a radio DJ. Garofolo is a strong advocate for the use of podcasting to educate consumers about housing issues that affect their lives.

A new podcast will be posted for each program every few weeks. The podcasts generally run less than ten minutes – a length that is convenient for people to fit into their daily schedules. Listeners interested in these new podcasts can access them on the agency’s website at www.PHFA.org. Once on the homepage, look for the podcast link at the top-left corner of your screen. All three PHFA podcasts can also be accessed on iTunes, Spotify and other podcast apps.

Gaming Revenue

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced recently that revenue generated from table games in Pennsylvania increased 0.3 percent in February compared with February 2018.  Revenue from table games in February totaled nearly $74 million, an increase from last February’s table games revenue of more than $200,000.  Tax revenue from table games in February totaled more than $11.8 million.

Combined with slot machine revenue, overall gaming revenue in February rose 0.4 percent compared to February 2018.

Additionally, the Gaming Control Board reported its February Sports Wagering Report. The report encompasses the full month returns from:

  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
  • SugarHouse Casino
  • Rivers Casino
  • Parx Casino
  • South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia

The monthly report provides a breakdown of the total handle collected, gross revenue, and taxes paid to the Commonwealth. Future reports will include additional facilities as they launch sportsbooks including Valley Forge Casino Resort and Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook which each opened in March.

Casino

Handle

Revenue

Tax

Rivers Casino

$8,147,559

$627,521

$225,908

SugarHouse Casino

$7,091,933

$522,308

$188,031

Parx Casino

$6,965,512

$369,996

$133,199

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course

$3,742,820

$13,914

$5,009

Harrah’s Philadelphia

$2,951,267

$137,201

$49,392

South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook

$2,601,651

$275,877

$99,316

Statewide Total

$31,500,742

$1,946,816

$700,854

Tax revenue generated:

  • State Tax (34% of adjusted gross revenue):                        $661,918
  • Local Share Assessment (2% of adjusted gross revenue):     $38,936

The state’s gaming industry employs about 17,000 people and generates approximately $1.4 billion annually in tax revenue from both slot machines and table games.  For more information on gaming in Pennsylvania and to read reports from the Gaming Control Board, please visit them online at www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.

Governor’s Awards for The Arts Nominations

The Pennsylvania Council on The Arts invites you to submit nominations for the 2019 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Governor’s Awards for the Arts.  The deadline for nominations is April 8.

Pennsylvania Council on the ArtsThe Governor’s Awards for the Arts are a Pennsylvania tradition, inaugurated in May of 1980, and represent the commonwealth’s highest recognition for contributions in the arts. The honorees reflect the excellence and variety of Pennsylvania’s cultural landscape and the awards pay tribute to the commonwealth’s rich arts and cultural achievements. The 2019 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for the Arts will be presented in a public state ceremony in Pittsburgh on September 27.

Recipients are selected from nominations that are reviewed and recommended by an advisory panel and will be notified following their selection and must agree to receive the award in person. There are four award categories: Distinguished Arts Award; Creative Industries Award; Arts Leadership & Service; and Artist of the Year (The Hazlett Memorial Award).

Nominations can be made online by clicking here or visiting www.arts.pa.gov and multiple nominations may be submitted. Do not submit the same nominee/nomination in multiple categories, as the advisory panel will make the final determination of the appropriate category for the nominee. Individuals may not self-nominate but may nominate an organization for which they work. Generally, posthumous nominations will not be considered.  Further questions regarding the nomination process can be directed to Norah Johnson at norajohnso@pa.gov or 717-525-5549.

Seton Center Open HouseSeton Center

The Elizabeth Seton Center is hosting an informational Open House for Adult Day Services on Saturday, April 6 from 1 -4 p.m. Elizabeth Seton Center is located at 1900 Pioneer Avenue in Brookline. Guests are invited to tour the facility, learn more about Seton Center’s Adult Day Services program, what services they offer and about Intergenerational programming. For more information, please contact Judy Gawlas at 412-344-4777 or visit www.setoncenter.com.

Toast of the Rox

Toast of the RoxThe Greater McKees Rocks Area Rotary Club is hosting their annual Toast of the Rox, this Sunday, March 31 from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. The community French toast breakfast will be held at the Kenendy Township Fire Hall, located at 1769 Pine Hollow Road. A ticket includes one all-you-can-eat breakfast.  There will also be a cash bar. 

Tickets can be purchased at Nationwide Insurance in Kenmawr Plaza in Kennedy Township.  More information is available by calling 412-771-6781.  All proceeds benefit the Greater McKees Rocks Area Rotary community charity organizations.

Fontana Fact

It was on this date in 1945 that U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment of the 5th Division raised the American flag after winning the Battle for Iwo Jima, during World War II. More than 6,000 Americans died taking Iwo Jima and more than 17,000 were wounded.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
1039 Brookline Boulevard
Suite 2
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
Harrisburg
543 Main Capitol | Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plaza
524 Pine Hollow Road
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. – First Tuesday of each month or by appointment