Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - January 18, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania
World: OPEC leaders ratify cut in oil production C Life: Snow White on ice skating into Johnstown DI131 2 (3 6
■ Lottery numbers, A2
Cloudy, chance of snow, 34°
■ Forecast, C3
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Up and coming
A jury will begin deciding today if a Reading man is guilty of pushing his ex-girlfriend’s car in front of a train and killing her and three others.PAGE A12
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
/ohn Lukens of Lawruk Builder Inc. in Altoona paints a partition ceiling in the ballroom at the Blair County Convention Center. The Blair County Convention Center and Sports Facility Authority met Wednesday to discuss the progress of construction on the center. / Page AIQ
From Mirror staff and wire reports
WASHINGTON — Methadone clinics must be accredited in a manner similar to other health facilities, say new government rules intended to improve quality of treatment for heroin addiction.
Under the rules, published Wednesday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, clinics that distribute methadone and other addiction-treating medication must tailor therapy to addicts’ differing needs, provide more physi
cian supervision and take other steps proving quality.
‘‘We want to promote state-of-the-art treatment services,” said Dr. H. Westley Clark, the agency’s substance abuse treatment chief.
Until now, methadone clinics have been inspected by the Food and Drug Administration, but those inspections were widely criticized as inadequate, and the FDA is quitting them.
Instead, SAMHSA will contract with private organizations — the one that accredits hospitals is a candidate — to inspect clinics and
report which ones meet new government quality standards. Clinics will have two years to comply. SAMHSA is part of the Health and Human Services Department.
Methadone, a synthetic narcotic, has been used for more than 30 years to treat heroin addiction by suppressing withdrawal symptoms and curbing craving.
A plan to place a methadone facility in Ebensburg was put on hold in 1999, but by 2003, most area counties must implement a state project called Healthchoices, which includes methadone treatment.
Please see Scam/Page A3
Eichelberger, Shuster continue trading jabs
State could nix class size limits
By Jay Young
The waiver exempting the Altoona Area School District from special education class size restrictions would become obsolete under a proposal being considered today.
The Pennsylvania Board of Education will consider eliminating a law that limits the number of special education students who can be in a class with one teacher.
The mandate often is criticized by school districts, which can be forced to add a full-time position if a class size exceeds the limit by one student.
While the proposed Chapter 14 law still would limit the case load of each teacher, administrators could determine class size by
assessing the effectiveness of their programs.
The Altoona Area School District is exempt from the law after the Department of Education granted a waiver last year.
The one-year waiver under the Education Empowerment Act enables the district to exceed class size limitations without penalty.
In return, Altoona agreed to assess closely the program to make sure the education of the children isn’t being compromised.
The waiver was opposed strongly last year by numerous parents of special education children. Altoona district administrators said they don’t have the money to meet the requirement.
Please see Limits/Page A6
New rules require accreditation of methadone treatment centers
Accused con man jailed on charges
■ The Hollidaysburg resident is accused of stealing from women with confidence scam.
By Walt Frank
A Hollidaysburg man is being held in the Dauphin County Prison after being charged with operating what Lower Paxton Township police call a “sweetheart confidence scam.”
Thomas Paul Donahue, 47, 330 Mulberry St., Apt. 3C, was charged with five counts of theft by deception, four counts of forgery and five counts of receiving stolen property, said Sgt. Dick Toth of the Lower Paxton Township Police Department. He is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
_ Donahue also
I Donahue was arrested on a
I warrant issued by
I Altoona police, Chief John Treese I said.
I Donahue was charged by
I Altoona police with one count
I each of theft by deception, receiv-
I ing stolen property and forgery.
I Donahue allegedly stole a num-
I ber of blank checks from a girl-
I ( friend he was living with, made I J out one check to himself for $478 I and forged the girlfriend’s name
pl | on the check, Treese said. The
I check was cashed Dec. 6 at the ARC Federal Credit Union.
I In the Lower Paxton case,
I Donahue was staying at a local
I hotel and used a taxi service on a
I regular basis with one female dri-
■ ver, Toth said.
I He always called for that driver,
I treated her very well and tipped
I her well for her services — all
I being a ploy to gain her confi-
■ dence, Toth said.
I “He picks on vulnerable women
who aren’t very attractive and wines and dines them,” Toth said. “They fall for this.”
On Christmas Day, Donahue called the driver. Since he was alone at the hotel, she invited him for dinner with her family.
The woman’s confidence had been secured, and Donahue hinted ! I about wanting a romantic relationship. Within a day, Donahue and the woman began to discuss finances.
Donahue told the woman he could not get any checks cashed in the Harrisburg area since he was from the Altoona area.
Heart-care clinic will close down
By William Kibler
A heart-care clinic started by Altoona Hospital two years ago is closing.
The hospital will shut down its Congestive Heart Failure Clinic by the end of the year, forcing its 125 patients to rely on their family doctors to manage their progressive illnesses.
If patients and their doctors are vigilant, they should be able to get care that is just as good, hospital officials said, but at least some patients are distressed.
The clinic gave Lynne Rice of Tyrone hope she didn’t have before, Rice said in a letter to the hospital she shared with the Mirror.
“I entered the clinic quite frightened and anxious and left with a positive and new outlook on life,” Rice said. “[They] have saved my life.”
Managing disease was the buzz when the hospital started the clinic, hospital spokesman Rick Reeves said.
Health maintenance organizations liked the idea of clinics to do the managing. Clinics would replace expensive hours billed by doctors with less expensive ones charged by people such as nurse practitioners and with careful
CENTER FOR MEDICINE
adjustments to medication and diet that would minimize expensive trips to the emer
The problem is, the HMOs didn’t reimburse the hospital or the doctors that the clinic consulted.
“It turned out to be a one-way street,” Reeves said.
The hospital has been trying to cut costs because it is running a deficit caused by the federal government’s progressive cutbacks of Medicare reimbursements and low HMO reimbursements.
It’s not surprising that the HMOs didn’t support the clinic because they are losing money too, Reeves said.
Rice doesn’t appreciate the financial argument, especially with the hospital in the midst of a project that could lead to it becoming a trauma center.
“The message is that we are not moneymakers for the facility, and so therefore the service will be abolished and we are to be cast off into a comer and left,” she wrote.
Please see Clinic/Page AIQ
By Robert Igoe Staff Writer It’s not exactly the Hatfields and McCoys, but the Shuster-Eichelberger feud is taking center stage in what promises to be a competitive and contentious race for the Pennsylvania 9th District seat in the U.S. House.
On Wednesday, the two sides continued to fire salvos at each other with dueling press releases and media conferences.
It started with retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster
calling Blair County GOP Chairman John Eichelberger Jr.’s contention that Shuster is trying to force Republican officials into supporting his son’s run for his soon-to-be-vacant seat “a baldfaced lie.” Eichelberger responded by alleging that Shuster’s retirement was part of an orchestrated plan to take the decision about who will be the Republican nominee for the seat out of the hands of the voters and put it in the hands of “a select group of people.”
Please see Jabs/Page A3
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
John Eichelberger Jr. speaks about his feud with the Shusters at a press conference.