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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 7, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania INSIDE TODAY alif SENIORS Couples recognized as volunteers at Altoona Hospital. / 'Rf r INSIDE __Curve    win,    return    to    Altoona    for    seven-game homestand. /_ LIFE: A list of dos and don’ts in a survival guide for expectant fathers. / DIAltoona Mirror © Copyright 2001MONDAY, MAY 7, 2001 50^ newsstandmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ■ mm Our . shrinking * city IC .  _ suburbs Students learning to enjoy Altoona By William Kibler Staff Writer You know there’s a problem when city officials have to point out places of interest to junior high school kids on a bus tour through their own downtown. Can you imagine those kids would need to have the sights along the Pleasant Valley commercial strip pointed out to them? About 70 Roosevelt students toured the core of old Altoona last week as part of a program sponsored by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects to encourage youngsters to appreciate what’s left of their shrunken city and think about how to improve it. Why do you think no one’s using Heritage Plaza, tour leader and architect Judy Coutts asks of the kids on the bus, which had stopped in front of that outdoor gathering spot and centerpiece. “’Cause it’s downtown,” someone says, apparently not in jest. “’Cause no one comes downtown.” It’s certainly not true that no one comes downtown because about 2,000 people live there and 2,500 work there. But even if it’s well on its way to revival as advocates claim, ifs nothing like it was when Altoona — now with less than 50,000 people — had 80,000 in 1930, or even 45 years ago before the rush to Pleasant Valley. And it never will be, downtown boosters admit. But the final stop on the tour, the imposing former Mellon Bank across from the U.S. Post Office, was a reminder of past glory and also the potential that remains. It is no strip-mall bank branch. There are huge pillars and pediments; there’s marble, granite and brass, high decorated ceilings and a big open space that speaks of the financial might that once concentrated downtown. Please see Students/Page A4 ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES Mirror photos by J.D. Cavrich Brittany Grove, ll, of Southside Elementary School in the Huntingdon Area School District looks at a wood turtle. Where the wild things are By Linda Hudkins For the Mirror Huntingdon — Amy Prokop’s fifth-graders learned a lot about bugs, birds and scaly critters from a group of Juniata College students. The college students, working on a semesterlong project, developed a program at die Raystown Field Station to help youngsters learn about many different animals. Youngsters from Huntingdon Area School District’s Brady-Henderson and Southside elementary schools recently spent a day at the field station studying birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, macroinvertebrates and food webs. For those who aren’t as wellinformed as those fifth-graders, macroinvertebrates are bugs commonly referred to as trout food, and food webs are the interactions between all the animals, says Chuck Yohn, director of the field station that’s run by Juniata College in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers. The day was packed with activi- Brian Olsen, a senior at Juniata College, holds and talks about a white-throated sparrow. ties, he says, including 20 minutes at each of seven stops. “The kids all had hands-on experience,” Yohn says. “They enjoyed being able to learn more about science [in the field] compared to getting it from a textbook,” says Prokop, a teacher at Brady-Henderson. The students liked learning from enthusiastic young adult teachers, she says. Associate professor of education Ron Pauline says enthusiasm is a hallmark of Huntingdon’s education program. “One of the aspects of being a teacher is if you are enthusiastic, students will be enthusiastic,” he says. One particularly popular stop along the way created a game-show atmosphere in which the children handled things such as crayfish, answered questions and scored points. “They thought they were playing a game, but they were learning about amphibians,” Prokop says. Another favorite stop gave children an up-close and hands-on look at birds, the teacher says. Yohn says the children were introduced to the idea of capture-and-release. Prokop says the youngsters learned ways to capture specimens with nets so they don’t harm themselves or the live creatures. “They were handled with care.” At the end of the day, the students watched birds fly back into their own habitat where they could survive. Please see Wild/Page A4 PRESCRIPTION DRUGS Seniors’ plans to expand By Linda Hudkins For the Mirror Prescription medications save lives but paying for them — even with the help of ‘generous state programs — can wipe out a lifetime of savings. Just ask Susan Hunter of Tyrone, who’s mother sold her car to finance cancer treatments. “You have to give up everything you own if you get sick,” she says. A single, life-sustaining drug her mother needed cost $2,000 per month. Hunter says her mother was healthy and worked hard all her life, retired from a job, then got cancer. She ultimately received a medical card through public assistance to help with the costs, her daughter says, and that meant she had to sell her car. “She felt terrible because she always Had health insurance,” says Hunter, still mourning for her mother who died earlier this year. "It’s sad that you have to sell your life to get drugs to keep you alive.” Pennsylvanians fare better than the residents of half the states when it comes to getting help paying for prescription medications, state legislators say. But even so, they’re looking at ways to expand programs such as PACE and PACENET, which help the elderly pay for prescriptions. Dan Shea of Blair Senior Services is the local coordinator for the Apprise Program, which helps people understand how best to pay for prescriptions. Some routine medications, he says, would cost $75 to $100 per month. But programs such as PACE keep the cost at a level $6 each, he says. But he says he’s known people who legitimately take as many as 20 medications. At $6 each, that adds up to $120 per month — a pretty big bite out of a fixed income, he says. Some seniors fall through tlje cracks, Shea says. A person who retires at age 62 must wait three years to become eligible, and they only can buy into a health insurance program from their employer for half that time. Others have a bit too much money to be eligible even for PACENET, which covers married couples who earn a maximum of $17,200 per year. Albert Anderson of Cresson says he doesn’t use the state programs, opting instead for private insurance coverage. He’s not complaining about the cost: $40 per month for the prescription plan, a $250 deductible and 20 percent of the cost of each prescription. Some prescription medications can be very sophisticated and expensive, he says, acknowledging that research and development of new drugs takes a lot of investment capital. Pharmaceutical companies must cover their costs and earn their profits before patent rights expire, he says. Please see Seniors/Page A4 FOR HELP ■ Senior citizens who have problems paying for prescriptions can call Apprise Program at (800) 783-7067.Study finds nurses dissatisfied with jobs, concerned about patients By Bill Bergstrom The Associated Press PHILADELPHIA — Many acute care hospital nurses are frustrated to the point of burnout by what they said are inadequate numbers of nurses, rising patient loads, declining quality of patient care and even verbal abuse directed at them on the job, a new survey shows. One of every three U.S. nurses surveyed under age 30 planned to leave their jobs within the next year, according to the study released in the May-June issue of the health policy journal Health Affairs. More than 43 percent scored high on a “burnout inventory” used to measure emotional exhaustion and the extent to which they felt overwhelmed by their work. More than half said they had been subjected to verbal abuse. “A lot of people were saying to us that the equivalent of ‘ward rage’ was occurring in hospitals,” said Linda Aiken, director of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, which oversaw the survey of 43,329 registered nurses at 711 hospitals in five countries. More than 43 percent of nurses scored high on a ‘burnout inventory' used to measure emotional exhaustion and the extent to which they felt overwhelmed by their work. The verbal abuse came either from patients, family members or staff members frustrated because they feel “the situation is not within a reasonable level of control,” said Aiken, a professor of nursing and sociology. “The nurses receive the brunt of that frustration because they are the only professionals who are there around the clock.” Aiken said the hospitals need to offer personnel policies and benefits comparable to those in other businesses — such as better advancement, lifelong learning opportunities and flexible work schedules — if they are to retain qualified nurses, rather than rely on what she said were “popular short-term strategies such as signing bonuses and use of temporary personnel.” The American Hospital Association and its affiliated American Organization of Nurse Executives agree that “nurses have one of the toughest jobs in America,” said Pam Thompson, executive director of the nurse executives’ group. Improving working conditions is difficult because of shortages of people qualified for the jobs and DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 i ,l,,2291 0 00050    4 Kf    X BIO FOUR 4 0 0 % I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Mostly sunny, 67° ■ Forecast, A2 com HOT-ADS.c We re white-hot! 4 ...I I   „----- Altoona itlirror Call us today...Make money today. Ask for THE GREAT COMBINATION of and Phone (814) 946-7422 or fax us at (814) 946-7547_ A □ local Q NATION Business A7 Classifieds C3-10 Hospitals A9 I Obituaries A9 I r-i Opinion AS | 0* I J SPORTS j Comics D5 Community news D2 Local B4 Puzzles D4 Scoreboard B5 Television D4 I financial constraints on the healthcare industry    in general, Thompson said. “We are trying to take a limited amount of dollars and... looking at how to use those resources in the best way possible,” she said. The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of    Pennsylvania issued a report April ll saying nursing shortages were likely to persist and the problem is “complicated by the shaky financial condition of Pennsylvania’s hospitals and a broader range of job opportunities for all workers.” Please see Nurses/Page AIQ INSIDE A deep-rooted look at flowers PAGE D3 ;

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