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Reid locked down briefly after domestic dispute

Authorities temporarily locked down Reid Elementary School around dismissal time on Tuesday, April 15 after a domestic dispute involving two parents of a student had occurred in the community, according to a spokeswoman for the Middletown Area School District.

The lockdown ended after about five minutes when one of the parents was apprehended by police as he drove through the front entrance to the school district's Lower Swatara Twp. campus where Reid is located, the spokeswoman said.

The lockdown was a precaution – no confrontation occurred at the school, and students eventually were dismissed "in the normal fashion,'' the spokeswoman said.

Police advised the district to lock down the school because one of the parents was at the school building and the other was close by, the spokeswoman said.

Parents received an automated message notifying them about the lockdown as well as the lifting of the lockdown.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 18:43

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State board temporarily suspends license of Steelton doctor

The State Board of Medicine has temporarily suspended the license of a Steelton doctor for unsafe practices, charging she failed to properly disinfect and sterilize equipment.

Maryjo Szada, whose office is located at 151 South Front St., was temporarily barred from practicing medicine after the board determined continued practice "presents an immediate danger to the public health and safety," according to an order of temporary suspension and a petition supporting the order filed Wednesday, April 9 at the Department of State.

The suspension follows a joint investigation by the State Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI) and the state Department of Health that determined Szada failed to properly disinfect and sterilize equipment, did not properly store and label samples and specimens, and kept minimal records, instead "relying on memory to treat her patients," according to the filed documents.

A preliminary hearing by the board or the state Office of Hearing Examiners will be scheduled within 30 days at a location designated by the board, the documents state. Szada can call witnesses, inspect evidence and offer testimony at that hearing. If the board rules in Szada's favor, her license would be immediately restored; if it rules against her, the temporary suspension will remain in effect until vacated by the board, in no event  longer than 180 days unless otherwise ordered by the board or agreed to by the participants.

During the investigation, BEI found five specimens – one STD test, three pap smears and one marked "right groin" – that had no identifying information on a table in Szada's examination room, the documents stateSZADA.

Szada said she was unsure what patients the samples came from, the documents state.

An investigator also discovered seven dirty metal speculums in a sink in Szada's office, and Szada allegedly admitted they had been there for about a week, the documents state.

Szada told investigators she uses Amphyl and Cidex to sterilize medical instruments, and Lysol liquid floor cleaner and Lysol spray to disinfect equipment, including vaginal speculums, the documents state.

Both Amphyl and Lysol do not meet the minimum standards of high-level disinfection for semi-critical instruments as set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, according to investigators.

Szada, a Steelton Borough Council member, does not have an autoclave, a device used to sterilize equipment, in her office, and there was information that suggests Szada has been disinfecting equipment with Lysol for at least a year, the documents state.

The Department of Health made recommendations to Szada to discontinue gynecological examinations and informed Szada that her sterilization procedures were a violation of infection control standards in a series of letters and also provided recommendations for infectious disease control procedures to become compliant with minimum CDC standards.

Her records also failed to meet minimum record keeping requirements, according to the documents.

A note on the front window at Szada's office reads, "We are TEMPORARILY CLOSED until further notice."

As part of the suspension order, Szada has been required to surrender her wallet card, registration certificate and wall certificate to representatives of the BEI or the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs immediately, the documents state.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 16:56

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In Steelton, drinking water violations ignite fears, concern

 

More than 50 residents packed Steelton Borough Council’s chambers on Monday, April 7, many concerned about potential health dangers they suspect were caused by drinking water violations by the Steelton Borough Water Authority in 2013.tinyangryresidents4 9 14Photo by Noelle Barrett - Kristen Tate addresses Steelton Borough Council during a meeting on Monday, April 7.

 

The standing-room-only crowd, which spilled out into the hallway, hoped to get answers. Instead, many questions were left unresolved, and the meeting ended after 51 minutes when Council President Jeffery Wright pounded his gavel and asked for a motion to adjourn in the midst of a shouting match.

 

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced on April 2 that the Steelton Borough Water Authority was fined $55,200 as part of a consent order and agreement with DEP to address drinking water violations that occurred last year.

 

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 21:53

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Council to investigate official’s conduct

Middletown Borough’s solicitor will conduct an investigation into the conduct of a Middletown Borough Authority member who verbally berated a resident at an authority meeting on Thursday, April 3. 

Borough Council voted 8-1 on Monday, April 7 to have its solicitor investigate the exchange between authority member Robert Louer Jr. and resident Dawn Knull.

 

At the meeting, Knull addressed concerns she had regarding the upcoming construction for Middletown’s downtown infrastructure project and proposed traffic detours down Wood and State streets. She asked what would be done to make sure children at play would be safe, and whether jake brakes from passing trucks would disturb homes in that neighborhood. 

 

“You’re taking a state road and putting it down into a residential area with a lot of kids that are playing,” Knull explained to council. “I just wanted to make sure that, on this detour, there were going to be signs posted.”

 

Eventually, Louer snapped back at Knull and other residents in attendance who had similar concerns.

 

“Why are you’ns here doing this? Don’t you think we care about these kids in doing this stuff?” he asked. “You’re standing here giving us a ration of--’’

 

“I am not giving you a ration of shit,’’ Knull replied. “I’m asking you if you’re going to do it.’’

 

“Yes, you are,’’ Louer yelled. “You’re just a pain in the ass.’’

 

Knull told council that his response rattled her a bit. “Oh, bite me,’’ she told Louer.

 

“Yeah, figures,’’ he replied.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 20:58

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Steelton authority fined by state for drinking water violations in 2013

The Steelton Borough Water Authority was fined $55,200 as part of a consent order and agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to address drinking water violations that occurred last year, DEP announced on Wednesday, April 2.

There are no ongoing health risks as a result of the violations, according to a press release issued by DEP.

The following violations were discovered after DEP conducted an evaluation and sanitary inspection on Nov. 20:

• The water authority failed to provide adequate disinfection of Giardia lamblia, an organism commonly found in surface water that can cause disease, for at least 24 days in 2013, and didn't report the failure.

• The water authority failed to record filtered water turbidity levels, a measurement of the cloudiness of the water and indicates water quality, for 108 separate days in 2013

• The water authority's chief operator falsely reported to DEP in August, September and October 2013 that filtered water turbidity had been recorded and the readings were all acceptable

• The water authority operated several modifications to the facilities without a Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) permit.

“Upon discovery of these violations, DEP notified Steelton Borough Water Authority who responded promptly and appropriately,” said Lynn Langer, DEP South-central regional director, in a press release. “Since then, Steelton has been working with DEP on resolving the violations and has been carefully monitoring the situation to protect public health.”

During a press conference on Friday, April 4, Borough Manager Sara Gellatly said the borough is sorry for what happened, and that Steelton has taken the necessary steps to address the issues and prevent future problems – including terminating the water filtration plant chief operator.

Borough Council voted 6-0 to fire Dan Scheitrum, the borough's sole water filtration plant superintendent/chief operator, during a meeting on Monday, March 17 after a lengthy executive session. At the time, the borough would not give a reason for the vote.

Scheitrum was hired as a plant operator in 2001 and served as chief operator since 2005, and was earning a $61,000 salary at the time of his termination. Gellatly said council voted to terminate Scheitrum based on a recommendation by the water authority.

"The recording requirements were the responsibility of our chief operator," Gellatly said at the April 4 press conference. "The [borough water] authority and [Steelton Borough] council immediately retained a new chief operator in March."

Mark Handley, who worked for the borough prior to Scheitrum's termination, will be employed as the new chief operator.

Gellatly said Handley "has more than the necessary licenses and qualifications" for the position.

According to a press release by DEP, the water authority is required to implement several corrective actions to address the violations, including the following:

• submit all documentation necessary to obtain required operation permits

• create protocol for conducting a filter performance study

• revise its Emergency Response Plan and Operation and Maintenance Plan to include an updated procedure for issuing public notices

• use a method to accurately calculate the inactivation of Giardia

Gellatly said the water is safe to drink.

"Residents do not need to boil water or use bottled water now, because the problem has been corrected," she said.

The water authority is required to pay the $55,200 fine in four $13,800 quarterly payments, and has already submitted the first payment to DEP.

"While this will affect the authority financially, the authority would like residents to know that our customers will not receive an increase in their water bills,'' Gellatly said.

Instead, the authority has put other projects on hold for the next year in order to cover the cost of the fine.

If the borough fails to complete the corrective actions, it will incur additional civil penalties, according to DEP's press release.

DEP has conducted weekly inspections of the facilities since January, and will continue to do so until "the department is satisfied that Steelton Water Authority is providing adequate treatment," the release said.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 April 2014 16:19

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