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Physician Assistant Students Provide Care at Little League World Series

Physician Assistant students, faculty and staff provided 24-hour urgent-care coverage for baseball teams during the Little League World Series in South Williamsport.Twenty-seven students in the Physician Assistant Program at Pennsylvania College of Technology gained real-world experience while they served baseball teams 24 hours a day for 16 days during the recent Little League World Series in South Williamsport.

The students, who are juniors and seniors in the program, provided urgent care for players, coaches and their hosts, or “uncles,” from Aug. 15 to 30. They saw more than 200 patients while they manned the infirmary in International Grove – the residential area set aside for the baseball teams.

In addition to seeing patients for coughs, sore throats or cuts and bruises, this year the Physician Assistant students worked with state agencies when a baseball player from Taiwan came down with chicken pox. According to Susan Swank-Caschera, assistant professor in the Physician Assistant Program, four students helped to make phone calls to more than 200 parents worldwide to find out whether baseball players had been immunized or had already had chicken pox.

Those players, along with coaches, “uncles” and Little League employees who hadn’t been exposed, were offered a vaccine for the disease, which was administered by the students. Students who helped make the phone calls were Todd A. Husson, Svetlana Z. Rutgayzer, Jessica M. Whiting and Miriam J. Witmer. Student Yidrisca Vargas took time out of her office internship to do phone consultations with some of the Spanish-speaking players.

The students again worked with state agencies when a pinkeye (conjunctivitis) outbreak made its way through two teams.

On Aug. 17, when a driver pulled into the World Series complex with a passenger who was in full cardiac arrest, Swank-Caschera and student William E. Buckner helped paramedics to resuscitate the victim.

The students served 12-hour shifts, with seniors who are doing rotations in the field as part of their course work working day shifts and juniors working in the evenings, so their duty would not interfere with their class schedules. The students were paired with supervising physician assistants – all faculty members at Penn College.

For several years, a nurse was available in “The Grove” during the day, but there was no one to turn to if a player got ill during the evening. Last year, Little League asked Penn College faculty, staff and students to provide medical care in the infirmary at night. This year, Penn College’s Physician Assistant Program was asked to provide 24-hour coverage.

Swank-Caschera said that, through assisting at the Little League World Series, students gained unique experience in working with people who don’t speak English, and, this year, learned in hands-on fashion how to deal with contagious diseases, interfacing with outside agencies and providing screenings and immunizations.

“The other thing the students got used to was how to set up a medical clinic. How do you run a thing from start to finish?” Swank-Caschera said.

Physician Assistant students who served at the World Series were Kimberly A. Allen, Strong; Jonathan E. Baldwin, Williamsport; William E. Buckner, Elizabethtown; Jeffrey W. Chan, Williamsport; Mandy M. Collins, Coudersport; Nicole R. Confer, Bellefonte; Heather Suzanne Dorman, Picture Rocks; Melissa M. Fry, South Williamsport; Natalie Gabinskiy, Lock Haven; Jennifer E. Goodling, Seven Valleys; Todd A. Husson, West Reading; Jennifer L. Knadler, Tamaqua; Bruce W. Kreider, Lebanon; Jonathan D. Lehman, Williamsport; Whitney N. Lerch, Williamsport; Lucia L. Martarano, Bloomsburg; Glenn A. Miller Jr., DuBoistown; Ann M. Morrison, Shippensburg; Jennifer C. Reed, Hegins; Mark J. Rockwell, Linden; Svetlana Z. Rutgayzer, South Williamsport; Girma M. Semru, Takoma Park, Md.; Kent L. Shippen, Montoursville; Adam D. Thompson, State College; Yidrisca Maria Vargas, Lock Haven; Stephanie E. Vrontisis, Milton; and Hilary C. Weymer, Strasburg.

Dr. Gregory R. Frailey, assistant medical director of the College’s Physician Assistant Program, served as supervising physician for the students and faculty members at the games. He worked closely with Dr. David N. Ambrose, the medical director for the World Series.

Penn College faculty and staff members who served as supervising physician assistants were: Jane R. Arenas, clinical director; Lane R. Bower, part-time instructor; Paula D. Holmes, program coordinator; Joseph Mileto Jr., instructor; Cory Sefchick, part-time instructor; and Swank-Caschera.

According to Swank-Caschera, the Physician Assistant students were just one part of a volunteer medical team at the World Series. That team also included volunteer students and staff from the Penn College Paramedic Program, who provided medical care to the public at the games, and a sports medicine specialist and volunteer ambulances and paramedics from neighboring communities.

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