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September/October 2020 Edition

PLEASE WELCOME NEW PROVIDERS
 David Kurz, MD, urologist, joined the team in Williamsport. Dr. Kurz received his medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, and completed his residency in urology with Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa. He is board certified by the American Board of Urology and is a member of the American Urological Association. Dr. Kurz will see patients at 1705 Warren Ave., Suite 206, Williamsport. To schedule an appointment, call 570-326-8090.

 David Luo, DO, MHS, family medicine, joined the team in Lock Haven. Dr. Luo received his medical degree from New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, Old Westbury, N.Y., his master of health sciences from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Md., and completed his residency at Mount Sinai South Nassau, Oceanside, N.Y. Dr. Luo is accepting new patients at  1 Outlet Lane, Suite 400, Lock Haven. To schedule an appointment, call 570-769-1300.

 Hadeel Naqib, MD, pediatrics, joined the team in Wellsboro. Dr. Naqib received her medical degree from the University of Baghdad College of Medicine, Baghdad, Iraq, and completed residencies in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital, Chattanooga, Tenn. She has over 30 years of experience, and is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. Dr. Naqib is accepting new patients at 15 Meade St., Suite U4, Wellsboro. To schedule an appointment, call 570-723-6380.

 Vwaire Orhurhu, MD, MPH, pain management, joined the team at Williamsport. Dr. Orhurhu earned his medical degree from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn. And served a dual residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass. and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass. Additionally he completed a fellowship in chronic pain at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass. and completed his masters in public health at Harvard University, School of Public Health, Boston, Mass. Dr. Orhurhu will see patients at Grampian Blvd, Williamsport and 2330 St. Mary St. West, 1st Floor, Lewisburg, Pa. To refer a patient, call 570-326-8557.

 Suhag R. Patel, PA-C, neurology, joined the team in Williamsport. Patel earned his physician assistant certification and bachelor of science in molecular biology from Lock Haven University. He sees patients at  740 Hight St., Suite 3002, Williamsport. To schedule an appointment, call 570-321-2820.

 John Pellegrino, DO, family medicine, joined the team in Williamsport. Dr. Pellegrino received his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa.  he completed his residency at the Williamsport Family Medicine Residency, Williamsport. Dr. Pellegrino is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Pellegrino will see patients at 700 High St., 9th floor, Williamsport. For more information, call 570-321-2770.

 Stacy Prall, DO, gastroenterology, joined the team in Williamsport. Dr. Prall received her medical degree from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, Biddeford, Maine. She completed her residency in internal medicine and pediatrics, and a fellowship in gastroenterology and hepatology at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Pa. She is board certified in gastroenterology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Prall will see patients at the 740 High St., Suite 1003, Williamsport. To refer a patient, call 570- 321-3454.

 Nicholas Pytel, MD, MPH, is the new medical director for occupational health services in the Susquehanna region. Dr. Pytel received his medical degree from Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey. He earned his master of public health and completed his residency in occupational and environmental medicine with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Md. Dr. Pytel is a veteran, having served as a naval flight surgeon with the United States Marine Corps stationed at MCAS Cherry Point, N.C. He is a member of the American Medical Association and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Dr. Pytel will see patients at 1100 Grampian Blvd., Williamsport. To schedule an appointment, call 570-320-7444.

 Fadi Sweiss, MD, neurosurgeon, joined the team in Williamsport. Dr. Sweiss received his medical degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University, Rootstown, Ohio, and completed his residency in neurosurgery at George Washington University Hospital, Washington, D.C. Dr. Sweiss specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of degenerative, traumatic, and oncologic spinal conditions. He sees patients at 740 Hight St., Suite 3002, Williamsport, and  260 Reitz Blvd., Lewisburg. To schedule an appointment, call 570-321-2820.

 Alvine Taylor, CRNP, nephrology, joined the team in Williamsport. Taylor earned her Master of Science in nursing from Walden University, Minneapolis, Minn and her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport. Taylor will see patients at the UPMC Williamsport, Divine Providence Campus, 1201 Grampian Blvd, Suite 1A, Williamsport. Additional kidney clinic locations include 1 Outlet Lane, Lock Haven, and 260 Reitz Blvd., Suite C, Lewisburg. To refer a patient, call 570-326-8080.
 
Tiny Antibody Component Highly Effective Against          COVID-19
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine scientists have isolated the smallest biological molecule to date that completely and specifically neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the cause of COVID-19. This antibody component, which is 10 times smaller than a full-sized antibody, has been used to construct a drug — known as Ab8 — for potential use as a therapeutic and prophylactic against SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers report in the journal Cell that Ab8 is highly effective in preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice and hamsters. Its tiny size not only increases its potential for diffusion in tissues to better neutralize the virus, but also makes it possible to administer the drug by alternative routes, including inhalation. Importantly, it does not bind to human cells—a good sign that it won’t have negative side-effects in people.

“Ab8 not only has potential as therapy for COVID-19, but it also could be used to keep people from getting SARS-CoV-2 infections,” said co-author John Mellors, MD chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UPMC and Pitt. “Antibodies of larger size have worked against other infectious diseases and have been well tolerated, giving us hope that it could be an effective treatment for patients with COVID-19 and for protection of those who have never had the infection and are not immune.”

The tiny antibody component is the variable, heavy chain (VH) domain of an immunoglobulin, which is a type of antibody found in the blood. It was found by “fishing” in a pool of more than 100 billion potential candidates using the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as bait. Ab8 is created when the VH domain is fused to part of the immunoglobulin tail region, adding the immune functions of a full-size antibody without the bulk.

 Like the Pitt and UPMC vaccine candidate PittCoVacc that delivers an immunization through a spiky Band-Aid-like patch and overcomes the need for needles and refrigeration, the researchers are “thinking outside the box” when it comes to how Ab8 could be administered. Its small size might allow it to be given as an inhaled drug or intradermally, rather than intravenously through an IV drip, like most monoclonal antibodies currently in development.

To learn more click here.
Find the full release here.
Telegenetics, Now in Williamsport
UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Williamsport, partnering with the Cancer Genetics team at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, Pittsburgh, is offering virtual risk assessments, genetic counseling, education, and genetic testing to patients with personal and family histories of cancer.

This program connects patients directly to UPMC specialists in Pittsburgh, providing unique access to expert specialty care while avoiding long-distance travel and related time and expenses.
Genetic risk assessment, counseling, and testing gives patients a glance into the future by identifying those most at risk for cancer and educating them on what the increased risk means for them. Determining whether the cancer in someone’s family is hereditary helps develop the most appropriate ongoing care plan for prevention and detection.

Certain factors determine if a person is an appropriate candidate for the program. Someone who has had multiple cancers, a rare cancer (such as male breast cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, or pheochromocytoma), developed cancer at a young age, or who has a strong family history would likely be considered.

Anyone can be referred to the UPMC Cancer Genetics Telemedicine Program. Appointments are available the first Tuesday of the month starting September 1 at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Williamsport, at UPMC Williamsport Divine Providence Campus, 1100 Grampian Blvd.

During a telegenetics appointment patients will meet in person with a clinic nurse and have a video conference with one of our medical geneticists, Michael Bashford, MD or Phuong L. Mai, MD. Together, they will provide cancer risk assessment and genetic counseling/testing based on personal and family cancer histories.

For appointments, call the Cancer Genetics Program at 1-800-454-8156. Provider and patient self-referrals are accepted.

Breast genetic counseling will continue to be referred to the Breast Health Center at UPMC Williamsport Divine Providence Campus, at 570-326-8200.
Learn more at UPMCSusquehanna.org/Telegenetics.

New Bowel Control Treatment in Williamsport


  Jasneet Bhullar, MD, recently became the first colorectal surgeon in central Pennsylvania to perform the implantation procedure for the new InterStim TM II system, for the treatment of chronic fecal incontinence. The InterStim TM II, uses neuromodulation, a therapy that utilizes gentle nerve stimulation to normalize bowel-brain communication to control the symptoms of chronic fecal incontinence. Dr. Bhullar sees patients at 700 High St., Suite 1003, Williamsport. To learn more about the InterStim TM II system procedure or to refer a patient, call 570-321-3160.

UPMC Primary Care Lewisburg is Now Open

                                 
  Robin Spangler, MD                        Christine Belgio, CRNP

Primary care providers Robin Spangler, MD, and Christine Belgio, CRNP, will see patients at UPMC’s newest clinic– UPMC Primary Care Lewisburg located at 260 Reitz Blvd, Suite C. Dr. Spangler has practiced family medicine for 30 years in the Susquehanna Valley and will relocate from Family Medicine at Montoursville, 900 Plaza Dr., Montoursville. Christine Belgio, CRNP, has 15 years of experience as a nurse practitioner. For more information about UPMC Primary Care Lewisburg, call 570-567-5450.
UPMC Health Plan Update
  • Whether a patient is a UPMC Health Plan member, looking for new coverage, or seeking answers to health insurance questions, they can meet with one of the helpful associates seven days a week. The UPMC Health Plan Connect Center is located at 1925 E. 3rd St., Loyal Plaza, Williamsport. Appointments aren’t necessary but will help better serve your patients. Appointments can be made by calling 570-322-9260.
  • To receive the latest UPMC Health Plan news and information for network providers, read or sign up to receive the monthly Provider Partner Update.
  • If your office has any UPMC Health Plan network questions, please contact Kim Makowski at makowskik@upmc.edu.
  • Provider Online Tutorial Videos Available
    Please see our new Provider Online tutorial videos at the following link to learn more about how easy the UPMC Health Plan provider portal is to help you care for your patients. 
    View Provider OnLine Tutorial Videos
  • Coverage of Telehealth Well-Child Visits
    The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented social distancing measures. These guidelines have encouraged people to avoid leaving their homes except for essentials like groceries or urgent medical care. As such, many parents are postponing pediatric well-visits.
    As indicated by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Bright Futures periodicity schedule, UPMC Health Plan recommends that children covered by UPMC for Kids, UPMC for You, and commercial plans see their PCP in person for annual well-visits. However, in light of current social distancing guidelines, UPMC Health Plan will consider well-child visits done via telehealth and conducted in a way that optimizes care delivery as valid well-child visits.
    UPMC Health Plan will cover telehealth well-child visits for pediatric members of UPMC for Kids, UPMC for You, and commercial plans in accordance with AAP Bright Futures recommendations. Coverage varies based on the need for in-person well-child testing.
  • UPMC Health Plan has developed billing guides to assist providers in administering and billing compliant telehealth well-child visits.
  • EPSDT Telehealth Billing Guide
  • CHIP / Commercial / Individual Telemedicine Billing Guide
    Note for all billing guidance for EPSDT: The EP modifier must still be placed first for EPSDT billing consideration. Remember, these steps are not intended to supersede your preferred methods of care delivery and the provider is responsible for the appropriate billing of services.
  • Update on UPMC Health Plan Member Cost Share for Colorectal Cancer Screenings Update UPMC Health Plan is making colorectal cancer (CRC) screening easier and more accessible for members. We are changing our billing procedures for UPMC Health Plan members who complete a fecal test with a positive result necessitating a follow-up colonoscopy. Learn about the adjustments in our billing guide and the next Provider Partner Update newsletter.
Specialty Access
Our providers continually strive to improve access to care. Call today for the earliest available appointments for your patients.

Orthopaedics/Sports Medicine/ Foot & Ankle
Williamsport: 570-321-2020
Coudersport: 814-274-7474

Pain Management
Williamsport and Bloomsburg: 570-326-8457
Lock Haven: 570-893-5437

General Surgery
Williamsport: 570-321-3760
Lock Haven: 570-321-3760
Muncy: 570-546-4185
Wellsboro: 570-723-0716
Coudersport: 814-274-7474

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Williamsport: 570-326-8005

Cancer Care
Williamsport: 570-326-8470
Wellsboro: 570-723-2855
Coudersport: 814-274-5208

Cardiology/Electrophysiology
Williamsport: 570-321-2800

Urology
Williamsport: 570-326-8090
Lock Haven: 570-769-1300
Coudersport: 814-274-7474

Physician Liaisons

Keith Boyer

Director, Business Development
C: 570-447-5850
boyerka@upmc.edu

Joseph M. Makowski
Physician Liaison
C: 610-864-3082
makowskij@upmc.edu 
Southern/Eastern Lycoming, Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Montour, and Columbia Counties.

Erin Plocinski
Physician Liaison
C: 570-367-1869
Plocinskiem@upmc.edu
Central/Western Lycoming, Centre, Clinton, Tioga, Potter, Bradford, and Sullivan Counties.

 
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