Lancaster Physician Winter 2021 - 33

WINTER 2021

saying Penn State has a long and proud history
in those areas that can be traced back at least
to 1948 when the university's signature slogan
" We Are " was first used as a protest against
collegiate football segregation.
" Even our motto, 'We Are,' is based on
Penn State's pride in diversity and inclusion, "
DeFlitch said. " Those issues came to the forefront this year, and they came to a very public
head. I think it's important to keep them in
the forefront as we move forward. "
Diversity, DeFlitch asserted, should be
honored and celebrated.
He is hopeful that the experience of the
pandemic will cause people to take stock of
what is important in their lives.
" I hope many people will find that balance
of knowing what is important and spending
time with those who are so dear, " he said. " I
think that 2021 will allow us to do that. "
Already a societal problem before the pandemic, mental health will continue to cause
concern in the future, DeFlitch shared. While
the general public has felt the strain of restrictions, fear of illness, job loss, financial worries
and isolation, health care workers have borne
an even bigger mental strain as they coped
with treating very sick patients in addition to
all other stressors.
" I do worry about the mental health drain
on health care providers, " DeFlitch said.
" This pandemic has been such a marathon
for such a long period of time. It has been
very challenging. "
He urged anyone experiencing negative
mental health effects to seek help.
While 2020 was certainly challenging,
DeFlitch said there were some positive aspects
to the year that should be carried forward into
2021. He cited the dedication of essential
workers, including those in health care; the
caring exhibited by people who wore masks
and went out of their way to help neighbors;
the rapid formulation and manufacture of a
vaccine; and everyone who volunteered to help
or contributed to a cause or charity.

" I don't think we should forget the lessons
of 2020, " he said. " It was a hard year, but there
were some bright spots we should remember. "
DEBORAH WILLWERTH,
PRESIDENT, LANCASTER REGION
AND UPMC LITITZ
DR. ROBERT L. CONTER,
VICE PRESIDENT OF MEDICAL
AFFAIRS, UPMC LITITZ
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many
changes onto the health care industry in 2020
and will continue to create challenges in 2021,
predicted Deborah Willwerth, President,
Lancaster Region and UPMC Lititz, and Dr.
Robert L. Conter, Vice President of Medical
Affairs, UPMC Lititz. However, conditions
could improve for everyone if community
members embrace pandemic restrictions
and agree to get a vaccine when it becomes
readily available.
" While COVID is still with us, it's difficult
to see what 2021 might look like, " Willwerth
said. " There is no crystal ball; we just have
to hope our communities band together to
prevent continued spread. Until the vaccine
is available for everyone, we need to continue
to rely on masks and handwashing and other
measures that are proven to work. "
UPMC Lititz, along with the entire industry,
will continue to innovate and adapt, relying
on technological advancements to keep up
with the needs of patients and the community
at large.
A surge in the use of telemedicine will
continue in 2021, Conter said, continuing
to benefit a variety of patients.
" This is a technology that I think will skyrocket in the future, " he shared. " I'm looking
at telemedicine as an almost never-ending
resource down the line. "
His practice, Lancaster-based General and
Surgical Oncology Specialists of Central PA,
relies on telemedicine for periodic, routine
check-ins with cancer patients, saving them
from having to travel and face potential exposures to COVID and other illnesses.

LANCASTER

33

PHYSICIAN

" It's safer and easier for patients, and I can
actually give them comparable care as I would
in person, " Conter said.
Willwerth, who also serves as vice president
of the pediatric service line for UPMC Children's Harrisburg, added that virtual care has
been a boon for parents who need wheelchairs,
vans, or other special equipment to transport
sick children for care.
" It can relieve a lot of stress for those parents
and their children to be able to receive treatment at home, " explained Willwerth.
Telemedicine has also proven effective for
patients seeking mental health services, an
area where available care is sometimes in short
supply. And, it is beneficial to UPMC's new
Lifestyle Medicine program, which is now
available in the Lancaster market. Designed for
patients looking to improve their overall health,
the program is based on six pillars of health:
healthful eating, improving sleep, increasing
physical activity, reducing stress, avoiding
substance abuse, and managing relationships.
" That program works very nicely via telemedicine, " noted Willwerth.
UPMC offers a variety of public health
education programs, most of which have been
able to continue virtually during the pandemic.
In fact, observed Willwerth, more patients
availed themselves of certain classes, such as
childbirth and healthy living, than previously.
" I think we've touched more people with
these virtual presentations than we ever
could with in-person events, " she said.
" Certain programs lend themselves very
well to online presentation. "
Other than continuing use of telemedicine
in 2021, UPMC will be paying attention to
the issue of cybersecurity, which has become
a focus for health care systems nationwide as
incidence of cybercrime increases. UPMC
is diligent about staying current to protect
its systems, Willwerth said, and employees
receive ongoing education about cyberattack
techniques and how to avoid them.
Continued on page 34



Lancaster Physician Winter 2021

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