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Explorers off to a good start in Franklin County

April 14, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Dr. George Galanis stared intently at the image on the screen from the CT scanner, a cross-section display showing a spongy, cubelike object.

"I think it's a marshmallow," the radiologist said.

Galanis was on a roll, having earlier identified a bag of coffee beans, a tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce and a Tupperware container, although he could not guess its exact contents.

"He's like a magician," Dr. Robert Pyatt said to a group of young people in the Imaging Lab at Chambersburg Hospital. "He figured out everything in my box without opening it."

Galanis was not examining the insides of a patient with an indiscriminate palate, but one of the "mystery boxes" that members of the newly formed Summit Health Explorer Post brought to be analyzed by the 64-slice scanner. The post members then tried to figure out the contents.

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Anastasia Kissel took an earlier stab at identifying the contents.

"That looks like oatmeal, but I'm not sure it is," Kissel said of the coffee beans. Not a bad guess for a Chambersburg Area Senior High School student who has not spent much time examining CT images.

Kissel said she is interested in nursing, perhaps in the area of anesthesiology.

Pyatt said he expected about eight young people to show up for the second post meeting, the first meeting being organizational. About a dozen -- mostly girls -- showed up, most carrying their own mystery boxes.

Kissel's contained a collection of common hospital items -- a urinalysis cup, a biohazard bag, gauze and a Band-Aid among them.

"I just wanted to get an idea of what radiology really is. See is if it's something I want to do," Zach Fisher, a Greencastle-Antrim High School student, said when asked why he joined.

Explorers is a program open to people between the ages of 14 and 21, said William Tolleson, district executive for the Keystone Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. One of its most important roles is providing young people with opportunities for leadership development, as well as career exploration.

"Most communities typically have several Explorer posts" in areas such as law enforcement, emergency services and health care, Tolleson said. "Like the Boy Scouts, Explorers is youth-led," so the explorers will be picking their leaders and setting their own agenda in the months ahead.

In the meantime, Pyatt said the May meeting will involve a tour of an operating room and the June meeting will be about orthopedics.

"They're going to get gowned up like they're going to take out an appendix and learn how to scrub up," Pyatt said of the operating room session. In June, they'll be putting casts on each other, he said.

Liz Rosenberry, another Chambersburg Area Senior High School student, said she has been interested in a health-care career, but has not spent enough time in a hospital to know whether to pursue such a career, or in what area.

"I'm trying to experience everything I can," Rosenberry said.

There's good reason for a health-care Explorer Post in Franklin County, Pyatt said. The county's general population and its medical professionals are growing old as baby boomers have begin hitting their golden years.

Pennsylvania already is underserved, ranking 37th in the number of physicians and 44th in pharmacists per 10,000 residents, Pyatt said. Almost half of the state's work force will hit retirement age by 2014, and more than half of the doctors in the state are 50 or older.

In part because of the cost of malpractice insurance rates in Pennsylvania, few young doctors are moving here, Pyatt said. Just 6 percent of doctors are younger than 35, down from 15 percent 10 years ago, he said.

Summit Health has put together a team of specialists to help get the post started, including Sherri Stahl, vice president of Patient Services; Dave Grant, director of Pharmacy and Respiratory Care; Dr. James Hurley, a surgeon; Dr. Roger Robertson, president of the medical staff; Cheri Kearney, school liaison manager; and Kelley Bishop, a clinical manager in Physical Medicine, Pyatt said.

Many of the professionals involved have Scouting backgrounds, said Pyatt, who was an Eagle Scout.

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