Former Glen Mills School will help deal with surge in COVID-19 patients, Pa.’s Scanlon says | Friday Morning Coffee

U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District, speaks with Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (Photo courtesy of the office of U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon).

(*This story has been updated to include comment from Christopher Spriggs, the acting executive director of Glen Mills School.)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing its spread statewide, and officials looking for hospital bed space wherever they can find it, a former all-boys reformatory school in suburban Philadelphia could soon be pressed into service.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon’s, D-5th District, office announced that the shuttered Glen Mills School in Delaware County, had been designated a “federal emergency station,” allowing it to reopen to help deal with an expected surge in patients.

Earlier in the day on Thursday, Scanlon, joined by U.S. Reps. Dwight Evans, D-3rd District; Madeleine Dean, D-4th District;  Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th District, and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, as well as 
U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R), sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency expressing their support for the idea first brought forth by county officials in Philadelphia’s four, suburban counties.

“I’m proud to have led the Congressional effort to ask FEMA to designate Glen Mills School as a Federal Medical Station, and glad to see that the request has been approved,” Scanlon said in a statement released Thursday night. “As our region faces the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, we need as many federal resources as possible to save lives and help our healthcare workers. We are hopeful that the new facility at Glen Mills will provide much needed medical support to our constituents.”

Christopher Spriggs is the acting executive director of the currently shuttered Glen Mills School (Philadelphia Tribune photo)

In their letter to FEMA Administrator Peter T. Gaynor, the lawmakers said the school, which was closed down in the wake of an abuse scandal, could be put to a number of uses.

They include:

  • “Serving patients who cannot be discharged to a long-term care facility.
  •  Serving patients in non-critical need from critical care hospitals.
  •  Serving patients who are in hospitals and stable, but too ill to be discharged.
  • Serving as a standing medical station in case a Long-Term Care Facility is evacuated,” Scanlon’s office said.

“Based on the observed progression of COVID-19, we expect that hospitals in our region will require significant assistance from a Federal Medical Station in order to provide high quality care to our constituents,” the letter reads.

*In a statement, the school’s acting executive director, Christopher Spriggs, told the Capital-Star that Glen Mills “stands in support of state and regional efforts and is glad to partner with Delaware County Emergency Services by serving as a much-needed resource for the community. We are glad to be able to offer our campus and all facilities to first responders and other important emergency response personnel as long as needed.”

He continued: “We have a campus that is being underutilized and want to step up and be a resource for the community as well as partner to the broader region in its efforts to establish Glen Mills Schools as a Federal Medical Station. We will all be judged by how we respond to this pandemic and Glen Mills Schools is willing and able to be part of this critical response.”

As of midday Thursday, there were 107 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bucks County; 84 cases in Chester County; 156 cases in Delaware County, with one fatality, and 282 cases in Montgomery County, with two fatalities, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Elizabeth Hardison
 leads our coverage this morning with her must-read explanation of the risk facing Pennsylvania children trapped in abusive households in the midst our lockdown era.

Capital-Star Lancaster Correspondent Lauren Manelius looks at the myriad of ways that businesspeople, artists and community groups in the Queen City are lending each other a hand in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Northeastern Pennsylvania Correspondent Patrick Abdalla, meanwhile, brings you the tale of similar efforts in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, including those educators who are trying to preserve some sense of normalcy for their students — and themselves.

Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender chatted with former Obama administration Inspector General Earl Devaney, who says the scam artists will almost certainly make a play for the $2 trillion in aid that Congress is set to approve on Friday. He should know — he was in charge of preventing similar fraud during the Great Recession.

stunning 650,000 Pennsylvanians filed for unemployment during the 11 day period that ended Thursday, Stephen Caruso reports. That’s about 1 in 10 people in the state workforce.

Two weeks after the fact, there’s still no ruling in a petition challenge in a contentious state House race in Pittsburgh, our partners at the Pittsburgh Current report.

Philadelphia City Council approved an $85M rescue package to help the city fight the COVID-19 pandemic — plus an extra $400K for Council to spend on a public education campaign, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

On our Commentary Page, frequent opinion contributor John A. Tures speculates on the state of our COVID-19 presidential campaign. And opinion regular Ray E. Landis, who writes about issues important to older Pennsylvanians, has tips on avoiding coronavirus scams.

Vanessa Garrett Harley, Deputy Managing Director, Criminal Justice & Public Safety and Mayor Jim Kenney discuss preventive initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence and gun trauma (Philadelphia Tribune photo by Abdul Sulayman)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has accused Hahnemann Hospital’s owners of trying to ‘make a buck’ off the pandemic, the Inquirer reports.
More than half of Pennsylvania’s confirmed coronavirus cases are aged 50 and younger, the Post-Gazette reports.
Pennsylvania’s school districts are facing pressure to provide online education for their students, PennLive reports.
There are now 119 COVID-19 cases in the Lehigh Valley, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM profiles the home care workers who are at-risk, but continuing to do their important work, during the pandemic.
Municipal governments are seeking guidance on open meetings rules during the pandemic, the PA Post reports.
A new progressive group is aiming to flip the state House and Senate in NovemberPoliticsPA reports.
Some Trump supporters fear the White House could take a premature victory lap on the coronavirus, Politico reports.

What Goes On.
Time TBA: Daily COVID-19 briefing.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a quiet, lovely one from Jason Isbell for your Friday morning. It’s ‘Cover Me Up.’

Friday’s Gratuitous History Fact.
Today, in 1987, U2 film their iconic video for ‘Where the Streets Have No Name,’ on a rooftop in Los Angeles.

And now you’re up to date.

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press