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Omarah Bell, 2, takes a seat in the grass while she gets her picture taken with her dad Jury Bell and her dog Maya all of Clearfield. The Bells had been playing at Upper Witmer Park in Clearfield yesterday afternoon and were on their way to get some ice cream.


Cutting-edge robotic technology available to assist orthopedic surgeons at PHH

Mako, the surgeon-guided robotic arm that’s now assisting hip and knee replacement surgeries at Penn Highlands DuBois and Penn Highlands Clearfield, was unveiled at both hospitals Thursday.

Penn Highlands Healthcare is proud to be the only health system in the region to offer surgeries assisted by Mako SmartRobotic, which facilitates greater precision and faster recovery for patients of hip and knee replacements than traditional join replacement procedures, said Director of Orthopedic Robotic Surgery Dr. Matthew Varacallo.

“The way I like to describe it is we’re building on an even better program than we had in the past and really what the public should know is that Penn Highlands is at the point where we’re being considered one of the top leading institutions in the country for these types of treatments,” said Varacallo. “We’re offering services that aren’t even offered in Pittsburgh. What I try to emphasize to patients is that they don’t have to go somewhere else. Why would you go to Pittsburgh or State College where you’re not getting this unique multifaceted, comprehensive approach?”

Penn Highlands Clearfield Orthopedics Surgeon and Sports Medicine Dr. Mark Nartatez said the orthopedic surgeons are extremely excited to offer hip and knee replacements with assistance from the Mako robotic arm.

“Having cared for patients in this area for many years and being from the area, I know our community well,” said Nartatez. “As more individuals in our region are staying active well into their senior years, our goal at Penn Highlands Clearfield is to bring advancements to our hospital to help patients experience the most satisfaction and swiftest recovery possible.”

Mako is an innovative surgical solution for many people suffering from painful arthritis or degeneration of the knee or hip.

“The use of our joints over time can lead to pain and degeneration, and sometimes patients and their physicians decide that a joint replacement is the best plan of action to make them feel better,” said Nartatez.

Manufactured by Stryker, one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, Mako can lead to smaller incisions, less blood loss, preservation of healthy bone, and ultimately faster recovery than traditional hip and knee replacements.

“Mako has a 15- to 20-year proven track record,” said Varacallo. “I started using the technology and training in 2016. So I trained with it in Philadelphia.”

Varacallo said he pushed to bring the innovative technology to PHH because he believes in it.

“Penn Highlands was thankfully open enough to bring this technology to this area,” said Varacallo. “I’m tremendously blessed and humbled to be able to direct this program and take it into this next phase with the robotics.”

Both Varacallo and Nartatez noted that it’s important for patients to understand that their highly trained Penn Highlands surgeon is still the one performing the procedure.

“It’s not C-3PO doing the surgery,” joked Varacallo. “The robot is a standalone object that is wheeled into the field. And so, I’m standing there, I’m doing the surgery, I’m standing in the same exact position. Instead of having the saw in my hand, I’m guiding the robotic arm with a saw attachment on there. So I’m controlling the trigger. I’m doing everything that I was doing before, but the difference is I’m looking at a screen.”

“As the surgeon, we’re controlling the robot throughout the procedure, and the robot is following the surgeon’s maneuvers in real time,” said Nartatez. “An important part of what makes Mako different from other joint replacement procedures is the fact that a 3D scan of the patient’s anatomy is uploaded into the robot’s software so that it knows even the smallest intricacies of the patient’s unique anatomy.”

Mako does not perform surgery, make decisions on its own or move without the surgeon’s guidance. Mako SmartRoboticsTM also allows your surgeon to make adjustments to your plan during surgery as needed.

Mako is shown to speed patient recovery time following a hip or knee procedure.

“It also causes less blood loss and disturbance of healthy bone, and less swelling than traditional joint replacement,” said Nartatez. “Mako has the potential to decrease recovery time significantly after a hip, knee, or total knee replacement. The orthopedic surgeons have worked with our physical therapy team develop the most ideal recovery protocols for patients following hip or knee replacement with Mako.”

While any patient can receive the robotic assisted replacement surgery, Varacallo said it is extremely beneficial for younger patients such as those in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

“And then also patients with significant deformity,” said Varacallo. “Patients who have, it’s called in medical terms, a dysplastic hip. And what that means, dysplastic means it didn’t form correctly. So over the years, it’s predisposed to early arthritis. But those patients with the dysplastic anatomy, it’s severely altered.”

The cost for each Mako robot is approximately $1.5 million, according to Penn Highlands.

PHH Clearfield President Rhonda Halsted said getting their own Mako at PHH Clearfield is a great example of how PHH is investing in the community’s hospital.

“Penn Highlands is here to deliver the most current technology possible to our patients, and this is one of the biggest advancements to come to Penn Highlands Clearfield since I’ve been here,” said Halsted.

Curwensville council discusses traffic congestion on Cooper Road

CURWENSVILLE — Curwensville Borough Council discussed a complaint received from a business located in the Curwensville Industrial Park concerning vehicles entering the Curwensville Area Schools complex hampering through traffic on Cooper Road.

During the police committee report at Thursday’s rescheduled committees’ and business meeting, Mayor John Adams said the department received a call from an employee of a business located in the Industrial Park. The employee expressed concern the line of traffic waiting to access the entrance to Chestnut Street from its intersection with Cooper Road was stretching along Cooper Road to the intersection with Schofield Street. The standstill was slowing down deliveries to the business.

Adams said the business had called last year, making the same complaint. Adams said the call came after the school district changed its drop-off point for elementary school students from the entrance to the elementary school to the elementary cafeteria doors.

Several council members said they believed the school district suggested elementary school parents utilize Chestnut Street to access the elementary cafeteria entrance.

Council discussed the matter. Councilman Dave Donahue said the previous problem with Anderson Street becoming clogged by parents transporting students to the elementary school entrance has now moved to Cooper Road.

“I believe Chestnut Street is a better system if they can get parents to listen,” Donahue said.

Adams said he is concerned. “The school did this and it is (the school’s) problem but any liability will be the borough’s. The important thing is the borough’s exposure. We can make suggestions but it will be up to the school district to implement any changes,” he noted.

President Sara Curulla said council and the school district administrators need to sit down together and solve the problem before an accident occurs. She said she was in favor of a traffic study being done to help guide any decisions.

“We are going to have to work something out. We can’t have disgruntled (residents),” Curulla said.

Curwensville’s District Superintendent Ron Matchock confirmed Friday for The Progress he is meeting with council Monday.

He declined comment at this time, stating, “I would like to wait until I know more about the issue/complaint.”

Matchock confirmed parents were given a suggested route to access the elementary cafeteria entrance by entering Chestnut Street where it intersects with Beech Street.

“The district suggested to parents that they drop off by coming across the campus and connecting onto Cooper Road,” Matchock said.

He said with the current COVID-19 pandemic there is additional parent traffic because fewer students are riding the buses to allow them to follow health and safety guidelines.

“The district has 1,040 students and there will be some traffic during drop-off and pick-up times no matter what route is used,” Matchock said.

Glen Richey man accused of using stolen credit card waives hearing

A Glen Richey man accused of stealing a corporate credit card and using it to purchase gasoline, waived his right to a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Michael Morris, Wednesday at Centralized Court held at the Clearfield County Jail.

Clyde Anthony Coates, 28, is charged with access device fraud, a felony of the third degree; theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property and 14 counts of defiant trespass, a misdemeanor of the third degree.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Feb. 8, 2019, Chief Douglas Clark was contacted by an official with a drilling company located in Lawrence Township who said they have discovered unauthorized purchases of gasoline on the company credit card and suspected Coates, a former employee, was the culprit.

The official said Coates was only employed with the company for a short time and he was terminated because he was caught stealing gasoline. The company decided not to prosecute him criminally and instead terminated his employment.

After his termination, the company discovered 14 instances of unauthorized purchases of fuel on the company credit card from Oct. 14, 2018 to Dec. 29, 2018. The company also has video surveillance cameras on its property, which shows a Dodge pickup truck enter onto the property, Coates exit the pickup, return short time later and leave. Coates would then return a short time later and do the same thing. The credit card that was used in the purchases was located in a vehicle parked on company property and it is believed Coates, took the credit card, used it to buy gasoline, returned and put the credit card back into the truck.

Chief Clark obtained video surveillance from the gas stations the credit card was used at and the videos showed Coates filling up his pickup with gasoline at the same time as the time stamps on the credit card.

Coates stole a total of $1,185.32 worth of gasoline using the company credit card, according to Clark.

On Feb. 19, 2019 Clark interviewed Coates at the police station. During the interview Coates admitted to taking the credit card and using it to put gasoline in his personal vehicle.

He said he is currently laid off of work and needed the fuel but intends to pay the company back. Coates also agreed to give a written statement on his actions.

Coates was arrested and arraigned on Sept. 15 and placed in the Clearfield County Jail in lieu of $25,000 monetary bail. On Wednesday, bail was reduced to $25,000 unsecured and he was released.

Visit Clearfield County offers new view of the county through social media takeover

Clearfield County Recreation and Tourism Director Josiah Jones wanted to offer visitors to Visit Clearfield County’s Facebook and Instagram pages a new perspective on Clearfield County.

He recently offered a Clearfield pre-teen and a blog writer opportunities to post their own photos and thoughts about the county’s attractions.

Jones said he got the idea for a “social media takeover” at a training. “I go to different trainings outside of the area and destination marketers share ideas. One idea that was presented was to have an influencer take over the social media. I liked the idea and thought we should try implementing that,” he explained.

He said he found some photographs by 12-year-old Ava Kane interesting, stating they showed a some aspects of the county that hadn’t been presented before.

“Her mother and I are friends and she shared some ideas for social distancing activities that could be done in the county during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jones said. “I asked whether Ava might be interested in taking over our social meeting.”

Kane, a seventh grade student at Clearfield Area Jr./Sr. High School, said she has a compromised immune system because of asthma. She, her mother and their family’s new puppy began walking and hiking during the months school was closed because of the pandemic because they could practice social distancing and the activity was healthy.

While they were walking and hiking, Kane said she used her cell phone to take pictures of the insects, flowers, rocks and other interesting flora and fauna the two found.

Kane said she was very “excited” to share. Jones said she has posted on VCC’s social media three weekends using ideas gleaned from VCC’s visitors guide.

“The visitor’s guide is Clearfield County’s main and best marketing source. I asked her to review it and come up with a plan,” Jones said.

Kane said she visited Doolittle’s where she captured images of the dinosaur and train exhibits. She also traveled to Rockton Mountain where she recorded images of the mountain and men made from various sizes of stones. Another county attraction, she dropped in on was Mosquito Creek where she said she wanted to show the fishing spots.

“I wanted to show things that people can do for free while they are socially distancing. There is lots to do here in Clearfield County,” Kane said.

She also has plans to visit Parker Dam, Curwensville Lake and Bilger’s Rocks. “These are places I really haven’t visited before,” she said.

“Seeing what is available here through a 12-year-old’s eyes is a great opportunity,” Jones said.

Jones said Kane’s posts were so well received, he decided to give a travel blogger, Jody Arneson of Baltimore who shares her adventures on MidAtlanticDayTrips.com, a similar opportunity.

Arneson visited Clearfield County this week and posted a number her findings from numerous attractions throughout the county — including elk viewing at Karthaus, Bilger’s Rocks, Rails to Trails recreation path at Houtzdale and Clearfield County’s geocaching trails. She told The Progress she was anxious to try geocaching.

“Clearfield County has five trails and I thought that would give me a great opportunity to try geocaching and see whether I liked it,” Arneson said.

Arneson — who has visited Clearfield County on several occasions — said she finds the area very scenic and said there are many things to do here and a number of them are free.