Physical Disabilities & Aging

The 2021 RCPA Conference, Leading in 2021: Hope, Help, Heal, will tentatively be held as a hybrid event (September 28 – October 1). As the COVID-19 pandemic permits, it will take place both at the Hershey Lodge as well as virtually. Since this is a premier statewide event, the Conference Committee is seeking workshop proposals for possible inclusion. The conference offers diverse educational opportunities, and submissions are needed in every area. A complete listing of focus tracks is available on the proposal form. Last year, many submissions were unable to be utilized due to the pandemic and the shift from an in-person to virtual format.

Presentations that assist providers in developing and maintaining quality, effective treatments, services, and agencies in an industry where change is constant are encouraged. The committee looks for presentations which:

  • Highlight new policy, research, and treatment initiatives;
  • Provide specific skills and information related to individual and organizational leadership development and enhancement;
  • Address system changes that affect business practices such as value-based purchasing; and
  • Offer concrete skills and tools to operate more efficient, effective agencies in a pandemic and post-pandemic arena.

Workshop ideas for 2021 include:

  • Strategies for Effective Teleintervention;
  • Assessing Abuse and Neglect in a Virtual Encounter;
  • The Impact of the Pandemic on Child Welfare/Abuse/Neglect;
  • Coping with Grief and Loss;
  • Preventing/Mitigating Provider Burnout;
  • Family and Caregiver Engagement;
  • Strategies to Combat the Impact of Screen-Time Fatigue (Telework, Virtual School, Virtual Socialization);
  • DEI Topics – Assessing Implicit Bias, Overcoming Implicit Bias, How to Develop a DEI Plan;
  • The PH-BH Interface – Finding Common Ground to Treat the Whole Person;
  • Ongoing Workforce Shortage Solutions;
  • The Changing Health-Care Landscape During and Post Pandemic;
  • Managing Human Capital/Resources Virtually;
  • Integrated Care Strategies for Implementation and Reimbursement;
  • Managed Care Models for People with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities;
  • Remote Services/Use of Technology in all Types of Support Services for Individuals with IDD;
  • Ethics Topics Across the Membership;
  • Emergency Planning for Community Violence;
  • Acquisitions/Mergers and Consolidations;
  • Value-Based Purchasing; and
  • Employing People with Disabilities.

The committee welcomes any proposal that addresses these and other topics essential to the rehabilitation, mental health, addiction, children’s, aging, intellectual and developmental disability, and physical disability communities. Members are encouraged to consider submitting proposals and to forward this opportunity to those who are exceptionally good speakers and who have state-of-the-art information to share.

The Call for Proposals and accompanying “Guidelines for Developing Educational Objectives” outline requirements for submissions. The deadline for submissions is Monday, February 22 at 5:00 pm. Proposals must be submitted electronically to Sarah Eyster on the form provided. Confirmation of receipt will be sent. Proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Proposals selected stand out by inclusion of solid learning objectives, information that a participant can use to enhance professional skills or methods, and ability to engage a diverse and advanced audience. If the proposal is accepted, individuals must be prepared to present on any day of the conference. Workshops are 60–75 minutes in length for a single session or 120–150 minutes in length for a double session. At the time of acceptance, presenters will be required to confirm the ability to submit workshop handouts electronically four weeks prior to the conference.

Individuals are welcome to submit multiple proposals. Notification of inclusion will be made via email by May 10. Questions may be directed to Sarah Eyster, Conference Coordinator.

February 17, 2021

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the newly formed joint task force with the legislature today reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring that Pennsylvanians will have access to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine within the CDC-recommended timeframe of up to 42 days after the first dose.

Acknowledging communications shortcomings and the need for more frequent outreach to providers, Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam outlined plans moving forward.

“As the Department of Health continues to review and improve the complex processes necessary to get COVID-19 vaccine from the manufacturers into the arms of Pennsylvanians as quickly as possible, we discovered some providers inadvertently administered the Moderna vaccine shipped to them intended as second doses, as first doses,” Acting Secretary Beam said. “We are taking immediate action to remedy the situation and are committed to ensuring that second doses are available.

“After careful review and discussion with legislators on Governor Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force we have a clear path forward that may include adjusting the timing of second dose administration following CDC guidelines that set the minimum time between doses at 21 and 28 days and the maximum time at 42 days.”

“The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are both two-dose vaccines,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “While the second dose was given either three or four weeks later during the clinical trials, the CDC has provided some leeway in the schedule given the limited amounts of vaccine available. Immunologically, waiting six weeks after the first dose to administer the second dose will surely result in the same booster response as that found during the three to four week interval.”

“We are in the desert with little water to drink,” Sen. Art Haywood, Senate Democratic Caucus Task Force member, said. “So it is with a scarce vaccine.  Now, we can’t waste the first dose of vaccine by not giving the second.”

“This second dose issue was the first major problem addressed by this task force and we have demonstrated that we are able to respond in real time and in a bipartisan manner,” said Sen. Ryan Aument, Senate Republican Caucus Task Force member. “However, we recognize that much work remains to implement a highly efficient and effective statewide plan to ensure that all Pennsylvanians who want to receive the vaccine, can. It is my hope that the task force will continue to work in a collaborative way to streamline and strengthen Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout.”

“Our task force is laser focused on getting the vaccine into the arms of every eligible Pennsylvanian,” said House Democratic Caucus Task Force member, Rep. Bridget Kosierowski. “The supply clearly does not meet the demand. It is pertinent that we have the second doses available to providers that have already administered the first dose. I am very optimistic that the supply will continue to increase as we enter into the next phase of the vaccine rollout.”

“It is vitally important that we collectively work together to improve the state’s vaccination rate and get shots in arms,” said Rep. Tim O’Neal, Task Force member for the House Republican Caucus. “This is a first step in moving forward. I look forward to collaborating with other members of the task force to remove all barriers, streamline vaccination efforts and provide clear direction to all.”

“By working with local vaccine providers to help them better understand the delivery of first and second dose vaccines and by extending the time between doses, while remaining within CDC guidelines, we can minimize any disruption to first dose vaccinations,” Acting Sec. Beam said. “Our goal remains getting the extremely limited supply of vaccine to people as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

The department is very closely monitoring the inventory of vaccine in Pennsylvania. To maximize the amount of vaccine getting to people, the department will begin pulling excess inventory from throughout the vaccine provider system to get it to providers that can get 80 percent of it into arms within seven days.

This week, Pennsylvania has been allocated 183,575 first doses of vaccine; and 143,275 second doses of vaccine. In addition, the federal government is sending thousands of vaccine doses directly to Rite Aid and Topco stores in Pennsylvania under the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership program. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health receives its own, separate allocation of vaccine.

“The department is working directly with vaccine providers throughout this process and, in line with the vaccine order I signed last week, will be able to provide more precise information on vaccine allocations each week to increase transparency and predictability with first doses,” Acting Sec. Beam said.

The task force is working with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as an integral part of these important conversations on how to ensure second doses are allocated accordingly.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Every day tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Here are the latest vaccination statistics through Feb. 16:

  • Local vaccine providers have administered 1,749,949 doses.
    • First doses, 82 percent (1,313,538 administered of 1,610,175 allocated)
    • Second doses, 38 percent (436,411 administered of 1,156,225 allocated)

Vaccine Order signed Feb. 12
Last week, Sec. Beam signed an order outlining appropriate steps and recognized best practices to ensure vaccine providers deliver 80 percent of doses within seven days of receipt, provide a phone number where people can speak to an individual to make an appointment and report race and ethnicity data for everyone vaccinated.

Your Turn tool

Last week, Pennsylvania launched the Your Turn tool to help everyone understand where they fall in the vaccination prioritization effort. The Your Turn tool directs eligible residents to the department’s vaccine provider map online to locate a trusted local provider and schedule a vaccination appointment. Your Turn also allows people to register to receive updates about vaccine distribution and allows the department to let you know when it is your turn to get vaccinated.

In addition to the Your Turn tool and while vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, the Department of Health is working to ensure the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable and efficient.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
  • Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa”.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

MEDIA CONTACT:  Barry Ciccocioppo, ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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From ANCOR: Subject: Join our national day of action for Medicaid disability funding!

The Ask: Today, use our action tool to ask Congress to say YES to increased funding for the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program during the pandemic.

Why it Matters: The HCBS program is essential to keeping people with disabilities safe at home during the pandemic and is stretched to the breaking point by the demands of COVID-19.

The Details: With Congress moving forward on a new COVID-19 emergency funding package, ANCOR is joining a coalition of national disability organizations to show strong support for an increase in funding for the HCBS program. In an important but not-yet-guaranteed victory for the disability community, the House COVID-19 relief package has a provision that would grant an increase to Medicaid totaling $9 billion specifically for the HCBS program during the pandemic. However, your action is still needed because that provision is not in the Senate package.

During the reconciliation process, the House and the Senate will each produce their own bill and then negotiate compromise legislation. With the House scheduled to vote on its reconciliation bill today, we want the disability community to be heard loud and clear that the HCBS program is essential. Please ask both chambers to support increased funding in their respective relief legislation and during negotiations for a final COVID-19 package.

Please take 2 minutes today to amplify the voices of people with disabilities and disability providers today!

PRA’s 2021 Lunch & Learn Debut: Digital Accessibility

An Introductory Discussion for Employers and VR Professionals

Wednesday 02/24/2021 12:00-1:15 pm



Audience: PRA Members, Businesses and VR Guests

Google searches for the term, “digital accessibility” rose over 400% in 2019;

Global Pandemic and “Stay at Home” Orders sent tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians into a remote only education/workspace. Therefore, the practical need for compliance with accessibility standards grew overnight.

This session is an INTRODUCTORY look at the roadblocks and opportunities we can each take to raise digital inclusion for people with disabilities.

Learning objectives include:

What does the online document and web experience look like for a person who uses assistive technology if it is not accessible?

How can you make your electronic communications and website more accessible?

Awareness raising examples, along with take-away tips will be provided.

Join us for this COMPLIMENTARY informational session. This REBROADCAST webinar will include: live Q&A with digital accessibility experts from The Sierra Group & facilitation by the PRA Board.

For more info contact: Jennifer M. Radick at 610.329.4814 or email jradick@pa.gov


Seeking Inclusion for Everyone Requiring Reasonable Accommodation

OnlineTraining@TheSierraGroup.com  |  888-429-2402


Good news!

The Pennsylvania Department of State is extending the deadline to provide feedback on our 2020 voter outreach and education efforts. If you have not already completed the survey, there is still time to help us understand how best to inform the public about voting and elections in Pennsylvania.

Click here to take the survey.

The new deadline is Friday, February 19, 2021.

The Pennsylvania Department of State

RCPA Finance and Reimbursement Committee meeting materials are now available on RCPA’s website. The recording and presentations are posted. We wanted to share some additional information/updates.

For many people, talking about dying can be very upsetting, emotional, and stressful. While it may be difficult, it is an important conversation to have with those close to you – whether that be family, friends, or others. Not only is it a way for you to have what you want, it can be very reassuring to those around you. By doing this, the decisions are yours and not decisions that others think you might want.

There are options available to make your wishes known in a written form. These are called advance directives. Some examples are the Pennsylvania Advance Health Care Directive and the Five Wishes document. Making a document with your end of life wishes allows you to put into writing what you want when you are at the end of life.

If you choose to complete an advance directive document, you should know that this document is able to be changed at any time in case you would like to express different wishes. It also does not become activated unless you have a condition you will not recover from and cannot communicate for yourself. As long as you can communicate your wishes, those will be honored.

It is very important to know that no one can complete an advance directive for another person even if they are the person’s health care decision maker or guardian. Only the person themselves is able to do this.

For more information.

Five Wishes


Pennsylvania Advance Health Care Directive