HIT: Fraternities and sororities on college and university campuses are allegedly there to provide friendship and connections for students who participate. Frats and sororities also do good work in the community, their supporters say. But Greek organizations have come under increasing fire over the last couple of years for fostering a heedless, drink-till-you-drop mentality that has led to death, injury and sexual assault in some circumstances. Swarthmore College near Philadelphia has decided that enough is enough. In an announcement May 10, Swarthmore president Valerie Smith announced that fraternities and sororities will no longer be allowed on campus. This followed the unearthing of documents from a fraternity that were filled with derogatory comments about women and the LGBTQ community, as well as jokes about sexual assault. Kudos to Swarthmore for deciding this is no laughing matter.
HIT: After lobbying the Legislature for a bailout, Exelon Corp. announced last week that it was shutting down the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg. Exelon and the owners of Pennsylvania’s four other nuclear power plants had asked for a $500 million package to help keep the plants afloat, despite Exelon making $2 billion in profits last year. At a moment when natural gas is cheap and abundant and renewables are fast gaining a foothold in the marketplace, keeping Three Mile Island alive doesn’t make sense, particularly since only one of its two reactors has been functioning since the partial meltdown there in 1979. Three Mile Island will have a long afterlife, though. Once it closes in the fall, the decommissioning process could take at least 60 years or more.
HIT: Saying the opioid epidemic was “manufactured by drug companies,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Tuesday announced a lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin. In a conference call to announce the suit, Shapiro said Purdue Pharma’s salespeople made tens of thousands of sales calls to prescribers every year, asking doctors “for lists of specific patients the doctors were scheduled to see and actually push them to commit to prescribing that patient Purdue drugs.” Shapiro said prescribers who did so with great regularity were “showered with gifts and meals and luxury trips, and sometimes they were just given cash.” To suggest that Purdue Pharma is solely to blame for the opioid epidemic is patently false, and the company is promising to fight back against this latest lawsuit against it, but we believe Shapiro made the right move in taking it to court.
MISS: There’s an old saying that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics, the meaning being that statistics can be used to paint whatever kind of picture the user desires, depending on how those stats are deployed. This week, the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council came out with figures on profit margins for hospitals statewide. The collective margin across the state was 4.76 percent in 2018. Locally, Washington Hospital had a margin of 3.35 percent, followed by Mon Valley Hospital at 0.40 percent, Washington Health System-Greene at minus 4.06 percent and Canonsburg Hospital (part of the Allegheny Health Network) at negative 4.88 percent. But as WHS President and CEO Gary Weinstein noted, the figures don’t take into account the overall financial standing of the health systems to which many hospitals belong. “They offer a glimpse at part of our system,” said Weinstein, “but it would be more instructive to have a more comprehensive picture.” In other words, there’s more than meets the eye in terms of the raw numbers, as is often the case.