Infectious Diseases – Patient Care and Treatment
Care for adults and children
We’re experts in treating infectious diseases in people of all ages, with a special focus on HIV/AIDS.
Our physicians are board-certified in both internal medicine and infectious diseases.
Our patient care includes:
- Inpatient consultations for patients with known or suspected infections
- Outpatient consultation and care of patients at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center who have complicated, unusual, or difficult to manage infections
- Outpatient continuity care at Hershey Medical Center and satellite clinics in Altoona, Carlisle, Lebanon and Lewistown for patients living with HIV
Read our fact sheets on common infections.
The Pediatric Infectious Diseases Division is part of Penn State Health Pediatrics. Care is provided for both in-patients and outpatients who have known or suspected infections.
We evaluate children with infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS and immune system disorders, and recurrent infections such as earache, sinusitis, pneumonia, and strep throat.
We also evaluate children with recurrent or persistent fever, lymphadenopathy, bone and joint infections, skin infections, and viral infections including hepatitis and infectious mononucleosis.
Our other areas of interest include physicals for newly adopted foreign children, and evaluation and treatment for chronic fatigue and immunity-related problems.
OPT-IN for Life HIV/AIDS Specialized Care Services, our HIV/AIDS program, has provided expert HIV care since the mid-1980s.
Our cross-functional team includes physicians, a nurse practitioner, nurse coordinators, case managers, a dietician, and a substance abuse/prevention counselor. We use the vast resources of Penn State Hershey Medical Center to provide all medical and surgical specialty services for our patients.
We have been a funded “Part C Early Intervention Services” site since 2000. Since that time, we’ve seen our active population increase dramatically from 371 to almost 800 patients. Additionally, we have improved care by addressing all aspects of primary care medicine and providing comprehensive case management with the assistance of our partner, Alder Health Services (formerly AIDS Community Alliance).
Our principal care site is in the Penn State Cancer Institute. We chose this site so that our patients can be folded into the larger patient population. This allows for better anonymity and confidentiality.
To address the healthcare needs of HIV-infected individuals living far from Hershey, we have established sites of care at strategically located sites in the region. Our specialized care team sees adult patients in:
- Harrisburg (Front Street practice site)
- Lebanon (Department of Health)
- Carlisle (Sadler Health Center)
- Lewistown (PA Dept. of Health)
- Altoona (PA Dept. of Health)
We see HIV-infected children at Hershey Medical Center and at sites in Lancaster and Reading.
Ryan White Care Act: Healthcare Assistance
Through the Ryan White Care act, we can assist HIV-infected individuals who are uninsured, or under-insured. Our case managers are expert in helping our patients identify and apply for all available government health benefits.
For example many HIV-infected individuals can qualify for the Special Pharmaceutical Benefits Program (SPBP) that provides payment for most needed medications. Additionally, for individuals demonstrating a financial need, we have a sliding fee scale and a yearly cap on out-of-pocket expenses. In some cases medical expenses for all outpatient HIV-related care can be completely paid for – or at least greatly reduced.
In order to qualify for financial assistance, individuals must provide certain financial information to one of our case managers within sixty days of our request. This information includes monthly and annual income from all sources. (Individuals are not required to provide this information to receive medical care. However financial assistance is available only if the requested financial information is provided). Our case managers are always available to assist and answer questions.
Providing high quality care has been our focus since the beginning.
Our unique clinical information tool, QuickData, allows us to carefully track the quality of care at our program. Using QuickData we are able to carefully measure and follow 18 quality indicators and 4 outcome measures for our patient population.
We believe our most important outcome measure is the percentage of our patients receiving combination antiretroviral therapy whose viral loads are below 400 copies/mL (undetectable). In 2013, 87% of our patients met this criteria meaning that their HIV infection is fully controlled. For these patients, we have every reason to believe that their HIV infection will remain fully controlled indefinitely, as long as they remain on medications.
We want them to lead normal lives. Our goal is 100 percent.
Another important outcome measure is the number of AIDS-related complications experienced by our patient population. In our most recent calendar year, we recorded a total of 15 AIDS-related complications. (10 of them developed in patients new to the program, in most cases the event that brought them to their HIV diagnosis.) For our existing population of nearly 800 patients, there were only five AIDS-related complications. We believe this is a strong indicator of our high quality of care.
The Penn State Health Travel Clinic, part of the Division of Infectious Diseases, offers up-to-date information, vaccines and antibiotics for business travelers, students, missionaries, and individual and group vacationers.
We provide the latest information about the country or countries you’ll be visiting in the form of a personalized Traveler Health Report. This report details recommended vaccinations, risks for infectious diseases, personal safety risks, modes of travel within each country, cultural and religious laws and customs, and embassy and consular information.
Pre-travel vaccinations may also be administered during a visit, and prescriptions given for recommended antibiotics. We have extensive travel experience, and can provide unique travel insight about most parts of the world.
Prepare in advance
Prepare for your travel well in advance of your trip. For some trips, especially those to the developing world, vaccinations should be given several weeks before traveling. We suggest that you schedule your travel clinic visit at least one month in advance of your trip.
Most medical insurers will not cover the medical costs of travel services. These can include the cost of the visit and the cost of vaccinations. Vaccinations can be very expensive. It’s always best to contact your insurer before your visit to determine what may be covered. Please be prepared to pay for all charges at the time of your visit.
Pre-travel advice on immunizations and other precautions is provided by the Travel Clinic, 1711 N. Front St., Harrisburg. Appointments may be scheduled by calling our CareLine at 800-243-1455.