Friday, 24 October 2014 13:32

Amber Vinson Confirmed Ebola-Free

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A couple of days after Amber Vinson's family announced she no longer had signs of Ebola in her body, the diagnosis has been confirmed.

Emory University Hospital in Atlanta posted the news on its Twitter account, in a joint statement with the Centers for Disease Control:

 The hospital says supportive care for Vinson will continue there, and that there's no date for Vinson's release yet.

Vinson, an Akron native and 2003 graduate of Firestone High School, cared for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Dallas' Texas Presbyterian Hospital.

She traveled to Akron October 10th through the 13th to prepare for her wedding, and was diagnosed with Ebola October 15th in Dallas.

163 contacts of Vinson during her visit to Ohio are being monitored in some form, including 41 in Summit County. Three are still in quarantine, including two in Summit County.

The monitoring period is expected to last until November 4th.

Thursday, 23 October 2014 18:14

Akron Schools Give Ebola Situation A Visual

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Numbers about the Ebola situation in Summit County are easy to find, but the Akron Public Schools are making those numbers easier to understand.

APS deputy superintendent Ellen McWilliams and head of elementary education Mary Kelly sketched out a "teaching tool" of concentric circles.

APS communications director Mark Williamson says it was made into a graphic that shows in visual terms how the Ebola situation in Akron affects the area and the schools.

"Exactly how many people, what state they're in in terms whether they're being monitored, whether the health department knows about them," Williamson explains, "are they part of our school system, do they live in the county."

Williamson says the graphic is much easier to grasp than a lengthy, wordy document.

"We need some teaching tool for this, which is what teachers do," Williamson says. "They think of ways to convey concepts and ideas without having to write 700 words in a document."

The Akron district has a section with Ebola information on its website.

Thursday, 23 October 2014 15:51

SummaCare CEO Leaving

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The head of SummaCare is leaving at the end of this year.

Martin Hauser will leave his job as chief executive officer of Summa Health System's insurance division on December 31st, a Summa spokesman confirms to

Hauser has also been chief government relations officer for the Akron-based health care system. He'll leave at the same time as Summa president and CEO Thomas Strauss, who will retire at the end of the year. Strauss announced his retirement in August.

Hauser headed a not-for-profit joint venture between Akron City Hospital and medical staff members, Akron City Health System, when he oversaw the creation of SummaCare.



8/19/14: Strauss To Retire As Summa CEO

A former Copley resident is facing a seven-count indictment on charges that he stole more than $1.5 million from health-care plans he administered and using the money to pay for bonuses, operating expenses, luxury car leases and a country club membership

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio announced the indictment Thursday afternoon. 61-year-old Robert Hartenstein was indicted on seven counts of theft from a health benefit program.

In 1994, Hartenstein in started Professional Benefits Association (PBA), a Cuyahoga Falls company that was a third-party administrator of health care plan benefits.


(News Release - U.S. Attorney's Office) A seven-count indictment was filed today accusing a former Copley resident of stealing more than $1.5 million from health-care plans he administered and using the money to pay for bonuses, operating expenses, luxury car leases and a country club membership, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

Robert Hartenstein, 61, was indicted of seven counts of theft from a health benefit program.

"This defendant was entrusted with millions of dollars to pay for hospital stays and medical tests, but instead betrayed that trust and used his clients' money for fancy cars, lavish entertainment and his own business operations," Dettelbach said.

Hartenstein in 1994 started Professional Benefits Association (PBA), a company that was a third-party administrator of health care plan benefits. It was located in Cuyahoga Falls and had a branch office in Austintown. Hartenstein was the majority owner, chief executive officer and chairman and secretary of its board of directors.
PBA had several clients that were companies which sponsored self-funded health care benefit plans for their employees. These companies hired PBA and paid it a fee to administer their benefit plans. Hartenstein knew PBA was required by law and by contract to establish individual segregated bank accounts for each of the client companies to hold, in trust, the funds the companies sent to PBA to pay claims from medical service providers, according to the indictment.

From at least 2000 through 2010, Hartenstein caused, authorized and directed expenditures from PBA's operating account. Such expenditures included salaries and periodic bonuses to Hartenstein and PBA employees, payments to lease luxury cars and a country club membership Hartenstein used and an entertainment account Hartenstein used, according to the indictment.

A PBA employee identified in the indictment only as L.W. began regularly depositing plan funds from the companies into the PBA operating account instead of depositing those funds into the companies' respective segregated trust accounts, as required by law and PBA's contracts with the companies. This improper comingling of funds was done with Hartenstein's knowledge, according to the indictment.

Hartenstein learned in 2008 or earlier that PBA did not have sufficient funds to pay the medical service provide claims for which the companies had already provided funds in trust to PBA. When he learned of the shortfalls, Hartenstein directed PBA employees to withhold payments from service providers for increasing periods of time. Employees made up excuses for the delays at Hartenstein's direction, according to the indictment.

Hartenstein did not inform the companies of the shortfalls. Instead, he directed PBA employees to divert funds to pay for other outstanding claims. He misled PBA clients about the status of payments and why claims had not been paid. At Hartenstein's direction, PBA employees made up false excuses for lack of payment to companies or falsely claimed payment had been made, according to the indictment.

According to the indictment, the health benefit plans that Hartenstein defrauded were for the following organizations: Guyan International, Inc. dba the Permco ($501,380); Pritchard Mining Company, Inc. ($435,837); Hocking Athens Perry Community Action ($384,574); O'Bleness Memorial Hospital ($91,877); Precision Gear ($54,612); Lordstown Schools ($32,835) and the Joseph Badger Local Schools ($29,357).

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Lutzko following an investigation by U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

If convicted, the defendants' sentences will be determined by the court after a review of the federal sentencing guidelines and factors unique to the case, including the defendant's prior criminal record (if any), the defendant's role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 18:44

UPDATE Vinson's Family Says She Is Ebola-Free

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UPDATE: The family of nurse Amber Vinson released a statement to local and national media on her status, attributed to a family spokesperson:

Amber's mother, Debra Berry, spoke to her just a few hours ago. Amber is steadily regaining her strength and her spirits are high. We are overjoyed to announce that, as of yesterday evening, officials at Emory University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control are no longer able to detect virus in her body. She has also been approved for transfer from isolation. Amber remains under treatment within Emory's Serious Communicable Diseases Unit.

"Amber and our family are ecstatic to receive this latest report on her condition," Mrs. Berry said. "We all know that further treatment will be necessary as Amber continues to regain strength, but these latest developments have truly answered prayers and bring our family one step closer to reuniting with her at home."

Amber is committed to continuing to work closely with the doctors at Emory and following their guidance until she has fully recovered. She and our family would like to thank the entire team at Emory, as well as Amber's colleagues at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas for their continued support throughout her treatment.

We appreciate everyone for keeping Amber in your thoughts and prayers.




(Earlier coverage) A report says Amber Vinson's family says she has no sign of the Ebola virus at this time.

ABC News reports that the family issued a statement to them on Wednesday evening.

"We are overjoyed to announce that, as of yesterday [Tuesday] evening, officials at Emory University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control are no longer able to detect virus in her body," ABC quotes the statement.

ABC adds that the family says Vinson should be able to leave the isolation unit.

"Amber and our family are ecstatic to receive this latest report on her condition," ABC quotes Vinson's mother, Debra Berry, in a statement. "We all know that further treatment will be necessary as Amber continues to regain strength, but these latest developments have truly answered prayers and bring our family one step closer to reuniting with her at home."


On the Web: ABC News,


Wednesday, 22 October 2014 17:39

Health Officials On Ebola: We're Ready If Cases Come

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Another day, and there are still no confirmed Ebola cases in Ohio.

The latest update Wednesday from the Ohio Department of Health shows 41 people are being monitored in Summit County, including the same 2 people that are still in quarantine. 161 contacts of nurse Amber Vinson are being monitored in Ohio.

Summit County health commissioner Gene Nixon says as each day goes by, the local health care system is better prepared for any possible Ebola case, or for other diseases.

"Hospitals, our first responders and our public health system continue to develop protocols, procedures and policies," Nixon said on a conference call with reporters, "and to train and drill to best address Ebola, and other emerging and infectious diseases."

Nixon says if a current contact develops significant symptoms, local health care providers would be able to accurately evaluate, transport and care for that person through the screening period.

If no Ebola cases develop, area contacts of Vinson should be cleared by November 4th.

Calls to the Summit County Ebola hotline - 330-926-3939 - are a fraction of what they were a week ago, with call levels at about 25 per day...compared to 300 to 400 per day when the hotline was put into place.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 13:47

Ford Guilty Of Schobert Murders

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It's guilty for Shawn Ford Jr. -- perhaps not a surprise given his admission for the beating and stabbing death of Peg and Jeffrey Schobert in their New Franklin home. What was surprising is the three days worth of deliberations taken by the jury, including removing two jurors.

Ford, 20, could get the death penalty Monday when this same jury returns Monday to being the sentencing phase. Ford's lawyers had offered guilty pleas in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table but prosecutors said the Schobert family would not agree.

The Schobert's were found stabbed and bludgeoned to death in April 2013; Ford had dated their youngest daughter, Chelsea and the Schobert's wanted the relationship ended after she wound up beaten in the hospital. Construction workers on the home off Rex Lake in New Franklin found the bodies in a bedroom of the home. 

The Beacon Journal reports Ford's mother wept when the verdict was announced. Jessica Schobert, the eldest daughter of the victims, did not comment following the decision from the jury. A gag order on both sides was imposed by Summit County Common Pleas Judge Tom Parker.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 18:14

Man Accused Of Groping Akron City Hospital Nurse

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A Euclid man allegedly groped an Akron City Hospital nurse Sunday evening.

The Plain Dealer reports Antwon K. Chatman was being wheeled into a room within the emergency room when he grabbed the nurse.

Chatman, 21, is charged with third-degree misdemeanor sexual imposition.  He posted his $1,000 bond Tuesday in Akron Municipal Court. 

Chatman was convicted earlier this year for possessing a replica firearm, for which he was sentenced to serve 90 days in jail. 

Summit County health officials say there are still no Ebola cases in the county.

"We are doing regular monitoring of all of our contacts, all of those tiered contacts," Summit County health commissioner Gene Nixon told a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, "and currently, today, all of those contacts are healthy, and there's no Ebola in Summit County."

The numbers Tuesday in Summit County didn't change much - 42 contacts with nurse Amber Vinson, 40 of them in some form of monitoring and two still in quarantine. 159 are being monitored statewide, with still one quarantine case in Cuyahoga County.

Donna Skoda with Summit County Public Health says most new reported contacts are coming from those who were at Akron's Coming Attractions bridal shop, when Vinson was there a week ago Saturday.

"What we're finding is that most of the contact that we're adding now are bridal shop contacts that we in the past were not able to make contact with," Skoda says. "And we're finally being able to contact them."

Nixon says there have been over 1,200 calls to the county's Ebola hotline - 330-926-3939 - but that number has "dropped significantly".

He says the hotline is now getting about 25 calls a day, down from 300 to 400 a day at the beginning.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 14:10

Buck Gets Life For Murder Of Stow Roommate

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The Stow woman convicted of murdering her roommate has been sentenced to up to life in prison.

45 year-old Roxanne Buck got a 15 year-to-life prison sentence in the court of Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands, and also got sentenced to three additional consecutive years for tampering with evidence.

Buck fatally stabbed 21 year-old Michelle Johnson on March 14th in her Stow home.

Police found Johnson's body hidden under blankets in a backyard shed.

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