Study into potential health impacts of Marcellus shale
2/18/2013 - Geisinger Health System - DANVILLE, Pa. – The Degenstein
Foundation has awarded Geisinger Health System a $1 million grant to
assist in underwriting its study into the potential health impacts
of Marcellus shale gas drilling.
The collaborative study is the first large-scale, scientifically
rigorous assessment of the health effects of natural gas production.
“The foundation board is always in search of innovative funding
opportunities that have the potential to better the lives of the
residents of the central Susquehanna Valley,” said Michael Apfelbaum,
co-trustee of the Degenstein Foundation.
“Geisinger’s research into the health impacts of natural gas
drilling fits perfectly with our mission and we are proud to support
this important initiative.”
“The landscape surrounding our neighbors is in a state of immense
change,” added Jeffrey Apfelbaum, co-trustee of the Degenstein
“This project will make a difference in our region as we
seek to better understand the shifts occurring around us.”
The majority of the funds from the grant will be used to underwrite
growth of the necessary data-gathering infrastructure.
also be utilized to help develop strategic studies of the data
gathered. Additional institutional partners are anticipated to help
fund this effort.
“The Degenstein Foundation’s support of this research project comes
at a critical time for the residents of Pennsylvania who live in the
Marcellus shale region,” said Glenn D. Steele Jr., M.D., Ph.D.,
president and chief executive officer at Geisinger Health System.
“The establishment of reliable and valid data regarding the
potential health impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling is
essential for informed policy decisions.”
Geisinger announced in 2012 plans to utilize its extensive
electronic health record, along with the electronic health records
of Guthrie Health, of Sayre, Pa., and Susquehanna Health, of
Williamsport, Pa., to investigate the potential health effects of
Marcellus shale gas drilling.
The study will look at detailed health histories of hundreds of
thousands of patients who live near the Marcellus shale, a rock
formation in which energy companies have already drilled about 5,000
natural gas wells.
Guthrie Health and Susquehanna Health will collaborate with
Geisinger in the planning and execution of the study, including the
development of a health surveillance network intended to capture,
assess and report on the patient-level data secured by Geisinger,
Guthrie and Susquehanna via electronic health record, and make this
data available for research purposes.
The goal is to create a cross-disciplinary, integrated, and sharable
repository of data on environmental exposures, health outcomes, and
community impacts of Marcellus shale drilling – the first systematic
longitudinal study to do so.
Some of the potential health effects that are likely to be
investigated first include asthma, trauma and cardiovascular
Preliminary results of data analysis may be released within
the next year, while other aspects of the research will unfold over
five, 10 or 20 years.
About the Degenstein Foundation
The Degenstein Foundation was created by generosity of Charles B.
Degenstein to improve the quality of life and to provide financial
support to organizations with clear statements of purpose, well
defined programs, and competent leadership.
Special consideration is given to unique, innovative, and creative
projects that benefit children, promote education, improve health
care, encourage business, culture, conservation of nature resources,
and protection of the environment. Sidney Apfelbaum is co-trustee of
the Degenstein Foundation along with his sons, Michael and Jeffrey,
as well as BNY Mellon Bank.
About Geisinger Health System
Geisinger is an integrated health services organization widely
recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record,
and the development and implementation of innovative care models
including ProvenHealth Navigator, an advanced medical home model,
and ProvenCare program.
The system serves more than 2.6 million
residents throughout 42 counties in central and northeastern
For more information, visit www.geisinger.org.
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