Fairlawn will gain nearly 500 employees when the new Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Hospital opens in mid-2020.

The physician-owned Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center announced this week that it is building a 60-bed hospital facility for orthopedic and plastic surgery patients. The planned four-story building in the 3500 block of Embassy Parkway also will have 12 operating rooms, expanded imaging services and Quickcare, an urgent orthopedic clinic that will move down the street from the existing Crystal Clinic outpatient campus.

The $100 million new facility has been a goal for the physician owners of the Crystal Clinic since 2008, when the clinic created a joint venture with Summa Health, Crystal Clinic President and CEO Ronald Suntken said. Construction began for a planned six-floor, 72-bed orthopedic facility on the campus of Summa’s Akron City Hospital, but plans were halted with the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 and never resumed. Summa sold its 49.65 percent stake to an independent, third-party investor in 2014.

“We’ve never wavered once in our commitment to building a new facility,” Suntken said. “It was just a matter of where we would be and exactly what would be the size and scope of services.”

Since 2009, the Crystal Clinic has been leasing about 130,000 square feet on six floors at Summa’s St. Thomas Hospital in Akron.

Suntken said the group looked at many locations to build new and move its inpatient operations.

The 12-acre parcel on Embassy Parkway, while not directly next to the existing two Crystal Clinic buildings, is close enough for benefits, Suntken said. It also is close to interstate access, with access points at both ends of Embassy Parkway, he said.

The clinic has about 460 employees now and will be adding roughly 30 support staff, such as food service, building service and environmental service employees, who are now shared with Summa. Some new imaging service technicians also will be added, Suntken said.

“St. Thomas has been a great location for us,” Suntken said. But while patient satisfaction surveys have been good “for a 90-year-old facility” at St. Thomas, “we know [those scores] will be much improved once we move to a new facility,” he said.

Summa officials said no plans have been made for the space that will be vacated at St. Thomas when Crystal Clinic moves out in a couple of years.

The new orthopedic hospital, which will have both inpatient and outpatient orthopedic and plastic surgeries, may be the only free-standing specialty orthopedic hospital in Ohio, Suntken said.

Crystal Clinic doctors will continue to perform surgeries that require a postsurgery intensive-care unit at local full-service hospitals.

Crystal Clinic has 12 locations and about 900 employees. They currently employ 41 physicians with two more joining in the fall, Suntken said.

On Tuesday, the Revere Local School Board approved a tax increment financing agreement for the property. (While the land is in Fairlawn, it is in the Revere school district.) As part of the agreement, which still needs to be approved by Fairlawn City Council, Revere will receive 50 percent of property taxes based off the property and building estimated at $56 million.

That is estimated to be $460,000 per year for the first 10 years. After the 10th year, the schools will receive $920,000 a year. Additionally, the district will also receive an incentive payment of $250,000, made before June 30, for its upcoming building project.

Since the property is in a tax-sharing district between Fairlawn and Akron, the 2 percent income tax collected by Fairlawn will be split equally with Akron, said Fairlawn Mayor William Roth. The updated payroll for the new hospital is expected to be $20 million, so each city would receive $200,000 a year.

Roth said there were no incentives offered to Crystal Clinic, though there are some discussions to upgrade the road for higher traffic.

The project is “a very big benefit for the region. It’s a great investment. It’s not just something for Fairlawn, but for the region and an upgrade in medical care,” Roth said.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said: “we had a long, and open dialogue with Crystal Clinic in which we presented and discussed several viable options for them to build a new clinic in the city of Akron. Ultimately, they selected Embassy Parkway and we wish them success with this new facility. We will be available as collaborative support for Summa Health as they explore productive future uses for the St. Thomas facility.”

Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

The Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center is building a new specialty hospital in Fairlawn.

The 160,000-square foot facility with 60 inpatient beds and 12 operating rooms is expected to open in mid-2020, down the street on Embassy Parkway from its existing outpatient facility. It will also feature an urgent orthopaedic clinic, imaging and other support services.

The hospital will move its services from space it currently leases from Summa Health at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron.

“We spent the first half of 2017 developing a business plan that included the project scope, timeline and projected cost. After much consideration, we selected this location in Fairlawn, close to our existing outpatient locations, because it will be easily accessible for patients throughout Northeast Ohio,” said Ronald Suntken, president and CEO of Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center, in a news release.

The project should take 20 to 24 months with move-in an occupancy anticipated by mid-2020, he said. Construction is expected to start in the spring on the facility at 3517 Embassy Parkway.

Crystal Clinic officials were not available for further comment Tuesday evening.

The press release did not list financials for the project, but also on Tuesday night, the Revere Local School Board approved a tax increment financing agreement with the Crystal Clinic.

As part of the agreement with the schools, which still needs to be approved by Fairlawn City Council, the property and building project are estimated to be a minimum of $56 million though Crystal Clinic officials told Revere school officials that the full project, including equipment could top $90 million.

As part of the agreement, Revere will receive 50 percent of property taxes based off that $56 million, estimated to be $460,000 per year for the first 10 years. After year 10, the schools will receive $920,000 a year. Revere Superintendent Matthew Montgomery said the district will also receive an incentive payment of $250,000, made before June 30.

“The Revere school district is excited to partner with the Crystal Clinic and the city of Fairlawn to ensure that the Clinic stays in the community for years to come,” Montgomery said. “The support they’re able to offer the community in terms of patient care is expanding as well as increasing the financial stability of the district,” he said.

Fairlawn Mayor William Roth, reached at home Tuesday evening, said Akron and Fairlawn will get an equal share of income tax revenue from the new hospital because the property is in a tax-sharing district.

“It’s a huge investment,” Roth said.

Crystal Clinic Chairman of the Board Dr. Gordon Bennett said the clinic was proud to be “owned by local physicians who are focused on optimally serving our patients’ needs.”

The Clinic has been leasing space from Summa Health inside St. Thomas Hospital in Akron for its inpatient hospital operations. Summa was a part owner of the Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center until the health system sold its 49.65 percent stake to an independent, third-party investor in 2014.

The Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center joint venture between the doctors and Summa originally planned to construct a six-floor, 72-bed orthopedic facility on the west side of Akron City Hospital on Adolph Street between East Market and Forge streets. However, construction halted in 2009 and never resumed.

Summa spokesman Mike Bernstein said “congratulations to everyone at the Crystal Clinic. We wish them all the best moving forward. Regarding St. Thomas, we are continuing to review future options for the facility, but no decisions have been made.”

Beacon Journal/Ohio.com writer Rick Armon and correspondent Jody Miller also contributed to this report. Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter.

Parents should talk to their young kids and teens in an age-appropriate manner when discussing their feelings and potential fears surrounding events such as school shootings or threats, a local psychiatrist said.

“I’m a mom, too,” said Dr. Sumru Bilge-Johnson, director of Akron Children’s Hospital’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Program and a child and adolescent psychiatrist. “Everybody’s security is right now shaken. It’s now everywhere like a virus spreading, it’s a threat spreading. Kids are feeling unsafe. Parents are feeling unsafe,” she said.

One of the first things to do, especially with younger children, is to start the conversation, said Bilge-Johnson.

“Don’t expect them to bring it to us,” she said. Ask “what do they know, how do they feel? Make sure they know it’s safe to talk and to talk about how impacted they are about this.”

Be sure to have the facts, since there may be misinformation spreading, and be sure as the parent, adult or teacher to stay calm when discussing it, she said.

“If parents are really anxious and freaked out, kids really pick up on our vulnerabilities,” Bilge-Johnson said.

Take kids’ worries and fears seriously. Students can be affected by the news whether they were in the school building where something happened, or just heard about it on the news or through social media, she said.

“Proximity is always a factor of how much a kid can be traumatized, but you can have an anxious kid in another county or another school,” she said.

Keep the conversation age-appropriate.

If it’s a preschooler, for instance, ask what they’ve heard or what they’re worried about and that will give you context, Bilge-Johnson said. The preschooler may have heard that “bad things happened at school” and the information is limited.

“Leave it limited and don’t give them information that is too much for them to comprehend or process” while “giving them a sense of safety, security and support.”

Bilge-Johnson also suggests limiting exposure to constant TV coverage of the incidents. Kids can be traumatized by hearing too much about it and Bilge-Johnson also cautions about “live” reports, which may have information that could be disturbing to kids.

If you do watch something, watch it together with your child so that you’re there to answer questions, she said.

Parents also should expect that some teens may say they’re fine, the doctor said, but keep an eye out for any unusual behavior.

“Are they sleeping OK? Is there any change in their emotional reactions, eating, schoolwork or are they getting more withdrawn? If it’s happening, check with their school counselor to see if they need a mental health check or if they are getting traumatized by this event,” she said.

Doing something positive as a community or in small groups can also help, Bilge-Johnson suggested.

“Sometimes they only see the bad things,” she said. “Yes, these bad things happen, but we still have so much good.”

Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter.

Akron police have arrested an Ellet High School student who threatened to re-create the mass shooting that killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla., last week.

In Green, a 14-year-old is accused of posting images of a handgun on social media this week and threatening the lives of school students.

Alliance High School went on lockdown Tuesday afternoon amid social media rumors speculating on yet another gun threat.

The string of threats against local schools following last Wednesday’s shooting in Florida doesn’t surprise mental health experts.

When adolescents are exposed to events such as school shootings or suicide or threats, there is often a copycat or “contagion effect,” said Dr. Sumru Bilge-Johnson, director of Akron Children’s Hospital’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Program and a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

“They are in this developmental stage where they are very prone to imitating, if they can see this event as a way of being not popular, but being known in that way,” she said. “They can really pick up on this and try to imitate this for different reasons.”

For middle school and high school students, with social media, TV and peer groups, they can be prone to these copycat type instances, “especially children who have some type of vulnerability,” Bilge-Johnson said.

In the Ellet case, a 16-year-old student, who is a minor and has not been named, was transported to the juvenile detention center on Dan Street at 2 p.m. Monday in Akron.

A message posted on his Snapchat account 14 hours earlier, between midnight and 12:08 a.m., had carried the threat “I hate people, Florida pt. 2?”

The student has been charged with terroristic threat, a third-degree felony.

Akron Police Lt. Rick Edwards said the boy “admitted to making the threat” after “indicating that he was going to shoot up Ellet High School.”

Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson said student privacy laws prohibit the district from discussing the Ellet student’s situation, including whether he has been banned from school pending an internal investigation that could lead to disciplinary action.

Also Monday, an area student reported a scary message that looked new on Facebook.

The post, a screen shot of a text message from an unidentified source, said that on Feb. 15 “an unknown person would come to Firestone high school and shoot up with an AK-47 [rifle], and a Glock 17 [handgun], nerve gas and a pressure cooker explosive,” Edwards said.

The threat, however, was a year old, appearing online months after the school and others in America were rattled by social media rumors of a killer clown terrorizing schools.

There’s still no suspect in connection to the Firestone threat for an attack on Feb. 15, which never came to pass this year or last.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office says it was alerted Sunday to threats made by a former Green Middle School student who now lives in Bedford. The youth allegedly posted images of a handgun on Instagram and threatened to shoot Green students during an online argument.

Sheriff’s spokesman Bill Holland declined to comment on the nature of the argument.

The boy, whose name was not released, has been charged with telecommunications harassment, a first-degree misdemeanor, and taken to the Summit County Juvenile Detention Center.

Authorities said he did not possess any firearms.

Meanwhile, Capt. James Hillis of the Alliance Police Department said a nonstudent member of the community shared a Facebook conversation in which users feared a shooting would take place at the high school at 2 p.m. Tuesday

No incidents were reported.

“Obviously, we don’t want to not take it seriously and see something happen,” said Hillis, who has found no evidence tracing the “vague rumors” to any individual. “We don’t know that it’s not 100 percent reliable. But we haven’t found any credible information that it is.”

Authorities have linked the state of alarm in Alliance to the broader hysteria gripping the nation.

“Obviously, this is related to everything that is going on this week,” Hillis said.

Beacon Journal/Ohio.com staff writers Betty Lin-Fisher and Rick Armon contributed to this report. Reach Doug Livingston at 330-996-3792 or [email protected]. Follow him @ABJDoug on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/doug.livingston.92 on Facebook.

When Stephanie Storm Lariccia adopted her African-American son at 16 days old, she saw no difference in the color of their skin, just that she wanted to be a mother.

Lariccia, who is Caucasian, would soon find out that the reason she and her then husband, an African-American man, had gotten the phone call to adopt so quickly in California was that out of a group of 10 couples, “we were the only ones who said yes to any race. That floored me.”

Race would come to play a role over and over in the lives of Lariccia and her now 17-year-old son, Justice Jozic. The mother-son pair shared their story during a presentation Sunday afternoon at the Our Lady of the Elms Motherhouse. Their talk, “Realities of Transracial Adoption: Challenges and Perceptions” was a segment in the “Building Racial Harmony” series, hosted by the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates Northeast Ohio Racial Justice Committee.

While Lariccia and Justice now have a good relationship with his birth mother through an open adoption, race also played a role early on after Lariccia divorced her first husband when Justice was 1 year old and the birth family sued for custody. The family said they had chosen the couple to adopt Justice because his adopted father was African-American.

After Lariccia won the court case, Justice’s birth mother asked if he was OK through Lariccia’s lawyer.

“I said he’s wonderful, when do you want to see him? She’s like a daughter to me,” said Lariccia, who was a sports journalist for more than 20 years, including at the Beacon Journal, and is currently completing a master’s degree in social work at Case Western Reserve University.

Throughout the 90-minute presentation, sprinkled with questions from the audience, they were honest about their relationship, how others have perceived them and their highs and lows.

Justice’s birth mother, who is a now a professional basketball player, visits the family in Akron and Justice has also spent time with her and her family in another state.

The mother and son also discussed the challenges of Justice being raised by a white couple.

“Every week practically, people are asking me questions,” said Justice, a junior at Archbishop Hoban High School, where he serves as a student ambassador and plays on the basketball and lacrosse teams.

Justice said he’s often asked if he knows who his biological mom is and how he balances his mother being a different race.

“Over time, I’ve learned to juggle it back and forth,” he said.

Still, though, Justice said he faces challenges, particularly as he has begun dating. He recently dated a Caucasian girlfriend and got some negative response from African-American friends that he’s not “dating one of us.”

“I see myself split between two ‘us’-es,” Justice said.

Lariccia said she’s also tried to make sure that she honored and at times immersed Justice in the African-American community. Since Justice was young, they have attended Arlington Church of God.

“I asked myself ‘what kinds of things can I do to put him in situations where he wasn’t the minority?’ ” Lariccia said. “It also taught me what it felt like to be a minority.”

And Lariccia said she had to have the difficult talk with her son about his being an African-American male, especially when it came time for him to drive.

Even though the family has many friends in law enforcement and Lariccia said she knows her son has been raised to respect law enforcement, she told him “I know you don’t see black and white like others do. When you get pulled over, you’d better believe you are a black man. Odds are, [Justice] will just be seen as just a black male [rather] than just a high school kid from Hoban,” she said.

Justice said being raised in a predominantly white Catholic school background in the age of police brutality, he’s been asked “what side are you on?”

“I’m trying to be on both sides. I’m trying to balance being African-American and carry a sometimes Caucasian personality and view of things,” he said.

Lariccia said the experiences and skills her son is building by bridging different cultures will help him as an adult.

“It’s hurts to hear he has to think that much about things. We both hope there’s a day when you don’t. But I think owning it and bringing it out and thinking about it is what really helps with racial harmony.”

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

A Jackson Township doctor is facing a 272-count indictment —including two counts of involuntary manslaughter — for allegations that he operated a “pill mill” linked to the deaths of at least two patients.

A Stark County grand jury handed down the indictment against Frank D. Lazzerini, Stark County Prosecutor John D. Ferrero said in a statement Friday morning.

Lazzerini is accused of operating a pill mill that improperly doled out powerful painkillers at his medical practice, Premiere Family Practice on Fulton Drive NW in Jackson Township.

The charges resulted from an investigation by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the Jackson Township Police Department, and the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office with the Stark County Sheriff Metropolitan Narcotics Unit, the Ohio Attorney General, the Ohio Medical Board and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier said the collaborative investigation “reflects a strict no-tolerance policy for lethal activity.

“Lazzerini took advantage of his position and directly contributed to creating a dangerous environment for his patients and the community,” Maier said. “We remain dedicated to removing these dangerous criminals from our streets and to keeping the communities we serve safe.”

The doctor’s office was raided two years ago by local and state officials, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office reported.

The charges include: one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, one count of telecommunications fraud, one count of grand theft, one count of medicaid fraud, one count of tampering with records, nine counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs with major drug offender specifications, 81 counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs, 89 counts of trafficking in drugs and 86 counts of illegal processing of drugs documents.

Lazzerini also was indicted on two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of two of his patients due to his prescribing, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“The Stark County Prosecutor’s Office intends to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law rogue physicians who, by acting for profit, abuse their great privilege and noble profession by fueling our county’s opioid addiction and causing needless harm to our citizens,” Ferrero’s office said in a statement.

Lazzerini agreed to give up his medical license indefinitely in June 2016 and admitted he was the subject of a criminal investigation related to the prescribing of controlled substances in his practice, according to a consent agreement with the State Medical Board of Ohio.

Summa Health lost money last year, but the Akron-based health system didn’t lose as much as it predicted.

For the 12 months ending Dec. 31, Summa said its operating loss was $28 million, according to public financial disclosures posted this week on a website for bond holders.

In late June, Summa Interim CEO Dr. Cliff Deveny warned that the hospital was projecting a $60 million loss for the year and that if the hospital didn’t get on solid financial footing following turmoil that began earlier in the year, the hospital could be the target of a potential sale.

However, in mid-November, when Summa’s credit worthiness was downgraded by a national credit rating agency and the financial outlook of the system was revised from stable to negative, Deveny said the system expected to end the year with a loss of $35 million.

The hospital stemmed that loss by $7 million. By comparison, the hospital made $29.5 million for the year in 2016.

Summa Interim Chief Financial Officer Thomas O’Neill said the health system was “more aggressive in right-sizing the organization” with cuts in staffing and operations during the second and third quarter of the year.

In June, Summa officials said they would eliminate about 300 positions — about half of which were filled at the time — and would discontinue and consolidate some services.

In November and December, the health system saw “a little more activity” though “I wouldn’t say we were extremely profitable,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill said the flu and other respiratory illnesses spiked near the end of December, accounting for some of the uptick in volume. Elective surgeries, which tend to increase toward the end of the year when patients meet their yearly insurance deductibles, also were up, but “I don’t think it was anything dramatic,” he said.

For 2017, the hospital’s revenue was $1.31 billion, down 3.9 percent or $53.1 million from $1.36 billion in 2016.

In its filing with the Electronic Municipal Market Access website, Summa said surgical cases increased 2 percent last year. All other types of care were down, including inpatient admissions (9 percent), emergency-room visits (6 percent), outpatient visits (6 percent) and observation cases (7 percent).

Summa’s total employment number is about 7,000, spokesman Mike Bernstein said. That reflects about 250 job reductions systemwide last year.

About 295 former Summa employees transitioned to a new joint venture Feb. 6 for home health care and hospice services. Another 55 employees were not included in the transition, though some found other jobs with the health system, Bernstein said.

Ben Sutton, Summa senior vice president for strategy and performance management, said Thursday the new joint venture was not “about right-sizing in any way and not part of any reduction plan. That really is about an opportunity to partner with someone for growth.”

Deveny was hired as Summa’s interim president and chief executive officer last March following the resignation of CEO Dr. Thomas Malone amid demands by hundreds of doctors for a change in leadership.

The situation was exacerbated with the abrupt changeover in Summa’s emergency room physician staffing in January 2017 and subsequent loss of accreditation to train emergency medicine resident physicians. The hospital’s overall probation of its residency programs was lifted by an accreditation agency in October and hospital officials say they are determined to get the emergency medicine residency program reinstated.

Bernstein said the search for a permanent Summa CEO is ongoing. Deveny has said he is a candidate.

Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

It’s OK to fall in love this Valentine’s Day, but Ohio’s attorney general is warning not to fall for a love-related scam.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday warned consumers to beware of online romance scams, which have been reported by several Ohio residents in recent weeks.

In 2017, about 40 Ohioans reported losing money to sweetheart scams. The average reported loss was close to $40,000.

“Sometimes online dating works out very well, but unfortunately, there are some con artists who pretend to be someone they’re not,” DeWine said in a news release. “They string people along, and at some point, they start asking for money.”

In the scam, con artists often meet their victims on social media or dating websites. They create phony profiles and communicate with their victims via text or phone, sometimes for months or years. They may send forged photos or documents in order to “prove” their identity.

Eventually, they ask for money, using a real-sounding excuse. For example, a con artist may claim to be a doctor working overseas who was robbed or a jeweler traveling in Africa who is detained after trying to board a plane with a diamond.

The con artist generally instructs the victim to send money using a wire-transfer service, money order, prepaid card, gift card or other hard-to-trace payment method. Once the money is sent, it’s difficult to recover.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office shared these tips to avoid a broken heart — and an empty bank account:

• Research someone you meet online. Don’t rely solely on what the person tells you. Search the person’s name and other details the person provides. Conduct an image search of a person’s profile picture. See if it has been used somewhere else. Don’t assume a person is trustworthy just because you met on a legitimate dating website.

• Be wary of relationships that develop very quickly. Be cautious when someone claims to love you soon after you meet online and before you have met in person. As part of the scam, some con artists send gifts or make claims about destiny or fate in order to make their feelings seem legitimate. To help protect yourself, talk to friends and family about any online relationships, even if the other person asks you to keep the relationship a secret.

• Don’t send money to someone you’ve only met online, even if you have developed a relationship with the individual. Be especially skeptical of requests for money sent via wire transfer, money order, prepaid money cards, cash or gift cards. These are preferred payment methods for scammers.

Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at http://www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.

It’s tax season and with that come tax scams.

One of the most common scams is a call that purports to be from the IRS. Remember, the IRS does not call taxpayers.

Since January, the Attorney General’s Office has received about 190 reports of tax-related scams.

“Con artists are very good at what they do,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “They rely on scare tactics and surprise. When people get scared, they do irrational things. That’s why we want people to know the warning signs. Awareness can make all the difference.”

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is sharing warnings about common scams and tips to avoid becoming a victim.

Common scams

• IRS impostor scams: This is the most common tax scam reported to the state. It generally begins with a phone call claiming you owe back taxes or that a warrant has been issued for your arrest. You’re told to call a certain number immediately, and eventually, you’re asked to send money or to provide personal information to resolve the supposed problem.

• W-2 phishing scams: This scam targets employers and payroll employees. Typically, an HR or payroll employee receives an email that appears to come from the boss or the head of the organization. The email instructs the employee to send all employees’ W-2s. Although the email may appear to be legitimate, it’s actually part of a phishing scam. (The IRS warned that this scam surged in 2017 and encouraged employers to report any W-2 thefts immediately to the IRS.)

• Tax identity theft: Tax identity theft generally occurs when someone steals your personal information to file a tax return and fraudulently obtain your refund. This year, there are extra concerns about tax identity theft because of data breaches that have exposed individuals’ Social Security numbers and other sensitive information.

Tips

• File your tax return promptly. This makes it less likely that an impostor will be able to file a tax return in your name to steal your refund.

• Don’t respond to threatening robocalls. If you receive an unexpected phone call from someone who threatens to arrest you for not paying taxes, it’s probably a scam. Don’t respond to the call, and don’t provide payment or personal information over the phone.

• Don’t pay taxes using gift cards. In IRS impostor scams, con artists often ask people to buy gift cards and then read the card numbers over the phone. Using this information, the con artists drain funds from the card, making it difficult to trace or recover the money. The real IRS won’t demand that you pay over the phone using a gift card.

• Protect your personal information. If you file your taxes online, make sure you use a secure internet connection. If you file by mail, take your completed return directly to the post office. Keep sensitive documents in a secure place. Before getting rid of any unneeded documents that contain your Social Security number or other sensitive information, shred them.

• Research tax preparers and tax-preparation companies. Before giving out any personal records or information, check a tax preparer’s credentials. For example, review information in the IRS’ directory of federal tax return preparers. Consider asking trusted friends and family for referrals.

• Watch out for phishing scams. Be wary of email messages that appear to come from your boss, your financial adviser, or your bank and ask you to provide personal information. The message may be part of a phishing scam.

Consumers who want help detecting a potential scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at http://www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515. IRS or U.S. Treasury impersonation scams can be reported to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at http://www.treasury.gov/tigta or 800-366-4484. Tax identity theft should be reported to the IRS (for federal taxes) or the Ohio Department of Taxation (for state taxes).

Beacon Journal consumer columnist and medical reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

There’s some good news for consumers who get the Standard Choice Offer (SCO) for their monthly natural gas.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on Wednesday approved the results of Dominion Energy Ohio’s yearly competitive auction to determine the formula to set its monthly SCO price.

The SCO is based on the New York Mercantile Exchange price on the third to last day in the previous month, plus the adder, which is generally anything from a few cents to a few dollars. That auction determines the “adder” price for one year. In 2016, the adder was negative 5 cents. In 2017, it was zero, which meant SCO prices were at wholesale prices.

The new adder, effective April 1, will be 7 cents. While it is a slight increase from previous years, that translates to a $7 yearly increase since the average homeowner uses 100 mcf a year, and is much better than some years, when that adder was several dollars.

Customers who are already on the SCO don’t have to do a thing. You continue to get the SCO unless you choose your own provider for a fixed rate or a variable rate from another marketer or through an aggregation, which is a government bulk-buying group. (If you received a letter recently about the NOPEC aggregation group, check out the Jan. 27 column by Betty Lin-Fisher or go to http://www.ohio.com/betty to read it.)

If you want to get on the SCO, you can also see a step-by-step guide on Betty’s web page. Every year in April, Dominion randomly re-assigns the winning bidders in the auction to customers, so you may see a new name on your bill next to the SCO, but it should make no difference to you. Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

Organizations in Akron and Summit County combatting infant mortality will share in more than $1.7 million from the Ohio Department of Medicaid to help their efforts.

The $1.74 million is part of $26.8 million in the department’s budget over the next two years to support community-driven proposals with proven track records that will help combat infant mortality at the local level, said the Ohio Department of Medicaid. That’s in addition to almost $50 million in the state’s general revenue funding and federal grants dedicated to improving birth outcomes and reducing racial and ethnic disparities.

The funding builds on almost $87  million in investments made during the past six years, the department said.

Akron is one of nine communities that the Ohio Equity Institute identified as accounting for 86 percent of black infant deaths in Ohio in 2016.

Ohio Medicaid data shows Summit County had the highest premature birth rate in the state last year and ranked fourth highest in infant deaths the year before.

The city of Akron’s initiative, Full Term First Birthday, and Summit County Public Health won the award from the state. Akron and the county health department will pass the money on to eight local organizations: Greenleaf Family Center, Akron Summit County Action Inc., Project Ujima, AxessPointe Community Health, Summa Health Centering, Minority Behavioral Health Group, Charisma Community Connections and Child Guidance & Family Solutions, Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said.

Funded projects include hiring of additional community health workers, expanding a home visiting program and piloting and expanding of centering pregnancy programs.

“We’ll be able to help these partners and its some different partners, which will be good. They all have different strategies. It all comes together to battle infant mortality,” she said.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan praised the funding to help the “infant vitality initiative to reduce premature births and end infant mortality in Akron through partnerships with over a dozen community organizations.”

The purpose of the initiative is to “move from well-intentioned collaboration to true coordination that results in more healthy moms and babies in Akron,” Horrigan said.

“Together with our community partners, Full Term First Birthday will develop current and future partnerships, including education initiatives; implement shared common metrics among service providers and pursue possible data-sharing initiatives; and seek grants and other potential sources of funding to reduce premature birth and infant mortality in Akron,” he said.

City of Akron Health Equity Ambassador Tamiyka Rose said it will be good to be able to have “everyone all in the same room sharing different ideas and coordinating with one another.

“This is another opportunity to know which women we are actually reaching and ones we are not reaching and not duplicating services,” she said.

The number of Ohio infants who died before their first birthday in 2016 was 1,024, according to data released by the Ohio Department of Health. Though Ohio’s infant mortality rates are all trending downward over time, the state’s rate — especially the black infant mortality rate —remains too high and exceeds the national average, the Ohio Department of Medicaid said.

The city’s Full Term First Birthday is working on three goals:

• Premature births among African-Americans — the leading cause of infant mortality — can be cut in half by 2025.

• Preventable sleep-related deaths can be eliminated.

• Institutions should acknowledge and correct structural racism with cultural competency and other training.

Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

Dominion Energy Ohio’s monthly natural gas price for residential customers who are on the Standard Choice Offer is going up for February, but the utility said forecasts show the increase is temporary.

Short-term prices have temporarily surged with the cold weather, but extended forecasts indicate a return to prices below $3 per thousand cubic feet later this year, the utility said.

The utility also said it has ample supply of stored natural gas.

Effective Feb. 14, the SCO will be $3.63 per thousand cubic feet (mcf). That’s 89 cents/mcf or 32 percent higher than the January rate or $2.74. It is 29 cents/mcf or 8.7 percent higher than the price a year ago, but still 13.5 cents or 3.6 percent lower than the five-year February average of $3.77/mcf.

The average customer’s bill for the month of February would be $97.82, up $5.32, or 5.8 percent, from $92.50 in February 2017.

All customers pay a fixed $27.71 for the basic monthly charge, a usage-based charge, to transport the gas to your home, and gross-receipts tax. That usage-based charge is currently 32 cents/mcf.

Consumer columnist Betty Lin-Fisher continues to recommend the SCO. Go to http://www.ohio.com/betty to see a step-by-step guide.

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

The flu is still making its rounds and on Friday morning, it even delayed school.

The snow wasn’t the cause of a two-hour bus delay for most buses at the Kimpton Middle School in Stow, but a shortage of bus drivers hit with the flu.

The Stow-Munroe Falls City School District had to delay 17 routes by two hours Friday at the middle school.

The district sent an email and phone alert to parents saying buses would be late for the middle school only.

“With the shortage of substitute bus drivers available, coupled with the influenza outbreak, our bus system has become stressed where some level of relief had to take place to avoid a more serious delay,” Mark Fritz, the district’s director of operations, said in an email to parents. “All available bus drivers have been asked to come to the bus garage immediately for reassignment.”

“We apologize for this inconvenience but we are working to get all children to school safely,” he said.

The Stow-Munroe Falls district isn’t the only one affected. Streetsboro schools in Portage County on Thursday also reported it was forced to combine some routes because drivers were out sick with the flu.

“Some buses may be later than usual or have different drivers than what you and your students are used to,” the district said. “We appreciate your patience.”

Health officials across the country have warned that this year’s flu season has been particularly bad.

Hospital visits

Summit County Public Health recently created a website to track emergency room visits for influenza-like illnesses and fever. A link can be found at http://www.scph.org.

There have been 690 hospitalizations and nine people have died so far this season due to influenza in Summit County, according to the report. One of those fatalities was a child who died several weeks ago, said Leanne Beavers, director of clinical services for the Summit County Public Health.

Ohio has reported three flu-associated pediatric deaths for the 2017-18 flu season as of Jan. 27. Adult flu-associated deaths are not required to be reported to public health agencies. The state has also reported 8,611 influenza-associated hospitalizations for this season.

According to the latest data provided to the county, Beavers said school absenteeism and visits to the hospitals were trending down.

However, Beavers noted the county’s statistics are usually two weeks behind.

For the week of Jan. 14 through Jan. 20, school absenteeism was down, but Beavers said the cases this week could be higher.

The flu is “definitely out there,” she said. “I sure don’t want to minimize it.”

Nursing homes in the county also have been hit by the flu, with many in late December and early January putting residents who had the flu in quarantine and restricting visitors.

Beavers said officials are expecting the next wave of the flu, caused by an influenza B strain, to start in late February or March.

“As influenza A starts decreasing, we expect influenza B will start rearing its ugly head,” she said.

Beavers stressed that it is still not too late to get a flu shot. While some national reports have shown lower effectiveness for this year’s flu shot, Beavers said Summit County is seeing 30 percent coverage for influenza A and expects 60 percent for influenza B.

“Even if you had influenza A, still get your flu shot because you can get influenza B,” she said. Beavers said this year’s flu season is the harshest in the last three years. She is unsure whether it will surpass the 2014-2015 flu season, when the total number of flu-associated hospitalizations was 9,374.

Numbers are high this year and it’s earlier in the season, she said.

State recommendation

The Ohio Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months or older get a flu vaccination every year to protect themselves. The flu vaccine is especially important for those who are pregnant, elderly, young or have chronic health conditions. Flu vaccines are available at many health care providers’ offices, pharmacies and at Summit County Public Health by appointment.

It takes about two weeks to develop immunity after receiving an influenza vaccine.

To avoid getting the flu or spreading it, health officials advise people to frequently wash their hands; cover mouths and noses with tissues during coughing and sneezing; and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

If you do get sick, stay home until fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication.

Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

The family of the late Jim Chenot, a longtime and well-known local radio personality, has filed a lawsuit against Summa Health, its physician group and two of its psychiatrists, saying they caused his suicide.

Chenot, a Cuyahoga Falls resident, died Nov. 30, 2016. He was 62.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Summit County Common Pleas Court on behalf of Chenot’s son, Evan, alleges Chenot died by suicide hours after seeking care.

“Less than 24 hours after his departure from the care and treatment by Defendants, James Chenot jumped off the roof or a balcony at his apartment building and committed suicide,” the complaint says.

The suit, which has been assigned to Summit County Common Pleas Judge Jill Flagg Lanzinger, names Evan Chenot as the administrator of his father’s estate. The defendants are Summa Health, its physician group formerly known as Summa Physicians Inc. and now called Summa Health Medical Group and two of its psychiatrists, Drs. David Deckert and Heather Lewis.

The suit claims the physicians “deviated” from the standard of care and “caused his death.”

His death “caused the beneficiaries of the Estate to lose the care, companionship, consortium, society and services of James Chenot, respectively, and will continue to do so for the balance of their lives. The Estates has also incurred the reasonable funeral and burial expenses,” the lawsuit says.

Summa spokesman Mike Bernstein said: “We have not received notification regarding the matter in question. In the event a lawsuit is filed, I can confirm that we do not comment on active litigation.”

Attorneys for Chenot’s family did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Chenot spent more than 30 years behind the microphone at WONE (97.5-FM), The Summit (91.3-FM) and other stations.

Before settling in at 91.3 for 15 years, Chenot, a Canton native, got his start in radio in Muscle Shoals, Ala. He spent time at stations in Canton, Massillon and Cleveland before becoming one of the signature voices on the then-new WONE.

His fans appreciated his deep knowledge of popular music, his sense of humor and catchphrases, and how he often treated local artists on his Sunday evening show, Jim Chenot’s Radio Sandbox, as if they were already big stars.

Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

A lot has changed in the four decades since psychologist Georgette Constantinou arrived at Akron Children’s Hospital.

“The hospital was moving from a well-loved community hospital and over the next couple decades it grew into the world-class institution it is,” she recalled.

The world has changed, too, with the internet, smartphones and social media making those already difficult adolescent years even more challenging for kids and parents.

It used to be, she said, “if kids were having a bad day, the world wouldn’t know. If as a teenager I made a misstep, my friends might know, or my immediate circle might know. But everybody in the world wouldn’t know.

“We are giving this potential weapon to kids who have limited judgment … in the moment and they can’t really calculate the long-term consequences. Suddenly, they have this little machine at their disposal,” she said.

Constantinou, 69, is retiring Wednesday after nearly 40 years as a pediatric psychologist at Akron Children’s and, most recently, administrative director of the division of pediatric psychiatry and psychology.

Leaders at the hospital and in the community say she leaves behind a legacy of advocating for and developing mental health services to care for children and their families.

“For many people, she has been the single most important person in the arena of advocating for children’s mental health,” said Dave Lieberth, a longtime community advocate, lawyer and former deputy mayor.

Constantinou was active in coordinating work among county advocates and agencies and their work with neglected and abused children, Lieberth said.

“Summit County is a good place to be a child. We have this safety net … and this aura of cooperation and collaboration,” Lieberth said. “Georgette is responsible for much of the safety net that exists today for children who are neglected or abused.”

Akron Children’s Hospital Chief Executive Officer Bill Considine, who has one less year of tenure than Constantinou with 38 years, said it will be difficult to imagine the hospital without her.

“She has been a ‘true north’ voice in telling me what our patients and their families need, and always sees the world through their eyes,” Considine said. “It would be impossible to guess how many lives she has touched, and how many children and teens are now successful adults, better able to cope with the complexities of today’s world because of her.”

Constantinou was one of the first liaisons with the Parent Advisory Council, giving patients’ parents a voice to hospital administrators.

She also had a hand in developing many behavioral health programs and services, including the hospital’s partial hospital and intensive outpatient programs, behavioral health emergency services and the recent expansion of the inpatient behavioral health unit. She advocated for the creation of the NeuroDevelopmental Science Center, the consultation/liaison service and the model of having pediatric psychologists embedded in clinical programs to help children — and their families — deal with ongoing difficulties of chronic illnesses such as cancer and diabetes.

In addition, she has worked to include a mental health therapist at every Akron Children’s Hospital primary-care office to make it easy for families to get easy access to integrated care.

“I think I’m proudest of standing for patients and families and their needs no matter what. I was always being honest with the hospital about what the patients and families need,” said Constantinou said in a recent interview as she reflected on her career and the changes in children’s behavioral health since she came in July of 1978.

Parents need to step away from wanting to be their child’s friend, be aware of what their kids are doing and make tough decisions and hold their kids accountable, she said.

She said she is a big proponent of something that has been lost with many families — family time, whether that is a shared meal or other time together.

Constantinou has “a passion for children and parents and what’s needed for what healthy families need to grow — that every child in this situation not only comes with physical problems or challenges, but they also come with emotional and family issues as well, that’s part of treating the whole child,” said Dr. Stephen Crosby, director of the hospital’s division of pediatric psychiatry and psychology and Constantinou’s co-leader for 15 years.

Constantinou’s first time applying for a grant was about 10 years ago when she asked, with Crosby, the then Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation (recently renamed Peg’s Foundation) for $1.2 million to establish a special program within the emergency room for children in a mental health crisis. The Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC) allows for an evaluation 24 hours a day to help families determine the next step for their child.

Having that specialized part of the ER is invaluable to families in crisis, Peg’s Foundation President Rick Kellar said.

“If you break your arm, you go in [to the ER] and get care and come out with a pink or blue cast. If you go in and you’ve cut yourself or there’s self harm, you walk into the emergency room and there’s an emotional need and first aid that’s required for that adolescent,” Kellar said.

He had no idea when he was at the ribbon cutting for the new program funded by his organization that a few months later he would be there with his own teen daughter in a mental health crisis.

“Thank goodness that obviously those services were there,” he said.

An Akron native and Firestone High School graduate, Constantinou went to Vassar College and then to Ohio State University for her doctorate. While working in Chicago, she was asked to come back to Akron to take a one-year position at Akron Children’s.

“The truth of the matter is it was not my intention to come back here,” she said.

She met her husband of 35 years, Stavros Constantinou, a geography professor at Ohio State’s Mansfield campus, and they raised two now-grown children in Akron.

Constantinou credits Considine for giving her full support and “understanding the needs of behavioral health and really allowing us to grow and develop over all of these years.”

Constantinou said she’s not sure about her post-retirement plans. She will stay on as an on-call retiree at primary-care sites for children.

“I’m going to look for my next act. I’ve been to Ukraine and Belarus to help countries that were coming out of the fall of Communism with huge drug and alcohol problems. How do you care for traumatized children? For my second act, I have to let that evolve.”

Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

“For many people, she has been the single most important person in the arena of advocating for children’s mental health.”

Dave Lieberth

Community advocate, lawyer and former deputy mayor

I know I’m not alone.

Many of us have an area in our homes that is cluttered, messy or just a plain dumping ground for things that don’t belong somewhere else.

So let me to explain — and defend — the horribly cluttered and embarrassingly messy craft room in my basement you see in the photos with this story and accompanying video online.

The things I do for my job…

When I spoke with Lynne Poulton, a professional organizer and owner of Wholly Organized who is teaming up with me for this series, I talked about a potential project to use to jump-start this column by giving practical tips. I sheepishly offered my cluttered craft room.

It used to be neat and clean.

About four years ago, I couldn’t stand the clutter in our combination computer room (when we used to have a desktop computer on a computer desk instead of a laptop) and craft room. So I spent several days and cleaned it all out, decorated it, and made it somewhere I wanted to be.

But slowly, it became a dumping ground. A place where I’d put “extra” things or things I’d get to later. I would climb over totes to get to what I needed and then quickly leave.

Before Poulton even came over to my house for our one session, she asked me what I wanted out of the room.

I want to banish the dumping ground. I want it to be functional, though I recognize I need to update its purpose. We no longer have a desktop computer and I used to do a lot of scrapbooking in a built-in work area my husband built. I do want to finish a scrapbook for my daughter’s upcoming high school graduation.

I have re-purposed an old cabinet into a school-supply area. Both of my kids are in high school, so I no longer need all of the crayons and wide-rule paper, among other elementary-school items. I also do some selling and swapping of things like video games my son no longer uses or books online, so I utilize a printer and postal scale in the room, and use the computer desk as a mailing center. What doesn’t sell well then goes to donation.

But that was where I had the biggest “problem.”

Over the years, I have brought home different-sized manila envelopes co-workers or I get in the newsroom so I didn’t have to buy any to ship items. But I also was tossing all of the envelopes that came in the mail when I received something at home, including Amazon packages, in a tote “just in case.”

Well, my “just in case” became a problem.

I had one tote on a shelf already filled with envelopes and then parts of other totes and boxes and piles with more envelopes.

Upon seeing pictures and videos of my cluttered room, a few of my co-workers teased that I was a person with a hoarding disorder.

Although Poulton, a licensed social worker, doesn’t diagnose, she told me that from what I had shared with her about my envelope-keeping, she was pretty confident that I did not have hoarding disorder. She said she had worked with people with the disorder, and congratulated me that I was making some rules for myself and recognizing that I might be keeping too many envelopes.

“I am not here to tell you what to do,” Poulton told me as we discussed my potential rules. “You are the absolute boss. I’m not saying you have to get rid of anything.”

I told her I knew I had way more envelopes than I would ever need. She suggested collating the envelopes by size and choosing a certain number of each size that were in good shape. We would only keep enough to fit in my dedicated tote.

That was very fair. We spent time together and I spent more time on my own collating all of the envelopes in the room and around the house and recycling a lot of them. Did I say a lot of them? I counted. I recycled 198.

After I established the envelope rule, it has given me permission to take envelopes I receive now and toss them in the recycling. The first time, I still had a pang of guilt that I was recycling a perfectly good envelope, but knew it was a necessity.

Poulton also gave me several great ground rules before she left me to my task of cleaning up. Here are several of her tips:

Before going out to buy bins, baskets and boxes, consider your goal. You may very well have what you need in your house. You also need to identify what you will keep.

Gather a few supplies: trash bag, donation bag or box, “lives somewhere else” box, Sharpie markers, painter’s tape or post-its for labeling. I also had a recycling bin I filled many times and used totes to collate like items.

Start small. If you are working on a big project like your basement or kitchen, then pick one area, task or category. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Poulton likes a descending clock app called TimeTimer ($3.99 on iTunes) so it shows you on a clock face how much time you have left. You can also find free other apps for your phone or use the built-in timer or a kitchen timer. When the timer goes off, decide whether you stop or keep going. When you’re done with each session, be sure to empty the “lives somewhere else” box and put those items in the right place — or at least the right room.

Being a deadline person, I originally told Poulton I would get the room decluttered and repurposed in a week. She politely told me that was unrealistic, unless I had nothing else to do in life but clean. She was right. While I am trying to schedule some good chunks of time on a weekend, I found it very manageable to give it 20 minutes at a time during weekdays. There were also several days when I didn’t go downstairs because I didn’t have time and that was OK.

Establish your rules. Poulton said the process will start to unfold as you work. Are there items that you are no longer using or items better suited for donation? Set your limits on the number of items in a category that you will keep or a number based on the size of a drawer or shelf.

Post your goals somewhere that you will see them daily. Rewards are a good idea — what will motivate you? If you can’t think of anything, then plan to invite some friends over on a certain date and work to that date.

Poulton and I set a goal for me to finish my project within a month. I will follow-up with another column to let you know whether I succeeded. I will post photos on Twitter (@blinfisherABJ) and my Facebook page (search for Betty Lin-Fisher, Akron Beacon Journal) and you can keep me encouraged and share your own progress.

More tips to succeed: Play music, invite a friend over to help, drink water and get fresh air when getting sluggish.

A final thought: After you finish your project, be realistic that it’s not always going to be perfect, said Poulton. The same goes for the rest of your home.

“We don’t live in a magazine cover,” she said.

Beacon Journal consumer columnist and medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

Procter & Gamble says it’s working to stop the “Tide Pod challenge,” a social media-fueled trend in which teenagers eat single-load laundry detergent packets.

In Akron, no emergency room visits have been reported at Akron Children’s Hospital for the new fad, but Heather Trnka, injury prevention supervisor at the hospital and Safe Kids Summit County coordinator, said the concern is not only for teens ingesting the pods on purpose, but also toddlers and cognitively impaired adults eating them on accident.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers warned last week that it had seen a spike in teenagers eating the detergent pods, which it says can cause seizures, respiratory arrest and even death.

P&G CEO David Taylor called the trend “dangerous” and “extremely concerning” in a blog post Monday. He said the company is working with social media companies to remove videos of people biting into the detergent, and asked adults to speak with children about the hazards.

“Let them know that their life and health matter more than clicks, views and likes,” Taylor said.

In the first 15 days of the year, poison control centers said that they have handled 39 cases of intentional misuse among 13 to 19-year-olds. Poison control centers handled 53 such cases for all of last year.

Trnka said there have been 10 deaths in the United States. None have been teens: four were kids under age 5, and six were cognitively impaired adults with dementia, she said.

Part of the national campaign includes encouraging parents and caregivers to put the Tide Pods or any similar capsule detergent or dishwashing pellets in high places where toddlers or adults with dementia cannot get it, Trnka said.

And for the teens, Trnka said, the message is to stop.

“It’s actually quite disgusting. Its a polyvinyl plastic that melts in the water, so they see if they can hold it in their mouth until it starts to foam,” she said. “The crazy thing about laundry pods is its super-high concentrated chemicals. Chemicals I can’t even pronounce. That high concentration in chemicals has a reaction that happens really quick. It can be from side-effects such as diarrhea to vomiting to seizures, loss of consciousness, drowsiness and death.”

If someone has ingested part of a Tide Pod, the recommendation is to drink a glass of water or milk and not induce vomiting, Trnka said (it could burn the esophagus on the way back up) and call the national Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 or 911, if needed. Typing POISON to 797979 can also reach poison control.

The pods have generally been a hit for Procter & Gamble Co., which also makes Crest toothpaste and Charmin toilet paper. The company posted quarterly revenue Tuesday of $17.4 billion and fiscal second-quarter net income of $2.5 billion. Its results topped Wall Street expectations.

P&G has faced safety issues with Tide Pods before. Shortly after it introduced the product in 2012, the company announced that it would create a double-latch lid to deter young children from accessing and eating the detergent packets. Some children mistook the brightly colored 1-inch pods for candy.

To deter teenagers, P&G released a 20-second video of football player Rob Gronkowski earlier this month telling viewers not to ingest the pods.

“What the heck is going on people?” he said in the video. “Use Tide Pods for washing, not eating.”

A New York City pizzeria even launched “Pied Pods” because of the trend, offering rolls stuffed with cheese and pepperoni and topped with dyed cheese made to look like a detergent pod.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty.

The Hudson-based Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation has changed its name, but not its focus.

Effective this month, the foundation, which aims to “improve the lives of people with serious mental illness by investing in innovative projects in Northeast Ohio having national transformational impact” will be named Peg’s Foundation.

Rick Kellar, president of the foundation, said the board and staff spent over a year reviewing the name and brand, wanting to ensure the message accurately represented the founder’s personality. Peg Morgan, who died in 2013, never used her formal name — for anyone who knew her, she was Peg, he said.

“Our message through this rebranding is for others to understand Peg, our founder, the way we knew her. She was a fashion designer; she loved sports, arts and dessert. She was a college graduate and valued education but most of all she loved her family and wanted appropriate care for her son suffering from schizophrenia. The foundation represents a mom first, who even having great financial means, still struggled to find help for her son Dave,” Kellar said.

An avid Cleveland Indians fan, Morgan was married to the late Hudson businessman Burton D. Morgan.

Mental health is the primary focus of Peg’s Foundation, with many grants guided by the personal experiences of the Morgan family, Kellar said. Adopting a new tag line, “Think Bigger,” Kellar describes how Peg was a petite woman who attended board meetings, more often listening than speaking, but always taking notes.

The foundation’s new website is http://www.Pegsfoundation.org.

Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty.

The husband of a woman missing since the couple left for a trip to Graceland earlier this month has now told Hartville police that he put her body in the Tennessee River after she died of natural causes.

Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea said Monday that the body of Roberta Snider, known as “Bobby,” has still not been found, though Tennessee authorities are looking for her.

And Benton County, Tenn., Sheriff Kenny Christopher said on Monday night that it is his understanding that the woman may have died on the way down to Graceland and then the husband disposed of her body on the way home, after he checked into a Graceland hotel by himself.

Philip Snider, 72, and Roberta, 70, drove to Graceland, the Tennessee home of Elvis Presley, on Jan. 4. But only Philip Snider came home.

He originally told police that he waved down an ambulance in a Memphis hotel parking lot instead of calling 911 after his wife died in their truck. He said she has serious medical problems.

According to authorities, Snider initially told police a medical technician whisked his wife’s body away, but he didn’t know where she was taken, so he came home.

Roberta Snider’s brother called police after hearing what happened, hoping to bring his sister’s body home.

Dordea said that Philip Snider told Hartville police the information about putting his wife in the river during a subsequent interview. In a news release, Dordea said Snider’s story began to change after authorities verified Roberta Snider never checked in to any hotels on the trip.

In a phone interview Monday, the police chief said he was reluctant to share the information publicly while the investigation continues and Roberta Snider’s body still is missing. However, Dordea said he believes the information was probably inadvertently released by Tennessee authorities after a flurry of activity searching for a body in the Tennessee River.

Philip Snider told Hartville authorities his wife “passed and he wanted to put her back with nature,” Dordea said Monday. “She wanted to be cremated. She did not want to be on somebody’s mantel, so he threw her off the route 40 bridge off the Tennessee River.”

Christopher, the Tennessee sheriff, said he was told by Ohio authorities that Snider “thought it was more humane” to put her in the river and that “he couldn’t stand the thought of her being burned.”

Authorities in Hartville and Benton County are working together on the case, Dordea said.

“The Hartville Police Department is investigating a missing person case,” Dordea said. “Somehow, somewhere this missing person stopped breathing, then presumably after she stopped breathing, she was thrown into the Tennessee River. That portion, if true, is the jurisdiction of the Benton county sheriff … If she stopped breathing in her living room, that jurisdiction would be mine.”

Dordea said there are laws in Ohio against putting a body in a public waterway, and he assumes similar laws exist in Tennessee.

“Our primary goal is finding Roberta,” he said.

Christopher said Snider could be charged with desecration of a corpse, which is a misdemeanor, and other charges could be pending, after an autopsy. But Roberta’s body needs to be found first, he said.

“More than anything we want a recovery operation to put some closure for the family,” he said.

Christopher said his department has verified through video surveillance that only Snider checked into the hotel near Graceland. Christopher said Snider said the next morning he decided to wrap his wife in garbage bags.

Christopher said Snider told authorities his wife was sick with cancer and died from her illness in Kentucky, on the way to Memphis, and he continued on to Graceland.

Snider has been interviewed by the FBI and taken a polygraph, Dordea said. “We are still analyzing the results and working with Philip [Snider] to learn more about the circumstances regarding Roberta’s condition and location.”

Authorities are asking for anyone with information to contact the Hartville police at 330-877-2630.

Messages were left with Roberta Snider’s brother.

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty

A Stark County judge has given Affinity Medical Center in Massillon at least a temporary lifeline.

Stark County Common Pleas Judge Chryssa Hartnett issued a temporary restraining order Friday requiring the Stark County hospital to stay open for 120 days.

A preliminary injunction hearing will be held on Feb. 1 for the judge to decide whether to continue the temporary order, which continues for 14 days or until a new order is issued.

The order was in response to a lawsuit filed by the city of Massillon, a group of Affinity doctors and others against Affinity’s owner to keep the hospital open.

Friday’s order also says Affinity’s management must cooperate with efforts by the city to create a plan for a new entity to buy the hospital or coordinate appropriate closure to transition patient care.

“This decision by Judge Hartnett recognizes and avoids the public health crisis that the sudden closing would have otherwise caused,” said Collin Wise, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. “This decision by Judge Hartnett allows time for community leaders to continue evaluating whether possible alternative partners and options exist that present viable ways to keep the hospital open long term.”

Affinity’s corporate owner stunned the Stark County community earlier this month when it announced the hospital would cease taking new patients this Sunday , end clinical operations in February and be shuttered for good in March.

Tennessee-based Quorum said it failed to find a buyer for the hospital, which it said has lost money in each of the last six years.

However, officials from at least two area hospital systems — Aultman Health Foundation and the Cleveland Clinic — said they were unaware of Quorum’s plans to sell or close Affinity until this month’s announcement.

Government leaders, state lawmakers, local physicians, a nurses’ union representing RNs at the hospital and others in the community have been fighting plans to close the 156-bed acute-care facility, which has about 800 employees.

Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry, a registered nurse who worked at Affinity for 20 years, said the judge’s order was good news to stretch out Quorum’s “reckless” timeline.

“I know the importance of having a hospital in the community. Had this company come to us, we would have tried to help them. No one knew they were in trouble,” she said. “To abruptly announce you’re going to close the hospital, it’s reckless, it’s heartless. We are so very pleased with the injunction today.”

Catazaro-Perry said the community and doctors need time to plan instead of an abrupt closure. If there is new ownership, for example, it could take 60 to 90 days to get new credentials

There also is a medical residency program for training doctors and those students have been thrust into uncertainty, she said.

Dr. Mona Shay, chief of staff at Affinity, said she and other doctors, along with city officials, need time to figure out how to best take care of their patients.

“Is the hospital still marketable for a potential buyer to salvage and, if not, give us more time to establish what we’re going to do with the patients. Thirty days is not a reasonable time to figure out what to do with our patients,” said Shay, a gastro­enterologist who has been a physician in the area for 20 years.

Michelle Mahon, a registered nurse and national representative for the 250 Affinity nurses through the National Nurses United union, said news of the temporary restraining order was a pleasant surprise for all parties fighting to keep the hospital open. The union is not a party to the city’s lawsuit, but its lawyers assisted in some supportive work.

“This is obviously a very important first step” toward keeping the hospital open indefinitely, Mahon said.

“Unfortunately, Quorum left everybody with a timeline that turned this community on its head,” she said.

“There is some work to do even though the 120 days is there,” said Mahon, adding that she was proud of the nurses for rolling up their sleeves and fighting the closure.

“It’s just incredible to see people decide to take a stand. I know it’s not over yet, but the power of people is really unstoppable when they have the hope and faith they can achieve something,” she said.

Representatives of the union met with officials of Quorum on Thursday to discuss their demands. Mahon did not go into detail about what was discussed, but said “we are still in discussions with Quorum. The nurses were there with a demand, which is to keep this hospital open and be responsible for their obligations to this community.”

Wise said the hospital is needed, especially during a national flu epidemic that has hit Stark County.

“This decision by Judge Hartnett enables Affinity to continue to serve the needs of the community in facing those challenges,” he said.

A message for Quorum representatives was not returned. However, Affinity Chief Executive Officer John Walsh released this prepared statement to the Beacon Journal on Friday afternoon:

“The hospital was notified of Judge Chryssa Hartnett’s ruling earlier this morning. We have temporarily suspended wind down efforts for the 14-day period it requires and will continue operating all services for which we have appropriate staffing available.

“Our efforts to negotiate with the Mayor’s Office and other interested parties the last few days have not been productive and we share the court’s interest in identifying an equitable solution.

“Most importantly, we’d like to recognize and applaud our dedicated staff for their professionalism and constant focus on our patients during this uncertain time. They are the embodiment of the term ‘caregiver’ and we are grateful for the contributions of each nurse, physician, administrative and support employee and volunteer.”

When told of the statement, Catazaro-Perry said she was not surprised by Walsh’s reaction.

“We’re protecting our community,” she said. “It is very important for our residents.

“We are the second largest city in Stark County and we need a hospital in western Stark County.”

Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty