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A double blessing: A new baby and paid parental leave benefit Penn State Health dad

After supporting his wife through a high-risk pregnancy and complicated birth, Peter Kostishak, a nurse practitioner at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, was juggling care for weeks after the birth for newborn Julia, their 3-year-old son and his wife.

Knowing he didn’t have to worry about work and his leave was paid was a sweet relief.

“Abbie was weak, and it took her a good four to five weeks before she was able to care for Julia,” the Hummelstown resident said. “To have time off without being concerned about missing work was such a blessing.”

Abbie Kostishak, who also works at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center as a nursing orientation and professional development specialist, was in her second trimester when she developed supraventricular tachycardia, an irregularly fast heartbeat that affects the heart’s upper chambers.

At one point, her heart stopped and had to be restarted with an IV medicine called adenosine, her husband said. The condition was controlled with medicine for the rest of her pregnancy. During her cesarean section, she also lost a lot of blood and needed a blood transfusion, he said.

One less thing to worry about

“When she and Julia got home, I was taking care of everybody because Abbie was pretty much bedridden. I’d bring Julia to her to nurse, but otherwise, I was pretty much on duty,” Peter Kostishak said.

The purpose of paid parental leave is to enable eligible employees to care for and bond with a newborn or newly adopted child or children, but for Peter, it was also a big stress reliever.

“We have a mortgage and bills to pay. It was nice not to have to worry about that or any work issues,” he said. “I could just focus on being with my family.”

His managers, Stacey Vacchiano and Connie Berk, worked with him to coordinate his paid leave with accrued paid time off so that he was able to have a total of six weeks off, he said.

“It was a true blessing to have Peter home after the birth of our baby,” Abbie Kostkshak said. “Being hospitalized for several days after the birth, and not being able to be up and about for several weeks, made his presence at home a true gift for a mother recovering from a traumatic pregnancy/birth and adjusting to life as a family of four!”

Abbie also credits Fallon Hughes, director of Nursing Education and Professional Development, and their team for their support and accommodation of her during her high-risk pregnancy.

Benefit available to all

The parental leave benefit, which is available to Penn State Health full- and part-time employees at all locations from the time they start employment, provides for up to 80 hours of paid leave that must be used continuously. Each week of paid parental leave is compensated at 100% of the employee’s regular weekly pay, excluding overtime.

“The paternity leave is a really beneficial opportunity for the employee and their family, and the leadership team works hard to make it work for you,” he said. “This is a nice place to work, and Hershey is a great place to raise a family.”

Kostishak said he appreciates the work-life balance that Penn State Health promotes and supports. He is happy for the opportunity to work three, 12-hour shifts, which gives him more time to be at home and see his children’s first steps, hear their first words – things you don’t get a second chance to witness, he said.

Peter and Abbie Kostishak spend time with their daughter, 1-year-old Julia in their Hummelstown home on Friday, Feb. 24, 2023

Peter and Abbie Kostishak spend time with their daughter, 1-year-old Julia in their Hummelstown home on Friday, Feb. 24, 2023

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