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Archbald couple appreciates Wright Center services


Andy and Agnes Touch in their kitchen while Andy pours a pot of coffee

Andy and Agnes Touch are aging with grace and good humor in their Archbald home, thanks in part to the regular care that Agnes receives at The Wright Center for Community Health. The duo ‘thinks the world’ of her physician, Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, who has been providing care to Agnes for about
15 years.

Despite close calls, the Touch family avoids serious illness amid pandemic and praises the caring, close-to-home provider

Listen to Agnes and Andy Touch talk about The Wright Center for Community Health, and you might mistake the longtime married couple for paid spokespeople.

Agnes Touch praises the staff for its compassionate care. Andy Touch calls The Wright Center a “great community asset.” 

But this duo, each in their 80s, doesn’t get a penny for promoting The Wright Center’s primary care services. In fact, Andy isn’t even a regular patient.

The Northeast Pennsylvania natives simply value the help they have received from The Wright Center – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when they and one of their daughters received treatment for the virus – and they want others across the region to know all that the organization offers to help individuals and families be healthy.

Andy and Agnes standing in their living room.

Agnes and Andy Touch, who are in their 80s, want more people to know about The Wright Center for Community Health’s varied services that have helped them so well, especially during the pandemic.

“More people should be aware that The Wright Center is not just a place where you go to see a doctor for a checkup,” says Andy, a retired insurance agent. “They have psychiatrists for mental health. They have dentists. They’ll do bloodwork for you.

“They’re trying to make it a one-stop health and wellness center,” Andy Touch says.

As longtime residents of Archbald, Pennsylvania, the Touches have witnessed The Wright Center grow from humble beginnings as a small graduate medical education program and a single clinic in Jermyn into a dynamic teaching organization with clinics across Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wayne counties. Agnes became a patient about 15 years ago shortly after she battled breast cancer.

Due to their health histories and ages, the Touches were eager in January 2021 to get vaccinated against COVID-19. From the earliest days of the pandemic, they had embraced basic precautions such as mask wearing. “I was even spraying our mail with antiseptic before it came in the house,” says Andy, laughing. “I mean, we were like germaphobes.”

Agnes made an appointment to receive her first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the Mid Valley Practice in Jermyn.

Andy accompanied her and asked if he, too, could get the in-demand, but not yet widely available vaccine. Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, who is The Wright Center’s president and CEO as well as a practicing physician, recommended he first get an exam that included a check of his vital signs. Andy consented – which turned out to be a potentially disaster-averting decision.

“She said my blood pressure was close to stroke range,” Andy Touch recalls.

Andy’s hypertension had previously been diagnosed by his personal physician; he suspects that worry – brought on when he or his wife undergoes a medical procedure – contributed to his notably high reading that day. Dr. Thomas-Hemak, acting in coordination with Andy’s regular physician, recommended a different drug and quickly facilitated the switch.

The Touches returned to the Mid Valley Practice as they became eligible for further vaccine doses and boosters, building their immune systems. That protection apparently paid off earlier this year when COVID-19 hit home. 

Andy and Agnes outside walking alongside a fence.

After feeling ‘sick as a puppy’ and testing positive for coronavirus earlier this year, Andy Touch received the COVID-19 antibody infusion therapy at The Wright Center for Community Health Mid Valley Practice in Jermyn. He and his wife, Agnes, who also was administered the treatment, avoided becoming seriously ill and are able to enjoy their usual activities.

Despite precautions, Andy tested positive. In quick succession, he, Agnes and their daughter Gina Touch Mercer, who was visiting from her Arizona home in late April, all turned to The Wright Center to receive treatment. Nurses administered the COVID-19 monoclonal antibody infusion therapy to the family members, and each avoided becoming seriously ill. 

It’s little wonder that the Touches say they “think the world” of Dr. Thomas-Hemak and the care teams at The Wright Center. “The workers are so nice and helpful to everybody,” says Agnes. “They’re like friends.”

A great headshot of Agnes and Andy

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at The Wright Center for Community Health gave Agnes and Andy Touch peace of mind.

Daughter Gina, who works as a geriatric care manager some 2,350 miles away, is relieved her mom and dad have high-quality, close-to-home care they all can count on. “I know that my parents are safe and healthy with the coordination of care and specialty services that Dr. Thomas-Hemak and The Wright Center provide.”

And as if on script, Andy sums up the situation by saying

“If you’re having a problem, they’re ready to try to help you solve it.”

For information about The Wright Center for Community Health’s many primary care services, call 570-230-0019 or visit thewrightcenter.org/services.

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