The Wright Center for Community Health Names new Director of Geriatric Services Program

Scranton, Pa. (Feb. 23, 2021) – Nicole Lipinski, a registered nurse with 25 years of experience working with elderly patients and caregivers, has been named the new Director of The Wright Center for Community Health’s geriatric services program.

Since its debut in July, the program has been recognized by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement as an Age-Friendly Health System Partner for providing a full spectrum of comprehensive, safety-net primary health and support services for seniors. Through individualized care plans developed by a team of providers, The Wright Center serves as a trusted primary health advisor for seniors and their families to support independent living

A key component of the geriatric program is the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Clinic, which provides comprehensive evaluation and testing and is accessible no matter who the patient’s primary care doctor is. The Wright Center is one of only eight health systems across the country selected as an adopter of the innovative Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program created at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

“Our geriatric program was created to meet the need for specialized services that address the physical, mental and behavioral health challenges specific to seniors, especially as we experience an unprecedented growth rate in Pennsylvania’s aging population,” Lipinski said. “Countless families in Northeast Pennsylvania have benefited from this expert care already, which became even more critical as we navigated the challenges the pandemic presented for at-risk older adults, including isolation.”

Lipinski joined The Wright Center in July as the geriatric care manager, bringing decades of experience caring for patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases to the role. She earned her nursing degree from Luzerne County Community College, and her bachelor’s degree in business and master’s degree in healthcare informatics from Misericordia University. She resides in Throop.

For information about The Wright Center’s geriatric services or to make an appointment, call 570-230-0019.

The Wright Center for Community Health names two new practice managers

Scranton, Pa. (Feb. 16, 2021) – The Wright Center for Community Health recently promoted two longtime clinical employees to the leadership roles of Practice Managers.

Kimeth Robinson will lead The Wright Center’s Kingston Practice at 2 Sharpe Street. A graduate of McCann School of Business, Robinson joined The Wright Center in 2016 as a medical assistant. She most recently served as medical scribe for Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, President/CEO of The Wright Center, and as Co-Manager of Medical Assistants, responsible for monitoring patient care quality and coordination as well as daily oversight of all medical assistants on staff. Robinson resides in Peckville.

Mary Georgetti will lead The Wright Center’s Wilkes-Barre Practice located inside the Children’s Service Center building at 335 South Franklin Street. A Wyoming Valley West High School graduate, Georgetti joined The Wright Center in 2011 as an administrative assistant. She most recently served as a practice coordinator for The Wright Center’s Luzerne County offices, maintaining physician schedules, electronic health records and community outreach. Georgetti resides in Plains Twp.

As Practice Managers, both Robinson and Georgetti will be responsible for the daily operations of their respective locations, including oversight of patient flow, staff and services. The Wilkes-Barre and Kingston practices are home to physicians and clinical staff who provide primary and preventive care for pediatric, adult and geriatric patients, including routine check-ups, sick visits, behavioral/mental health, and addiction and recovery services.

“Kimeth and Mary have proven themselves as reliable leaders who each represent the very best of The Wright Center’s core values, as they are exceptional team players who strive for excellence in service to our communities every day,” said Kathleen Barry, Deputy Chief Operating Officer of The Wright Center.

The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education’s National Family Medicine Residency Program earns highest accreditation

Scranton, Pa. (Feb. 16, 2021) – The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has granted The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education’s pioneering National Family Medicine Residency Program a full 10-year accreditation, the highest rating available.

The ACGME is a private, not-for-profit organization that sets quality standards for U.S. graduate medical education programs and renders accreditation decisions based on compliance with these standards of best practices.

Established in 2013, The Wright Center’s unique National Family Medicine Residency program was created to address America’s severe primary care workforce shortage and escalating rural healthcare disparities. Eighty-five family medicine doctors have graduated to date, with 50 more physician learners enrolled in the program that now spans four states and two coasts, with training locations in Tucson, Arizona (El Rio Community Health Center); New Richmond, Ohio (HealthSource of Ohio); Auburn, Washington (HealthPoint); and Washington, D.C. (Unity Health Care).

As the largest Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Consortium in the country, The Wright Center trains residents to provide care to the nation’s most vulnerable patients in high-performing, certified Patient-Centered Medical Homes, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and community-based hospitals. From humble beginnings in 1976 as the Scranton Temple Residency Program with just six internal medicine residents, it has blossomed into a physician-led, nonprofit organization with over 650 employees and close to 250 physician learners.

In earning full accreditation from the ACGME, The Wright Center has demonstrated compliance with ACGME’s rigorous standards and institutional requirements following initial accreditation in 2018 and a successful site visit this past September.

“For more than 45 years, The Wright Center has been committed to providing non-discriminatory, high-quality primary health care to the region’s underserved populations while creating the workforce pipeline America needs,” said Jumee Barooah, M.D., Designated Institutional Official for The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education. “There really is no other residency in the country that unites physicians across America like our national family medicine program, and I’m thrilled to see our efforts recognized by the ACGME.”

Wright Center for Community Health offering powerful Infusion Therapy to help COVID-Positive patients

Scranton, Pa. (Feb. 10, 2021) – Patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 have a new treatment option available that may help them avoid a stay in the hospital. The Wright Center for Community Health is the first in Scranton to offer an outpatient infusion clinic for administering Bamlanivimab, or BAM, a monoclonal antibody.

“These monoclonal antibodies are the unsung heroes when it comes to the fight against COVID-19,” said Jignesh Sheth, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for The Wright Center, who is leading the delivery and administration of the drug. “There’s strong evidence that it stops people from going to the hospital and that patients recover faster with fewer complications.”

BAM was first introduced at the Wright Center’s Scranton location two weeks ago with close to 40 COVID-positive patients treated thus far. None of those patients treated ended up in the hospital with one 61-year-old COVID-19 patient, described as “very ill,” coming in for treatment on a Friday and by that Sunday, was able to walk four miles.

The Wright Center is offering the treatment to people 65 and older within 10 days of a positive COVID-19 PCR test or onset of symptoms, and to younger patients, 12 and over, at higher risk. People hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 are not eligible to receive the treatment.

The monoclonal antibodies found in BAM, which was granted emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, are laboratory-created proteins that replicate the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful antigens, like COVID-19. The medicine targets the virus in a confirmed-positive patient and aims to prevent their body from having a damaging, or even life-threatening, inflammatory reaction.

Who is Eligible for the COVID-19 Infusion Clinic?

  • Must be 12 years of age and older
  • Must have tested COVID-19 positive via PCR nasal swab
  • Must be outpatient only; not available for hospitalized individuals
  • Must not require oxygen as a result of COVID-19 symptoms
  • Must be considered a patient with underlying medical conditions considered high-risk for developing complications, which includes those 65 and older

BAM is administered as a one-time infusion over one hour. Patients are asked to remain at The Wright Center’s infusion clinic for roughly one hour after treatment to monitor for any side effects. BAM is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized due to COVID-19, who require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19, or who require an increase in baseline oxygen flow rate due to COVID-19 in patients who are on chronic oxygen therapy due to underlying non-COVID-19-related conditions.

For more information about COVID-19 Infusion Therapy or to schedule an appointment, visit TheWrightCenter.org or call 570-941-0630.

Wright Center President/CEO Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak named recipient of Prestigious Women in Medicine Award

Scranton, Pa. (Nov. 30, 2020) – Linda Thomas-Hemak, M.D., has been named recipient of the Dr. Ann Preston Women in Medicine Award by the Pennsylvania Eastern Region Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP). Recognized globally as the world’s largest medical-specialty society, the ACP bestowed the honor upon Dr. Thomas-Hemak as part of its efforts to “recognize excellence and distinguished contributions to internal medicine.”

Dr. Thomas-Hemak is the Chief Executive Officer of The Wright Center for Community Health and President of its affiliated entity, The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education. Born and raised in Northeast Pennsylvania and the daughter of Archbald’s William and Johanna Thomas, both retired public school teachers, Dr. Thomas-Hemak is a graduate of Scranton Preparatory School and The University of Scranton. After graduating as a Michael DeBakey Scholar from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and completing Harvard’s Combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency in Boston, Massachusetts, she returned to NEPA to practice primary care.

She joined The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education and The Wright Center for Community Health, formerly The Wright Center Medical Group, in 2000, became President of the Medical Group in 2007, and the chief executive for both organizations in 2012. She is a board-certified, practicing, academic internal medicine/pediatrics/addiction medicine primary care provider at The Wright Center for Community Health’s Mid Valley Practice in Jermyn, the same borough where she currently resides with her husband and three children.

Started in 2019, the Women in Medicine Award recognizes an ACP chapter member whose outstanding efforts and achievements have promoted career success, leadership and overall quality of life for women in medicine, fostering tomorrow’s women leaders in medicine. The award is named after medical pioneer Dr. Ann Preston, a lifelong Philadelphia resident who was in the first class of women who enrolled in the Female (later Women’s) Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1850. After the Board of Censors of the Philadelphia Medical Society effectively banned women physicians from the public teaching clinics of the city, she raised funds to start a new hospital where teaching could occur, and opened The Women’s Hospital in 1858. She later created a school of nursing and was named the first woman dean of the Women’s Medical College in 1866.

“Your work as President and CEO of the Wright Center as well as the Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency program more than qualify you for this award. I am also personally aware of your tireless efforts to promote advocacy and let the voices of the underserved be heard, and appreciate your dedication to this cause,” noted Lawrence H. Jones, M.D., FACP, Governor of the ACP’s Pennsylvania Eastern Region Chapter, in his acknowledgment of Dr. Thomas-Hemak.

Wright Center’s Sister Ruth Neely, CRNP, honored by National Health Organization for decades of work with HIV/AIDS patients in NEPA

Scranton, Pa. (Nov. 30, 2020) – Sister Ruth Neely, a certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP) at The Wright Center for Community Health’s Ryan White HIV Clinic, recently received recognition from a national health care advocacy organization as part of its “Year of the Nurse” campaign.

“Your expert medical care mixed with profound compassion have been critical to the lives of people living with HIV,” wrote Dr. Ron Yee, Chief Medical Officer of The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) in his announcement letter to Sister Ruth, adding “We… were really impressed by your hard word, dedication and perseverance throughout your career.”

Sister Ruth, a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, has devoted her life to serving the vulnerable and underserved in the region. A graduate of Misericordia University, she started offering HIV outreach services back in 1997, years before The Wright Center’s Ryan White Clinic was formally established. The Wright Center received its federal Ryan White designation in 2000, and since then, has provided comprehensive HIV primary medical care, essential support services and medications for those living with HIV, including the uninsured and underserved, throughout Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wyoming, Wayne, Pike, Monroe and Susquehanna counties.

Sister Ruth Neely, CRNP

Scranton, Pa. (Nov. 30, 2020) – Sister Ruth Neely, a certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP) at The Wright Center for Community Health’s Ryan White HIV Clinic, recently received recognition from a national health care advocacy organization as part of its “Year of the Nurse” campaign.

“Your expert medical care mixed with profound compassion have been critical to the lives of people living with HIV,” wrote Dr. Ron Yee, Chief Medical Officer of The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) in his announcement letter to Sister Ruth, adding “We… were really impressed by your hard word, dedication and perseverance throughout your career.”

Sister Ruth, a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, has devoted her life to serving the vulnerable and underserved in the region. A graduate of Misericordia University, she started offering HIV outreach services back in 1997, years before The Wright Center’s Ryan White Clinic was formally established. The Wright Center received its federal Ryan White designation in 2000, and since then, has provided comprehensive HIV primary medical care, essential support services and medications for those living with HIV, including the uninsured and underserved, throughout Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wyoming, Wayne, Pike, Monroe and Susquehanna counties.