Healthy MOMS (Maternal Opiate Medical Support) Celebrates 100th Baby Born into Program

When nine-week-old Hailey Rose fusses for a bottle, her dutiful mother, Heather, fastens a bib around her in preparation for a feeding. Embroidered into the soft cloth are the words, “Wild Like Mommy.”

It’s perhaps the only hint Heather will ever share with her daughter of the troubled past she left behind when she entered recovery less than three years ago. “Hailey has never seen me high, and she never will,” Heather promises.

The bubbly baby girl remains a miracle to her mother, and holds the proud Wright Center distinction of being the 100th baby born into the Healthy MOMS (Maternal Opiate Medical Support) Program since its inception in 2018. 

While Hailey serves as daily inspiration to stay clean, Heather also credited much of her success in recovery to the care team that never wavered in their support of her journey to sobriety. In particular, Heather points to the advice and guidance provided by Healthy MOMS Case Manager Marcella Garvin and Certified Recovery Specialist Mary Butera as being her source of strength.

“I’ve struggled since I was 16 with drugs and alcohol. I’ve been in and out of jail, and spent most of my twenties behind bars,” Heather said. “I could never get even a month sober. I got offered this drug treatment program and started Suboxone. When I found out I was pregnant three months later, it changed everything for me.

“I used to have thoughts about getting high, thinking I was missing out. But ever since I got pregnant, that lifestyle is so far from my mind. Hailey’s just the most important thing. It’s all about her. My whole thought process changed.”

After years of substance misuse, Heather didn’t think she could ever have children because of all the damage she had done to her body. But whenever she had fears or anxieties about becoming a parent, the Healthy MOMS team was there to answer her questions and reassure her. 

“They always know what to say to make me feel better,” she said. 

It hasn’t been an easy road, Heather admitted, but Hailey makes the work worth it, and she feels supported on her path with the Healthy MOMS Program on her side. Among the biggest lessons she’s learned is the importance of communication and reaching out to talk to people who understand.

“You’re going to have bad days, and it’s going to be hard, but you have to hang on. It does get easier with time. But you have to have a good support system,” Heather said. “Letting people know what you’re thinking is so hard when you don’t trust anybody. But I felt safe with Marcella and Mary.

“I’m proud of all the stuff I overcame. I feel more comfortable with myself. A couple years has made such a difference,” she added. “I have a beautiful home and a beautiful daughter, and I’ve been working consistently for a year, which I’ve never done. I know how quick all that can go away and I can lose all this that took me so long to get, and I’m not willing to do that. I like where I’m at and who I am today.”

The Wright Center for Community Health Awarded $270,000 Through Appalachian Regional Commission’s Inspire Initiative

PROGRESS Project will support recovery-to-work / recovery ecosystem efforts in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties

Scranton, Pa. (April 1, 2021) – The Wright Center for Community Health was awarded $270,000 by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to implement a regional recovery-to-work ecosystem for patients coping with Substance Use Disorders.

Working collaboratively with community partners, including AllOne Recovery Educational Institute of Luzerne County Community College, The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development, the Northeast PA Area Health Education Center and Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance, The Wright Center will co-create employment training opportunities for people in recovery.

This is one of 30 projects receiving more than $9.4 million from INvestments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE), an ARC initiative addressing Appalachia’s substance abuse crisis by creating or expanding a recovery ecosystem leading to workforce entry or re-entry. ARC has also released a Request for Proposals for a second round of INSPIRE funding, which will award up to $10 million to more recovery-to-work projects.

“I congratulate The Wright Center for their INSPIRE award and commend them for their role in addressing the economic impacts of Appalachia’s substance abuse crisis,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “ARC INSPIRE partners will help individuals in recovery obtain sustainable employment, further encouraging economic resiliency in the communities that will be served. As ARC looks to the second round of this funding initiative, I encourage all interested applicants in the Region to send us your ideas.”

“We’re grateful to receive this grant to further expand recovery services for the people of Northeast Pennsylvania. A critical, and often overlooked, aspect of successful recovery includes career training that supports reintegration into the workforce so individuals overcoming Substance Use Disorders can find family-sustaining jobs,” said Maria Kolcharno, Director of Addiction Services for The Wright Center.

The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education Appoints Four New Members to Its Board Of Directors

Scranton, Pa. (March 23, 2021) – The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education recently welcomed four new community members with diverse backgrounds in education, public service and business to its Board of Directors. 

As the largest Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Consortium in the country, The Wright Center offers comprehensive, community-focused residency programs in Northeast Pennsylvania and across the United States. In NEPA alone, close to 250 physician learners gain hands-on experience serving a diverse population in physician-lead, fully accredited Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Psychiatry residencies, as well as Cardiovascular Disease, Gastroenterology and Geriatrics fellowships.

Board members provide oversight of academic excellence and programming efforts to support The Wright Center’s mission of training caring primary care physicians who connect with and plant roots in the communities they serve.

Teri Ooms is the Executive Director of The Institute, an applied social science research and economic  consulting organizations formed through a collaborative of higher education and business. Based in NEPA, The Institute produces community-based research and client solutions that provide strategies for growing organizational impact and sustainability. Ooms earned her master’s degree in finance and her bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of Scranton.

Attorney Gertrude C. McGowan is the Chief Executive Officer of Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania, a nonprofit agency that provides professional counseling, guardianship and operational services and programs to vulnerable populations in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe and Wyoming counties. McGowan is a graduate of Villanova University School of Law and earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration and English from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre.

Debra Youngfelt is the Executive Director of the East Central and Northeast Pennsylvania Area Health Education Centers, a nonprofit agency that aims to enhance access to healthcare and improve the distribution of healthcare professionals through academic and community partnerships, and offering programs that are designed to recruit, train and retain a diverse healthcare workforce. Youngfelt earned her bachelor’s degree in health and safety education from Indiana University School of Health, Bloomington, Indiana.

Ronald Bukowski is a retired math and engineering educator, having taught high school and college for 40 years. He currently serves on the school boards for Mid Valley School District and Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County. Bukowski earned bachelor’s degrees in engineering/physics from The Pennsylvania State University and education/mathematics and psychology from the College of William and Mary, and Old Dominion University.

Experts from Across the State Join Local Conversation About Health Records Sharing for Televised Special Premiering March 19

Scranton, Pa. (March 16, 2021) – “Sharing Data, Saving Lives: The Healthcare Interoperability Agenda” will premiere Friday, March 19, at 7 p.m. on WVIA-TV. Additional air dates include Sunday, March 21, 2 p.m.; Thursday, March 25, 9 p.m.; and Sunday, March 28, 3 p.m. This is the second episode in a four-part special series that delves into the importance of partnerships and pathways needed for physicians, hospitals — and even patients themselves — to be able to access electronic health records containing crucial medical histories anywhere and any time.

Healthcare interoperability means patient health information can be safely exchanged between labs, hospitals, pharmacies, primary care offices, etc., in order to advance the effective delivery of care. Interoperability makes it easier for medical providers to share patient information with one another and in real time. For example, a patient who is on vacation and falls ill may not be able to provide all details of his medical history, which can make all the difference to the emergency room doctor charged with his care.

Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, CEO of The Wright Center for Community Health and President of The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education, moderates a remote panel discussion that also includes:

  • Martin Ciccocioppo, Director of the Pennsylvania eHealth Partnership Program in the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
  • Marty Lupinetti, President and CEO of HealthShare Exchange, a health data hub with more than 10 million patients throughout the Greater Philadelphia and Delaware Valley regions, including southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey
  • Kim Chaundry,  Operations Director for the Keystone Health Information Exchange, which serves more than 5.8 million patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“The ability to safely exchange and access your health information between your doctor, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers in real time is extremely important, especially during a pandemic,” explained Dr. Thomas-Hemak. “It allows your primary care doctor to know, for example, that you tested positive for COVID-19, enabling your physician’s office to proactively reach out and provide appropriate care. 

“Interoperability also offers you easy access to your own health information, which is critical now that we have COVID vaccinations available,” Dr. Thomas-Hemak added. “It has the power to track vaccine administration, the type of vaccine administered, side effects, and to generate second-dose scheduling efforts. Without interoperability, patient care and safety are at risk, costs are higher and the transition to value-based care is jeopardized.”

Lida Kiefer Named Practice Manager of The Wright Center for Community Health’s Hawley Location

Scranton, Pa. (March 8, 2021) – The Wright Center for Community Health recently promoted longtime clinical employee Lida Kiefer to the leadership role of Practice Manager.

Kiefer will lead The Wright Center’s Hawley Practice at 103 Spruce Street, where she will be responsible for daily operations including oversight of patient flow, staff and services. The Wayne County office is home to 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.

A graduate of McCann School of Business and Technology, Kiefer joined The Wright Center in 2012 as an administrative assistant and worked her way up to the role of certified medical assistant II. She most recently served 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. In addition to her leadership responsibilities at Hawley as Practice Manager, Kiefer will also serve as a medical assistant there.

“Throughout her career at The Wright Center, Lida has demonstrated her dedication to our mission of improving the health and welfare of our community. This promotion is a great fit for her proven skills and experience,” said Kathleen Barry, Deputy Chief Operating Officer. Kiefer resides in Honesdale.

The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education Names Michelle Ostroski Interim Associate Designated Institutional Official

Scranton, Pa. (March 4, 2021) – Michelle Ostroski, a licensed social worker with a background in nonprofit healthcare and educational settings, has been named interim Associate Designated Institutional Official (ADIO) for The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education.

In this leadership role, Ostroski is responsible for supporting and sustaining an environment that promotes academic excellence. The Wright Center trains close to 250 physician learners enrolled in internal medicine, family medicine and psychiatry residency programs as well as gastroenterology, geriatrics and cardiovascular disease fellowships.

The ADIO oversees academic and organizational compliance with accrediting bodies and partnering institutions of higher learning, and also monitors the quality and safety of clinical learning venues where Wright Center residents and fellows rotate through. As the largest Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Consortium in the country, The Wright Center trains doctors 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. Residents and fellows train at Wright Center clinics and hospital systems throughout Northeast Pennsylvania as well as locations in four states across two coasts, including Tucson, Arizona (El Rio Community Health Center); New Richmond, Ohio (HealthSource of Ohio); Auburn, Washington (HealthPoint); and Washington, D.C. (Unity Health Care).

Ostroski joined The Wright Center in June as the Director of Graduate Medical Education Workforce Operations, promoting innovative learning opportunities and best practices in education, and will continue to maintain that role in addition to her new responsibilities.

“Michelle’s commitment to empowering our residents and fellows with the best educational experience possible makes her a great fit for this role,” said Dr. Jumee Barooah, Designated Institutional Official for The Wright Center.

“My goal is to foster a collaborative learning environment that optimizes the training physician learners receive at The Wright Center and each of our partnering sites,” Ostroski said. “Ensuring these community-minded doctors emerge as competent and compassionate primary care providers goes to the heart of The Wright Center’s mission.” Ostroski earned her master’s degree in social work with specialization in behavioral health from Marywood University, and her bachelor’s in secondary education and English at Temple University. She is pursuing her doctorate in education and leadership in healthcare from Nebraska Methodist College and resides in Forty Fort.