The Wright Center expands mission in Luzerne County, increases access to primary health services and health care career development opportunities
Wright Center employees pose for a picture after participating in a press conference that introduced the City of Wilkes-Barre to the new primary and preventive care practice. The Wright Center for Community Health Wilkes-Barre Practice opens Jan. 9.
The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education will increase access to high-quality, comprehensive, affordable primary health services and health care career development opportunities through relocation and expansion of their Kingston primary care and workforce development center into downtown Wilkes-Barre.
The Wright Center for Community Health recently completed the purchase and is repurposing a 34,460-square-foot building at 169 N. Pennsylvania Ave. The more than 3-acre site enables the nonprofit community health center to expand opportunities for regional residents to receive integrated, whole-person primary health care at one convenient location. The new primary care clinic will educate primary care physicians, medical students, and interprofessional health students from regionally and nationally affiliated academic institutions. The center will open Monday, Jan. 9, at 8 a.m.
“We are honored to have this opportunity in Luzerne County to expand the delivery of our mission to improve the health and welfare of the communities we serve through inclusive and responsive health services and the sustainable renewal of an inspired and competent workforce that is privileged to serve,” said Linda Thomas-Hemak, M.D., FACP, FAAP, president and CEO of The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education. “We are grateful for and inspired by Gov. Tom Wolf’s validating, generous Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program award.
Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, president and CEO of The Wright Center, delivers remarks during the press conference at the new Wilkes-Barre Practice.
“We are also grateful to and inspired by our supportive governmental and legislative leaders, Sordoni Construction, and all of our partners who made this development project in Wilkes-Barre possible. We look forward to giving back through the regional and local community benefit impact we deliver,” Dr. Thomas-Hemak added. “Together, we are building a preferred future in which everyone will benefit from a health system that prioritizes equity, quality, and affordability of comprehensive primary health care services and career opportunities.
“Our deep investment into Wilkes-Barre will enable The Wright Center to grow our operations and our collaborative, interprofessional relationships to ensure everyone in the service area has equitable access to whole-person primary health services, regardless of their ZIP code, insurance status, or ability to pay. We are equally committed to pipeline, community-driven partnerships to open up dream mapping about health care career opportunities, so the demographics of our future health care workforce can better and more inclusively reflect the demographics of our regional community,” she added.
State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski addresses the audience during a press conference to introduce Luzerne County to the new Wright Center for Community Health Wilkes-Barre Practice.
In 2019, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) designated The Wright Center for Community Health as a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike, providing resources that allow the nonprofit organization to further assist medically underserved rural and urban communities and vulnerable populations, including people who are underinsured and uninsured. With a sliding-fee discount program available, The Wright Center reduces barriers to care by ensuring health care is affordable for everyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay. The Wright Center’s network of clinics in Northeast Pennsylvania primarily serves patients from Lackawanna, Luzerne, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming counties.
The Wright Center is no stranger to Luzerne County. The enterprise has operated teaching health centers in Wilkes-Barre and Kingston for many years and partnered on several public health initiatives with community resource agencies. The Wright Center for Community Health has utilized its 34-foot mobile medical unit, better known as Driving Better Health, to further address barriers to quality care in several underserved communities, partnering with social service organizations and school districts in lower Luzerne County to deliver routine vaccinations, COVID-19 vaccinations, boosters, and testing to where people live, work, and study.
The first phase of the new clinical, educational and administrative center in Wilkes-Barre will be open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on holidays that occur Monday through Saturday.
Dr. Jignesh Sheth, chief medical officer, left, discusses the Wilkes-Barre Practice with Mayor George Brown and state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski.
The center has ample, off-street parking and is within walking distance of downtown Wilkes-Barre, the James F. Conahan Intermodal Transportation Center, and public transportation bus stops. It will offer family-friendly primary medical, behavioral, and addiction and recovery services across the lifespan, from pediatrics to geriatrics. Ultimately, its integrated services will offer patients the convenience of going to a single location to access full-service primary medical, dental, behavioral health, addiction and recovery services, and other supportive programs.
Over the next several months, The Wright Center will hopefully be adding more than 25 medical examination rooms, 30 behavioral health rooms, and 10 dental operatories to increase access. The new facility will also include state-of-the-art conference and learning rooms, complete with audio-visual technology, computers, and more for provider care teams and learners, as well as dedicated space for partnering community resource agencies. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.