Healthy Initiatives

Improving Health, Changing Lives

The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education improve the health and welfare of the communities it serves through inclusive and responsive health services and the sustainable renewal of an inspired, competent workforce that is privileged to serve.

To accomplish its overarching noble mission, The Wright Center also offers healthy lifestyle and career programming in the regional communities of Northeast Pennsylvania. The following programs are available for individuals to achieve career and/or lifestyle goals:

Group of residents working at their computers

AHEC Scholars Program

Are you a college student interested in the field of health care? The Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Scholars Program seeks students in Pennsylvania health profession degree programs who are interested in working in rural and underserved communities to apply for a competitive, interprofessional two-year, hands-on supplementary course of study focused on providing care in communities with limited resources.

Applicants from disadvantaged and/or rural backgrounds and underrepresented minorities are encouraged to apply. Pennsylvania AHEC Scholars will be trained and mentored by faculty and health professionals working in rural and underserved communities. Eligible health profession programs include medical, dental, pharmacy, nurse practitioner, nursing, physician assistant, social work, physical therapy, occupational therapy, master in public health, and Allied Health two-year programs.

Students must be enrolled in a health profession training program, be in good academic standing, and be willing to commit to two years of program participation before graduation. Interested students must complete an AHEC Scholars application, indicating their interest in and experience with rural and underserved populations and communities. To learn more or apply, visit the website.

 community health worker, Scarlet Pujols Recio, who speaks both English and Spanish, helps to connect patients

Training for community health workers

Community health workers (CHWs) are one of the most in-demand roles in health care today, and a local workforce development organization is offering classes to obtain a certification. Community health workers serve as advocates, social workers, and counselors. They help meet the myriad needs of clients in their neighborhoods, addressing food and housing insecurity to health insurance coverage and utility bill assistance.

The Northeast Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center (AHEC) offers CHW training classes, with the next one starting Sept. 25. The class meets virtually on Mondays and Wednesdays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. through approximately Dec. 11. For more information about the classes, visit the website.  

AHEC also offers monthly informational sessions about CHWs every second Monday of the month. To learn more, visit the website.  

Wright Center residents participating in the Poverty Simulation

Poverty simulation

A poverty simulation held several times a year allows participants to gain a deeper understanding of all the challenges poverty brings. The program is designed to help participants begin to understand the challenges typical low-income individuals and families experience as they struggle from month to month to pay their bills and provide proper housing, nutritious meals, and other necessities for family members.

Through role-playing, individuals assume the roles of family members who live in poverty. Volunteers serve as service and community resource providers, such as bankers, employers, landlords, teachers, law enforcement officials, and more. After the experience, participants can discuss what they’ve learned.

Marywood will host the next poverty simulation on Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. To sign up, contact Debra Youngfelt,, or Leslie Petroff,

The Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center also offers a poverty simulation program. To learn more, visit the website.

Person smoking a cigarette

Smoke cessation

Nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin, according to The American Heart Association. The American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking program can help if you or someone you know wants to quit smoking. The program will teach you about FDA-approved medications that can help you quit, how to make lifestyle changes to make quitting easier, coping strategies to manage stress and avoid weight gain, and how to stay tobacco-free for good. Individual sessions and/or group sessions will be determined based on participants. To learn more, please contact Kari Machelli, RN, CM, at or call  570.877.4190.

Read a Testimonial

“As a smoker for 30 years, I was beginning to lose all hope that I’d ever be able to be successful at quitting. Then, I heard Carly talking about her Freedom From Smoking program through AHEC at an Interagency Council Meeting. I was starting to panic about my use of cigarettes and my health so I decided to sign up for the Smoking Cessation Program. It turns out it was the best decision I’ve made in many years.

“Carly was so supportive and helped me prepare for my quit date by helping me to establish my “reasons” to quit. The free nicotine replacement products made the first few weeks of not smoking much more bearable than I expected. Carly met with me weekly and always helped me to work through different emotions and physical withdrawals through positive thinking and encouragement.

“I am currently a non-smoker for six weeks and feel amazing and like a horrible burden has been lifted from my life. I will forever be grateful to Carly, AHEC and the AMA Freedom From Smoking program!”

– Phoebe Keating

‘Walk with a Doc’

Strap on your sneakers and start the fourth Saturday of the month walking with – and talking to – doctors from The Wright Center for Community Health and the Geisinger Health System. 

The area’s monthly “Walk with a Doc” program promotes physical activity that can transform lives and communities.

For certain participants, the program also helps to break down the “white coat barrier” between physicians and patients by allowing them to get to know one another in a non-clinical setting. The group walks are suitable for people of all fitness levels. Each free, doctor-led event offers an opportunity to get some exercise, learn about a current health topic, and meet new people. So, let’s get moving! 

Meet us at 9 a.m. on the fourth Saturday of the month (except in December) at the Olive Street trailhead of the Lackawanna Heritage Trail, just off Providence Road in Scranton. For trail maps, visit this link. Questions? Contact
Nicole Lipinski at

Resource Materials