Regional native spearheads startup of The Wright Center’s North Pocono Practice
Amanda Turoni, DNP, CRNP, FNP-c, a board-certified nurse practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, provides primary and preventive care services that cover the life span from pediatrics to geriatrics at the new Wright Center for Community Health North Pocono Practice, 260 Daleville Highway, Covington Township. The clinic treats patients of all ages and insurance statuses, including individuals who use Medicaid and are underinsured or uninsured.
Amanda Turoni advocated for the creation of a primary care clinic to serve her adopted community in the Moscow area
While driving in her rural community, Amanda Turoni, DNP, CRNP, FNP-c, began noticing empty sites in Northeast Pennsylvania where doctor’s offices once stood and grew concerned about an apparent decline in the availability of nearby primary care.
Turoni, a board-certified nurse practitioner and Lackawanna County native, soon began a quest, seeking a solution that would keep high-quality health care close at hand for her immediate neighbors and others in the North Pocono School District.
She dug into local demographics to demonstrate the community’s need. She talked with health care professionals and leaders of an area food pantry. She even surveyed families in the school district, gauging their interest in a close-to-home clinic.
Finally, Turoni summarized all her findings and presented them to the top executives at her workplace, The Wright Center for Community Health – pitching a plan for the organization to launch a small practice about 12 miles southeast of downtown Scranton.
The Wright Center evaluated Turoni’s proposal and her passion to serve. She received the green light.
The new Wright Center for Community Health North Pocono Practice – located in the North Pocono 502 Professional Plaza at 260 Daleville Highway, Suite 103 – opened April 25. The clinic treats patients of all ages and insurance statuses, including individuals who use Medicaid and are underinsured or uninsured. Its hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Appointments can be made by visiting TheWrightCenter.org or by calling 570-591-5150.
The new North Pocono Practice is open four days per week, and health care provider Amanda Turoni considers the expansion to that Lackawanna County community part of The Wright Center’s natural ‘branching out’ to better serve the region’s residents, especially those in rural and underserved areas.
“I want to help my community,” says Turoni, 29, who during her short career has pursued advanced nursing degrees, culminating in a Doctor of Nursing Practice. “It’s the nurse in me. I don’t want to tell a patient who is sick in the middle of winter that they need to drive to a clinic in Scranton or Jermyn.”
The new clinic, located in a Covington Township building that formerly housed another medical practice, contains six exam rooms and a dedicated sick patient examination room with a separate entrance. The Wright Center remodeled the space, adding fresh paint, new carpeting and equipment. Turoni, who will treat patients there four days per week, considers the expansion part of The Wright Center’s natural “branching out” to better serve the region’s residents, especially those in rural and underserved areas.
The North Pocono Practice is the ninth clinic operated by The Wright Center for Community Health, joining sites in Clarks Summit, Hawley, Jermyn, Kingston, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Each practice is open to new patients of all income levels.
“Our intent has been to establish primary care practices in locations where, for various reasons, large numbers of residents previously had lacked access to high-quality, affordable, nondiscriminatory care,” says Dr. Jignesh Sheth, The Wright Center’s chief medical officer. “Amanda’s proposal fit within our strategy and matched with our mission.”
The Wright Center received designation in mid-2019 as a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike, reflecting its steadfast commitment to serve vulnerable populations and eliminate common barriers to health care such as expense and transportation.
For certain residents in the North Pocono territory, Turoni says, the main obstacle to receiving timely care is a lack of locally based providers. “Many area residents have recently lost their primary care because physicians relocated outside the immediate area or are retiring,” she says. “So, the issue of accessibility is a big thing; if there’s not a doctor close to them, they’re not going to go. Yet they need the care.”
The new clinic supplies primary and preventive care services, covering the life span from pediatrics to geriatrics. It serves a patient population that especially can benefit from chronic care management of issues such as hypertension and diabetes.
Turoni envisions the clinic as a community hub, helping patients and non-patients alike. “If you want to establish care with us and become a patient who is seen here regularly, you can,” she says. “But if not, we can help you out in a pinch, too. That’s what I like most about The Wright Center. We love our patients, but we’re not exclusive to them. If the broader community needs our assistance, we will respond.”
Turoni, a Spring Brook Township resident and two-year employee of The Wright Center, previously worked in the emergency department of Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton. She received her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in 2019 from Misericordia University. The Taylor native is a 2011 graduate of Riverside High School, where she first exhibited a tendency to set a goal and methodically pursue it.
A former head cheerleader, she decided as a high school senior to invite all of the district’s past head cheerleaders, or “Miss Vikings,” to a season-ending dance recital. She scoured yearbooks, then contacted the women through mutual acquaintances and via Facebook, ultimately welcoming about a dozen women on stage, including grads from the early 1990s.
Turoni showed a similar determination while researching – and advocating for – the viability of a North Pocono Practice. In this case, however, there was more on the line than school pride and nostalgia. “The community,” she says, “needs it.”