Wright Center employee receives statewide honor as health center ‘community ambassador’
Kara Seitzinger, executive director of public affairs and advisor liaison to The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education’s president and CEO, was named by the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers as the recipient of a 2023 Award for Primary Care Excellence (APEX) in recognition of her work as a community ambassador.
The association annually bestows its APEX awards in 10 categories to recognize the outstanding efforts of dedicated individuals and teams who work or volunteer for Pennsylvania’s community health centers. An APEX represents the pinnacle of service, quality, innovation, and achievement in primary health care. The association awarded two Community Ambassador Awards this year.
A Scranton resident, Seitzinger received the award on Oct. 11 at the association’s Annual Conference and Clinical Summit in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
“Kara is truly worthy of this prestigious award. I cannot think of anyone who is a stronger advocate for the patients, families, and communities we serve,” said Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, president and CEO of The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education. “She embodies the mission of The Wright Center to improve the health and welfare of our communities through inclusive and responsive health services and the sustainable renewal of an inspired, competent workforce that is privileged to serve.
“Thanks to her efforts, our patients and families struggling with food insecurity receive nutritious foods; community members who need warm clothing are given winter garments; and those who need transportation to doctor’s appointments receive travel vouchers. Her monumental public service efforts are honestly hard to quantify, but our communities are healthier and safer because of her reliable and tireless efforts.”
The Community Ambassador Award is “presented to an individual who champions the community health center mission through a steadfast commitment to build relationships, enact change, and promote awareness and bring positive attention to their health center,” according to the association.
Seitzinger works to expand The Wright Center’s visibility and public health impact throughout the region, often identifying and joining forces with mission-aligned community partners to conduct outreach programs that support vulnerable populations and medically underserved communities.
As part of a collaboration with the CDC Foundation, she coordinated with government, business, and nonprofit leaders at the height of the coronavirus pandemic to launch a public health campaign in the Hazleton area to expand access to COVID-19 education, testing, vaccines, and treatment. Later, the campaign also succeeded in delivering CDC-recommended childhood vaccinations to more than 700 school-aged children, enabling their uninterrupted participation in the classroom.
Seitzinger has also played a key role in the planning and execution of fundraising events that allow The Wright Center to provide goods and services to patients and community members in need. For example, the “Road to Recovery” car show in Scranton helps to offset transportation costs for certain individuals who are served by The Wright Center’s Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence and Healthy MOMs program so they can get to and from their medical appointments.
Seitzinger often serves as the health center’s point person for high-profile community impact projects, such as sponsoring the region’s annual PrideFest Parade, most recently held in Wilkes-Barre. The Wright Center’s participation in the event helps to raise awareness of its Ryan White HIV Clinic and to reach community members who might otherwise not have the resources needed to seek care.
The Wright Center currently operates 10 primary and preventive care practices in Northeast Pennsylvania, including a mobile medical vehicle called Driving Better Health. Its practices offer integrated whole-person care, meaning patients typically have the convenience of going to a single location to access medical, dental, and behavioral health care, as well as community-based addiction treatment and recovery services. It accepts most major health insurance plans, including Medical Assistance (Medicaid), Medicare, and CHIP, noting that no patient is turned away due to an inability to pay.