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Wright Center’s Director of HIV and Preventive Services Named Inspirational Man of NEPA by Happenings Magazine

As Director of HIV and Preventive Services at The Wright Center for Community Health, Shane Cobert measures his own success by the improved outcomes enjoyed by his colleagues and the patients they serve.

Since joining the team of The Wright Center’s Ryan White Clinic — which provides a full continuum of HIV/AIDS care to nearly 500 active patients and medical case management to nearly 250 clients from a seven-county radius in Northeast Pennsylvania — Cobert has grounded his work in passionate advocacy and results-driven practices that best meet the needs of the diverse population that comes through the Scranton clinic’s doors.

“My approach to my work is to be methodical and straight forward. I have and maintain a high standard for the work I produce and expect,” he explained. “I want to make sure that as I lead a team, project, program or business, I am a subject matter expert.

“I have a personal connection to the HIV community, and that allows me to best develop programs and services alongside the robust team I work with, which includes a dozen clinicians and even more medical case managers and administrators. Together, we make sure our care is as impactful as possible and meets the needs of our clients.”

In his role as director, Cobert works with clinical teams to ensure the seamless delivery of specialty medical services as well as linkage to support programs that provide assistance with things like medication coverage and emergency financial help. As he propels strategic outreach initiatives forward, Cobert maintains a collaborative managerial style that allows each member of the multidisciplinary Ryan White staff to bring their best to the table. 

“I’m always open to listening to my colleague’s ideas and opinions, and I’m lucky to work with incredible individuals whose talents, skills and education balance each other so cohesively,” he said. “I love working at The Wright Center and being an active voice for our Ryan White programs, partly because I have the ability to see the direct impact of the services we provide.”

Cobert is also responsible for collecting crucial data and ensuring that all aspects of the clinic meet the rigorous standards set forth by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which bestowed the Ryan White designation upon The Wright Center more than 20 years ago. Over the last two decades, great strides have been made in fight against HIV and AIDS; chief among them, The Wright Center’s Ryan White patients have achieved an 89% viral suppression rate thanks to the dogged efforts of the care teams to help clients adhere to their medications and get the additional help and support they need. When clients’ viral loads reach the important benchmark of being undetectable, the virus becomes untransmittable.

Yet there is always more work to be done. Cobert and his team are committed to HRSA’s virus elimination campaign, which includes national goals of 75% reduction in new HIV infections by 2025, and at least 90% reduction by 2030.

Locally, Cobert says, there is still great need in the community — both within and outside of the medical field — to eliminate stigma, encourage testing (which The Wright Center offers confidentiality), and link and retain patients to care. The clinic also emphasizes the importance of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a prevention method in which HIV-negative people take a daily pill to reduce their risk of becoming infected. When used consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV-1 infection among adult men and women at very high risk for HIV infection.

“Educating the community about HIV truths and myths is extremely important, as I have seen first hand the impact of what happens due to a lack of understanding,” Cobert said. “We are continuing to work on growing our community outreach and increasing knowledge, because there’s still many who don’t understand HIV transmission, treatment and prevention.”

But armed with his clear-eyed focus and firm belief that reaching these goals for a healthier country and local community is entirely possible, Cobert has emerged as an inspirational voice for the vulnerable and underserved.

“I love overcoming challenges and working together to create new programs, policies, procedures and services that benefit our entire region,” he said.

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