The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education Celebrates Class of 2020 with Virtual Commencement

The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education (TWCGME) streamed a celebration for graduating residents and fellows Friday, June 19, online at The virtual event was designed to accommodate social distancing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Class of 2020 included 60 graduates from TWCGME’s internal medicine, regional family medicine and national family medicine residencies as well as its cardiovascular disease fellowship program.

Commencement featured remarks and congratulations from Wright Center board members Gerard Geoffroy and Harold Baillie, Ph.D.; graduates and program directors as well as executive leadership, including Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, CEO of The Wright Center for Community Health (TWCCH) and President of TWCGME; Dr. Jignesh Y. Sheth, Chief Medical Officer of TWCCH and Senior Vice President of Operations for TWCGME; Dr. Jumee Barooah, Designated Institutional Official for TWCGME; and attorney Jennifer J. Walsh, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for TWCGME.

Local graduates include: Dr. Graham Yeager, Waverly Twp.; and Dr. Matthew McDonnell, Pittston, both of the internal medicine residency program. Other internal medicine residency graduates who plan to stay in Northeast Pennsylvania to practice medicine or continue their studies include Dr. Tapan Buch, who will begin a cardiology fellowship with TWCGME in July; Dr. Prasanthi Limgala, who will join Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton; Dr. Kelly O’Leary, who will practice with Adfinitas Health at Regional Hospital of Scranton; Dr. Fouzia Oza, who is joining Regional Hospital of Scranton as a hospitalist; Dr. Nirali Patel, who will serve as internal medicine physician faculty at TWCGME while also embarking on a geriatrics fellowship tract; and Dr. Muhhamad Pir and Dr. Najam Saqib, both of whom will stay in Scranton at TWCGME for cardiology fellowships.

The Wright Center to Host Vaccine Clinics

The Wright Center for Community Health will host a series of Vaccine Clinics this summer at its Lackawanna and Luzerne county practices. The clinics are a community-wide initiative to ensure children and adults of all ages stay on track with timely vaccinations. Given the recent COVID-19 crisis, many families may have lacked the ability for well check-ups, inoculations and in-person patient care.

“Vaccines are the best way that you can protect your child from a number of diseases as serious as COVID-19, including pneumonia, diphtheria, measles, mumps, chickenpox, meningococcal disease, whooping cough, polio and cancers caused by Hepatitis B or HPV,” explained Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, CEO of The Wright Center for Community Health and president of The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education. “Skipping or delaying these important immunizations, especially in early childhood, can create severe waves of preventable disease outbreaks in the months and years ahead. The risk will be real when families finally emerge from quarantine with infants, toddlers and children who have not been inoculated against these life-threatening illnesses. This scenario, especially if combined with another surge of COVID-19, could be devastating for families, communities and already stressed healthcare systems.”

For more information, please call The Wright Center for Community Health’s Scranton Practice at 570-941-0630.

Please note: Parents must bring a copy of their child’s immunization record. Families can sign up for appointments here.

Reflecting on Children: International Youth Day

Did you know: “More than 15M children in the U.S. live in homes in which domestic violence has happened at least once and are at greater risk for repeating the cycle as adults by entering into abusive relationships or becoming abusers themselves.” Abuse takes many forms:

  • Every 10 seconds, a report of child abuse is made. And a staggering 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they’re 18 years old.
  • These figures alone are beyond troubling, and they don’t even account for the countless other children and young adults who are victims of emotional abuse – directed toward them or as a result of seeing abuse of another family member.
  • The effects of any form of abuse in childhood can last a lifetime. In the short term, children feel fear, anxiety, guilt and low self-esteem. In the long term, these victims often face physical

For more information visit

Lackawanna College Names Scranton Police Chief as Director of Public Safety

Lackawanna College joined the City of Scranton to announce that Police Chief Carl R. Graziano has been named the College’s Director of Public Safety.

“Chief Graziano has been an instructor for several years at the College, but we are thrilled that he will now work with us in a full-time capacity,” said Lackawanna College President Dr. Jill Murray. “This even further strengthens our wonderful relationship with the City of Scranton.”

Graziano will be retiring from the Scranton Police Department after 28 years of service. “Although we are sad that Chief Graziano will be leaving his role with the City, we are fortunate that he is only just going up the street and will continue to work with the City, Scranton PD, and our young residents,” said Mayor Paige G. Cognetti. “Chief Graziano has been, and will continue to be, a tremendous asset to our entire community and a resource for us here at the City.”

In his role as Director of Public Safety, Graziano will lead the College’s public safety team, which provides law enforcement, security and emergency services for the faculty, staff and students as well as the surrounding community of downtown Scranton. “I have enjoyed a great career with the Scranton Police Department and am excited to take on this new role at Lackawanna College,” Graziano said.

Graziano has been a member of the Scranton Police Department for the past 28 years serving in various ranks with the last 8 years serving as Chief of Police. He is a graduate of the Lackawanna College Police Academy, The FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. and the Northwestern University School of Police Command. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Keystone College and master’s degree in criminal justice from Arizona State University. Graziano is also an instructor at the Lackawanna College Police Academy and an adjunct criminal justice instructor at the University of Scranton and at Keystone College.

Lackawanna College Adjusts Student Housing Policies Due to COVID-19

Dr. Jill A. Murray sent the following letter to the Lackawanna College Community announcing changes to the student housing policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These policies will reduce the number of students in residence halls to no more than 20% capacity, helping to maintain a safe learning environment for students, faculty and staff.

Dear Members of the College Community,

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Lackawanna College has been committed to reopening our main campus and our satellite centers as soon as possible in a safe and structured manner. We continue to closely monitor the progression of COVID-19 and to consult with numerous health officials to implement measures to protect members of our community. Our number one priority has been and will continue to be the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.

To create the safest environment possible, the College is adjusting its housing policy to reduce the number of students in its residence halls to no more than 20% capacity. We have come to the very difficult decision that housing will be limited to certain majors requiring hands-on instruction and students with extenuating circumstances, which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the College. This will allow us to create the safest learning and living environments for those students living on-campus. Students who were planning to live in our residence halls will be contacted individually regarding their personal circumstances. Also, to accommodate this move, more classes will be moved to a remote format. Students should check their schedules for any updates.

I want to thank each and every one of you – our students, faculty and staff – as well as parents and families and the greater communities of northeastern and central Pennsylvania for working with us, being patient with us, and trusting us during these extraordinary times.

We know that you want to be fully back on campus and return to normalcy, and we do too. Providing a quality education to our students will always be of the utmost importance to us, and although it may look a little different this year, know that we are here for you, and we will continue to offer the unmatched local support that makes us this community’s college.

It is so disappointing to all of us at the College to have to share decisions like this, but please know that this situation is temporary, and this too shall pass. We are a Falcon Family and we will get through this together. Stay strong, stay safe, and stay healthy!

Sincerely, Dr. Jill A. Murray
President, Lackawanna College

Judge Giordano Appointed Chair of Northampton County Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Ad Hoc Committee

The Honorable Emil Giordano (Ret.), a Member of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., and Co-Chair of its Litigation Practice Group, has been appointed the Chair for the newly-created Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Ad Hoc Committee within the Northampton County Bar Association.

“More than ever, attorneys must now utilize creative and efficient alternatives to traditional litigation when assisting clients with legal disputes. It is our duty to teach the effective use of ADR as a path outside of traditional litigation to bring about a faster way of achieving results,” said Judge Giordano.

About the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee

What might have been characterized as the typical or routine delays built into a legal dispute may be now exacerbated by new delays as our courts address the complications of a national pandemic leaving parties waiting longer and longer for their day in court. Forums for mediation or arbitration can move quickly over several weeks, providing relief to the disputing parties and enabling them to get back to their lives and businesses.

The Special Ad Hoc Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution will focus on initiatives and education aimed at most effectively bringing ADR techniques and proceedings to bear on legal disputes to help avoid costly and time-consuming traditional litigation. The first meeting for this committee will be held Tuesday, August 11, at 8:00 a.m. on Zoom. If you are interested in joining this committee, please email Mary Beth at to register and to receive the meeting login information.

About Judge Giordano

Judge Giordano served as a presiding judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Third Judicial District, from 2004 through 2018. He was Northampton County’s first administrative judge of the Orphans’ County Division, overseeing estates and trusts of the county, and was named to the Statewide Orphans’ Court Task Force, an organization charged with implementing changes to Orphans Court. He was also the first judge in Pennsylvania to institute guardianship certification requirements for the protection of senior citizens.

For 15 years, Judge Giordano presided over many jury trials and non-jury trials, hearings and motions, and a wide range of disputes under Pennsylvania and federal law, including construction, commercial litigation, professional malpractice, CERCLA, Civil Rights, condemnations, labor and land use appeals, criminal, and domestic relations.

As an arbitrator and mediator, Judge Giordano is certified through Harvard Law School Negotiation Institute in Advanced Mediation. He is a fellow of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators; is affiliated with the American Arbitration Association (AAA) Mediation; has been inducted into the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals (NADN) as a Diplomate Member for mediation; and has been selected to serve as an arbitrator and mediator to the Judicial Roster, Real Estate, and Pennsylvania at Large ADR Panels of Distinguished Neutrals for the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution.

Judge Giordano is a member of the Board of Directors for the Notre Dame CYO, and of the Board of Governors for Saint Thomas More Society; and is the Northampton County Bar Association Wills and Trusts Committee Lecturer. In 2005, he was the first judicial recipient of the Lehigh Valley Crime Victims Council Award for Outstanding Commitment to Victims’ Rights. On January 1, 2020, Judge Giordano was designated Vice-Chair of the statewide Orphans’ Court Procedural Rules Committee by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Judge Giordano earned his J.D. in 1985 from Villanova University School of Law and his B.A. from Moravian College in 1982. A proud Moravian College alumnus, he serves as an Adjunct Professor for undergraduate classes. Born in Brooklyn to Italian immigrant parents, Judge Giordano was the first in his family to attend high school and is a graduate of Bethlehem Catholic High School, which presented him with its Distinguished Graduate Award.

Keystone Mission Backpack Giveaway

Keystone Mission is holding a Backpack Giveaway, on Tuesday, August 25 from 12:00–2:00 p.m. at its Scranton and Wilkes-Barre location.

The special distribution program will provide pre-filled backpacks with supplies for children for the start of their school year. Supplies can range from school supplies (pencils, crayons, markers, tablets, pocket folders, notebooks), hand sanitizer, masks, bottled water, granola bars, or other items that would help children for school.

Donors can come with the new backpack filled with the items and drop them off at either our Scranton or Wilkes-Barre location from 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Donations will be accepted from now until August 22.

This upcoming program will benefit the children on Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.

For questions regarding the distribution, call or e-mail Matt at (570) 871–4795 or

Education Grants Awarded to Area School Entities

Three school entities in the 117th Legislative District have been awarded education grants for the upcoming academic year, according to Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming).

Continuity of Education and Equity (CEEG) grants are designed to help provide access and inclusion for all learners by bridging the gap for students who are currently limited in their ability to participate in the continuity of education.

Those local school entities receiving grants include:

  • Luzerne IU 18 – $15,650.
  • Northwest Area School District – $16,500.
  • Tunkhannock Area School District – $57,75

“During the current health crisis, it is important that Pennsylvania continues to deliver the best possible education to every child,” said Boback. “These grants will help our schools acquire the necessary resources to connect with students who are ready to learn.”  

The funding may be used to purchase computer equipment, such as laptops, tablets and internet hot spots. In addition, it can be used toward providing instructional materials, such as paper lessons and coursework. Schools with the highest percentages of students lacking access to resources were given priority in receiving a CEEG.

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) provided $5 million to fund 96 applications, through the federal CARES Act. PDE is now able to provide an additional $13 million.

Greater Scranton YMCA Will Hold School Age Program During 2020-2021 School Year

This fall, the Greater Scranton YMCA will hold a program Monday through Friday, partial week or full week, for school age children. The program will feature learning/homework assistance, distance learning sessions, swimming, character development and more and will be adjusted to the needs of each student and the school district they attend.

The Greater Scranton YMCA understands the fear and uncertainty parents are feeling surrounding the start of the upcoming school year. The Y is the largest provider of child care in the U.S. and we know how important it is for parents to know their children have a safe, nurturing place to go while they’re working.

“We are proud to support the families from our community who are in need of care for their children during the upcoming school year,” said Trish Fisher, President & CEO, Greater Scranton YMCA. “Our School Age Program will provide students opportunities for learning support and physical activity in a safe and encouraging setting while their parents continue to work.”

At the Y, our top priority is the health and well-being of our members, staff and community, and we are working hard to ensure our facility meets the highest standard for hygiene and safety based on CDC, state and local health guidelines. The registration deadline for the School Age Program is August 19th, 2020 (registration is first come, first served). For more information and to access the parent registration handbook, please visit our website here. For questions, contact Leigh Miller, Education Director, at (570) 346-5003 or

WVIA receives Mid-Atlantic Regional Emmy Award® Nomination

WVIA Executive Producer Ben Payavis and Producer / Director John Mikulak have been nominated by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for a 2020 Mid-Atlantic Regional Emmy® Award in the Human Interest – Program Feature/Segment category for the production of the VIA Short Takes episode Mark Jury… Beyond Demons.

Featured as part of the WVIA short documentary series VIA Short Takes, the episode features the story of Waverly, PA photojournalist Mark Jury, who captured striking images from the frontlines of the Vietnam war that were published to great acclaim in The Vietnam Photo Book. After publishing “The Vietnam Photo Book”, veteran Mark Jury enjoyed worldwide success as a photojournalist and documentary filmmaker, but he began to suffer from undiagnosed PTSD. After decades of alcoholism, suicide attempts and madness, the piece showcases how Mark finally takes steps toward long-term treatment and a way to move past his pain.

“The program honored this year by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences showcases WVIA’s commitment to highlight local stories and bring them to national audiences.” Carla McCabe, President/CEO at WVIA said. “We are proud of our Emmy® nominated production team that continues to produce programs that feature the dedication and professionalism that members and viewers of WVIA have grown to expect. As we expand our local output, recognition like this is a nice reminder that we are on the right path.”

“Our Content team is very proud of the nomination and we are looking forward to presenting more stories of regional people in season two of VIA Short Takes coming in January 2021” said Ben Payavis, WVIA Chief Content Officer and Executive Producer. 

The full list of this year’s nominees can be found at: . The 2020 Mid-Atlantic Regional Emmy® Awards will be presented on Saturday, September 19, 2020.

Mark Jury… Beyond Demons is available to watch anytime online at