Geisinger’s Karena Weikel Selected for Carol Emmott Fellowship

Karena Weikel, Geisinger Health Plan’s chief actuary, has been invited to join the Carol Emmott Fellowship program. She joins 20 other women representing 19 health care organizations across the country in the fellowship’s class of 2021.

“I’m honored to join this group of exceptional women in the Carol Emmott Fellowship program,” Weikel said. “This is an outstanding opportunity for women to grow and develop as leaders in health care through the fellowship alumnae network and mentorship program as we inspire each other to discover innovative ways to manage total health and make health care affordable for everyone.”

The Carol Emmott Fellowship, a program of the Carol Emmott Foundation, accelerates the leadership capacity and national visibility of women in health. The program provides unique support and powerful resources to exceptional women leaders. Fellowship recipients complete a 14-month program with hand-selected mentors and a nationwide network of senior executive leaders in the field.

“This is the most diverse class we’ve inducted since the program started five years ago,” said Anne McCune, CEO of the foundation. “As our nation continues to reel from the greatest health crisis in our lifetimes, it’s essential that we support and invest in women leaders in health care.”

Fellows are nominated by their sponsoring organizations. The competitive process includes the submission of an original impact project proposal designed to accelerate action toward equity in their institutions and communities.

“We are thrilled to have Karena join this incredible program,” said Jaewon Ryu, MD, JD, Geisinger’s president and chief executive officer. “By continuing to invest in the development of leaders like her, we will be able to build on our ability to deliver better care, better experience and greater affordability for our patients and members.”

Fellowship recipients also receive mentorship throughout their tenure from nationally recognized senior executive health leaders. They continue to work for their organizations during the fellowship, building networking relationships with other top leaders and exercising leadership skills as they implement their impact projects.

Weikel was named chief actuary in August 2020 and is directly accountable to the president of Geisinger Health Plan. She is a risk professional who began her career in health care experience in 2001. Weikel is responsible for managing Geisinger’s overall cost of care (expense, vendor), trend mitigation, vendor relations, underwriting, provider and medical economics, risk adjustment, operational and regulatory reporting, pricing and rate filing, trend analysis, reserve and organization-wide financial analytics for all lines of business.

She leads a team of more than 130 highly skilled and experienced professionals who blend math, statistics and business knowledge to develop the analytics and improve revenue and expense that drive GHP’s success. Weikel has been vice president of risk and revenue management since 2015, and previously served as associate vice president of clinical informatics and actuarial director.

Penn State Scranton Annual Holiday Concert Now Virtual

The Annual Holiday Concert presented by Penn State Scranton’s musical ensembles has been delivering yuletide cheer to the campus and community at large for many years.

This year, the tradition continues, albeit a bit differently than usual.

Because of the restrictions put in place by the COVID-19 pandemic, Music Director and Associate Teaching Professor of Music Sharon Ann Toman and the campus’ three musical groups – Penn State Scranton Chorale, The Roc[k]tet and Campus Jazz Band – are presenting the 2020 Holiday Concert as a pre-recorded virtual program instead of the usual duel performances held on campus and at Dunmore’s Grace Bible Church.

Presented as a series of videos, the concert can now be viewed at https://sites.psu.edu/pssnmusic, a WordPress website specifically created for the program by Instructional Designer Griff Lewis.

The concert’s performances were recorded over two days in early November in the Study Learning Center’s Sherbine Lounge by Information Technology Support Specialist Jeremy Palko. That followed more than two months of on-campus rehearsals where Toman put a number of safety measures in place to protect the health of her student musicians.

Despite the atypical setting, the program features its usual assortment of holiday favorites, from renditions of “Frosty the Snowman” and “Sing Noel!” by the Chorale, to the Jazz Band’s interpretations of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra standard, “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24.” Meanwhile, the specialized chorale The Roc[k]tet performed “Three English Carols.”

“Considering our limitations, it really is a quality performance,” Toman said. “It just goes to show we can still do a concert at Penn State Scranton during a pandemic.”

Senior business major and Jazz Band clarinetist Ryan Choa said he was extremely grateful that the show was still able to go on.

“The talented groups were able to be showcased at their best, and I’m very proud that our hard work and dedication paid off, despite the concert being virtual,” Choa said.

“I’m glad that we all got to sing together as a group,” added senior letters, arts and sciences (LAS) major Catherine Huggler, a soprano in the Chorale. “Even though we aren’t able to have a live concert, it was still nice to be able to see and sing with the people that I go to school with.”

Committed to Safety

At the beginning of the fall semester, Toman consulted with administrators from the University’s School of Music regarding the proper protocols for setting up and maintaining a safe rehearsal environment.

The Chorale and Jazz Band members enrolled in Toman’s general education music courses met on campus for their regularly scheduled rehearsals, while The Roc[k]tet met every Friday.

For air circulation purposes, Toman kept each practice limited to 30 minutes. And, to ensure proper social distancing of eight feet between students, she divided the Jazz Band into two sections.

In addition, the wind instruments were equipped with special blue masks with slits in them at the mouth – the same that members of the Penn State Blue Band are currently using, according to Toman. And, to collect the saliva produced by the brass instrumentalists, canine potty-training pads were placed on the floor.

Though it was certainly unusual to play with a mask over his clarinet, Choa said it was a small sacrifice well worth making.

“I felt very safe with the safety precautions that were taken. And Professor Toman would always remind us to wipe down our desks before we started practicing,” he said.

Toman also brought her laptop to every rehearsal so that students could attend via Zoom if they had to quarantine or were feeling under the weather.

“If they felt sick in any way, I told them, ‘I don’t want to see you here,’” Toman said. “I really enforced the COVID protocols and did everything possible to keep rehearsals safe. It was a real challenge, but everything worked out in the end. Life was semi-normal and the students were really happy to be on campus interacting with one another.”

“I was thrilled to be able to continue to meet in person to rehearse this semester,” said senior English major Micah Cameron, a tenor in the Chorale. “Compared to previous semesters, the rehearsal time was significantly truncated, we were all wearing masks — which did make it a little bit more difficult to sing — and we were facing away from Professor Toman. That said, choir rehearsals were the highlight of my week, not just because I enjoy singing, but also because it still resembled a normal activity, which was really nice to be a part of after so many of the things we loved were canceled altogether or moved to Zoom due to the pandemic.”

Multi-Part Production

By the time of the two-day concert taping, the students were ready to go. The ensembles – which include not only students, but also several campus faculty members and local musicians – were positioned diagonally in the Sherbine Lounge, with Palko filming all of the performances.

From there, Lewis edited the footage, adding closed captioning to each video. For the website, he used a WordPress template with a festive red and green aesthetic.

“That made the website design simple,” Lewis said. “The majority of the work is in the videos. Jeremy shot them in one continuous take, which I then edited in Penn State’s Kaltura media management website, and then added the captions. The tricky part was getting the students’ names in an accessible layout for the site, so I used a Canvas page to build it and test accessibility.”

An accomplished musician himself, Lewis worked closely with Toman to ensure the videos had good sound quality.

The results speak for themselves, Toman said.

“Griff and Jeremy did a great job,” Toman said. “I think the website is really wonderful, and I think the students are going to be really impressed by it.”

“It was a real pleasure to work on, especially being a musician,” Lewis said.

Cameron said he’s looking forward to watching the concert.

“Not only am I excited to have our Fall 2020 concert available for everyone to enjoy in a virtual context, but I am pleased that the recording allows for greater accessibility for people who would not normally be able to make our in-person concerts,” Cameron said. “When the pandemic is over, I hope that Penn State will consider recording future band/choir concerts and make them available to the campus community online as well as in person.”

“There were lots of hurdles, but the students had fun,” Toman said. “They’re so happy that they were able to have rehearsals and a concert to share with their family and friends.”

The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute 2020 Cancer Surveillance Report

The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, a community-based nonprofit organization, is pleased to announce the release of the 2020 cancer surveillance report, “Cancer in Northeastern Pennsylvania: Incidence and Mortality for Common Cancers” available at: cancernepa.org. This unique, locally focused report documents that both incidence and mortality rates for cancer are significantly higher in NEPA than the U.S. and identifies those cancer sites for which there is a disparity in either incidence or mortality.

In NEPA, we continue to have statistically significantly higher than U.S. rates for lung and other tobacco related cancers, in both men and women.  In 2010, the National Lung Screening Trial results showed a 20% reduction in lung cancer mortality when using low dose computed tomography (LDCT) when compared to chest x-ray for lung cancer screening. In 2013, the United States Preventive Services Task Force issued a new recommendation on lung cancer screening using LDCT.  This screening is covered by many health insurances including Medicare, however, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of lung cancer screening in those who meet the eligibility criteria and received a recommendation to be screened remain low; only one in eight have been screened.

Also noteworthy is the continued increase in the incidence of colorectal cancer in individuals under the age of 50, while overall incidence continues to decline.  Colorectal cancer is preventable through adequate screening.  We encourage all individuals, age 45 and older, to discuss colon cancer screening with their primary care provider. Clinicians should consider the possibility of an underlying malignancy among patients with symptoms consistent with this diagnosis, including those under the recommended screening initiation age of 45.  This may be especially true in northeast Pennsylvania where the incidence of colorectal cancer is higher than the U.S. average.

The Cancer Institute can provide additional information regarding the latest report, tobacco cessation resources, and assistance in getting screened through our Community Based Cancer Screening Navigation Program. Please feel free to contact the Cancer Institute at (570) 941-7984 or admin@cancernepa.org.

Christmas Photos by Rich Banick Photography

There is still time to have photos taken for Christmas. Rich Banick Photography is offering a few sessions to make things easier for and your family to get ready for Christmas 2020. Call the studio at 570-344-7053 or email: studio@richbanick.com with any questions or to book your Christmas Quick Take or School Portrait session today.

Christmas Quick Take
• Packages start at $69
• Photos taken on our Christmas themed set
• Set is made for children or small families

• Orders placed online with quick turn around
• Prints, Speciality Items, and Cards available
• Call 570-344-7053 today to book a session
• Quick turn around time on all orders

Santa Claus at Jerry’s For All Seasons
Fri – 5:30 PM to 7:30PM
Sat – 10:00 AM to 5 PM
Sun – Noon to 5 PM
Through Dec 20, 2020

• Reservations are required
Click to Book Your Santa Session Online
• 5 minute scheduled session, no lines
• Packages start at $19.99
• View & Order your photos right after session
• Prints delivered onsite
• 201 Jessup Street, Dunmore
• Santa is safely behind a glass divider
• Pets are welcome

School Portraits
If your school did not do school portraits yet, and you would like photos of your student to pass out at Christmas, you can book a school portraits session in our studio. This 5 minute session is done on our regular school background, with the same discount pricing available at schools.

Photos will be ordered online with a quick turn around time. Please call 570-344-7053 to book your session.

William S. Lance Appointed to PA Bankers’ Financial Institution Advisory Committee

William S. Lance, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Wayne Bank, has been appointed to the Pennsylvania Bankers Association’s (PA Bankers’) Financial Institution Advisory Committee.

The committee reviews and recommends proposed tax legislation and regulations and recommends policy positions to PA Bankers. Mr. Lance will serve a two-year term, starting December 1, 2020.

A graduate of the University of Scranton, Mr. Lance has served the banking industry for forty years, including the last ten years at Wayne Bank. In his current position as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, he is responsible for managing the finance division of the Bank. His duties include finance and accounting activities, interest rate risk management, and compliance with regulatory requirements. Mr. Lance has a history of involvement with the PA Bankers and has served the association in various capacities, including Secretary of Group 3 since 2011.

Lackawanna College Named One of the Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania

Lackawanna College ranked No. 21 among 100 companies vying to win a designation as one of the “Best Places to Work” in PA. The College has earned the recognition six of the past seven years.

“Our Lackawanna College Family respects and values our workplace culture and our colleagues and we are so proud to have once again earned the distinction of being named one of the Best Places to Work in PA,” said Dr. Jill Murray, Lackawanna College President. “We will continue to strive for this great honor each year as we go forward.”

This year’s list represented 43 small, 30 medium and 27 large-sized companies. Businesses began the application process in March, and once registered, winners were chosen based on the highest scores in workforce policies, practices, philosophies, systems and demographics and a survey was administered to both employees and employers at hundreds of companies across the commonwealth.

The Best Places to Work in PA is a program of the Central Penn Business Journal, Team Pennsylvania,The Pennsylvania Department for Community & Economic Development, The Pennsylvania State Council and the Society for Human Resource Management and the process is managed by Best Companies Group, an independent research firm. 

WVIA to Air the Scranton Civic Ballet Companies Presentation of “The Nutcracker”

WVIA is proud to announce that along with the Scranton Civic Ballet it will produce and air the ballet company’s 34thannual presentation of “The Nutcracker” on Sunday, December 20th at 6 p.m. on WVIA TV.

This inaugural collaboration is made possible by a generous COVID Creative Community Grant from the Lackawanna County Council on the Arts. “The Nutcracker” presentation, which annually presents an educational performance for 1,200 school children at no charge will now be seen across 21 counties throughout the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and schools will receive a digital link to enhance their virtual curriculum with this artistic performance.

“WVIA is honored to present this performance to the people of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.” Said Carla McCabe WVIA President and CEO.

“Scranton Civic Ballet Company is thrilled to collaborate with WVIA and would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to WVIA and Lackawanna Council on the Arts for providing us an opportunity to share our beloved Nutcracker tradition to the community” said Miss Helen Gaus, artistic director of the Scranton Civic Ballet Company. 

Under the artistic direction of Helen Gaus, 60 students and adults, ranging in age from 8 to 50, will share the timeless tale of Clara, Drosselmeyer and the Nutcracker that unfolds as the delicate Sugar Plum Fairy and all of Tchaikovsky’s musical sprites weave their enchanting spell.

For additional details regarding “The Nutcracker”, visit the Scranton Civic Ballet Company Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ScrantonCivicBallet/.  

Encores of the program will air on Thursday, December 24th at 8 p.m., Friday December 25th at 4 p.m. and Sunday December 27th at 2 p.m. 

The Dime Bank Donates $7,500 to the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties.

The Dime Bank contributed $7,500.00 to the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties Pre-Kindergarten Scholarship Program through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program. The funds will allow the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties to help hundreds of children on a path to a bright future and help our community in many other ways. 136 Pre-K students from income eligible families in four counties received scholarships totaling $282,896 in financial assistance to attend quality pre-kindergarten programs. Summer learning and after-school programs expand on environmental education, music and arts, and support of the robotics initiative to help increase the students’ abilities in the sciences and math. Special projects like the Summer Grow Kit program provide children with important skills such as sustainability through step-by-step directions for growing vegetables from seed to transferring young plants into the ground.

Director of Community Outreach Barry Snyder said, “As we move towards wrapping up our 100th Campaign in NEPA, it’s generous contributions like this that helps us stick to our mission in lifting our neighbors up through this very challenging time.”