Geisinger and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Announce Affiliation Agreement

Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) today announced an affiliation agreement that will increase access to and further advance the delivery of pediatric health care to families in central and northeast Pennsylvania. The affiliation seeks to leverage the combined expertise and infrastructure of the two organizations, ensuring that children in the region receive the right care,at the right time, in the right place, delivered by the best clinical team to meet their medical needs.

Initially focused on increasing access to excellence in quaternary, or the most advanced, specialized levels of pediatric care, the affiliation will expand to include several distinct agreements aimed at improving pediatric health care for children across the vast spectrum of pediatric disorders. Clinicians from CHOP and Geisinger have already begun to collaborate across numerous clinical areas including Cardiology/Cardiac Surgery, Radiology, and Laboratory Services, utilizing enhanced technology powered by virtual connections and electronic medical record (EMR) capabilities. The alliance will provide access to CHOP’s expertise in rare and complex diseases, while harnessing Geisinger’s well-established outpatient general and specialty pediatric programs and inpatient services at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital.

The affiliation also supports the health care, education and research missions of both organizations.
“This is an important and innovative step forward for pediatric care in Pennsylvania. When two great institutions work together to improve pediatric care delivery, our children and families win,” said Frank Maffei, MD, chair of Department of Pediatrics at Geisinger. “The affiliation promotes collaboration in delivering the highest quality pediatric care in a family-centered manner. The approach will allow families to stay as close to home as possible while receiving nationally acclaimed care. We are committed in providing the full spectrum of pediatric care to support the health and well-being of children in our collective communities.”

“CHOP and Geisinger share a dedication to improving children’s health,” said Steve Docimo, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Care Network at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “We look forward to an alliance that will provide families access to the best of both of our organizations. Together, we will keep children’s well-being at the center of all we do to advance patient care.”

2021 ATHENA Leadership Award Recipient Announced

Marion Munley, Esq. (center) with (l to r) Kristine Augustine, Chamber; Mari Potis, Chamber; Donna Barbetti, Michael A Barbetti LLC Certified Public Accountants; and Melinda Ghilardi, Esq., Munley Law.

We are pleased to announce Marion Munley, Esq., Munley Law, as the 2021 ATHENA Leadership Award recipient.

Marion embodies the character of the ATHENA Award, which honors an exceptional individual who has achieved excellence in their business or profession, has served the community in a meaningful way and has assisted women in their attainment of professional goals and leadership skills.

“Marion is an exceptional example of a community leader paving the way for others. She fights for her clients, commits time to the Lackawanna County community, and ensures the mentorship of young women with careers in law,” says Bob Durkin, president of The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce. “She is an admirable and deserving recipient of this prestigious award.”

For more than 30 years, Marion has made her mark in the male-dominated area of trucking law as a dedicated and skilled litigator, taking lead on some of Pennsylvania’s largest and groundbreaking legal victories. For a decade Marion provided free legal services to those in need at the Hope Center for Northeastern Pennsylvania. She has supported Lackawanna Pro Bono for more than 20 years, sponsors scholarships at the University of Scranton, Marywood University and Johnson College, as well as contributes to many other local charitable organizations.

Marion mentors young women aspiring to or beginning a career in law. Particularly at Munley Law, she makes herself available for advice and questions and ensures they have a role in the firm’s big cases, local networking events, and national conferences. In 2020, Marion received the AAJ’s Marie Lambert Award for her commitment to the legal profession, her community, and the advancement of women in law.

The ATHENA Award was first presented in 1982 in Lansing, Michigan and has grown to include presentations to more than 5,000 individuals in hundreds of cities in the United States as well as in Canada, China, Russia and the United Kingdom. The award takes the form of a hand-cast bronze sculpture symbolizing the strength, courage and wisdom of the recipient. The ATHENA Award® Program is nationally underwritten by General Motors and National City Bank. Local sponsorship is provided by Michael A. Barbetti LLC Certified Public Accountants.  

Marion will be honored at the Chamber’s International Women’s Day Luncheon to be held virtually on Monday, March 8.


Safe, Free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Offered

Accounting students from The University of Scranton will follow an adjusted contactless process to assist local residents with filing their federal, state and local tax returns as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The process for this year has been adjusted to because of COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

The free service is available to residents of Lackawanna and Wayne counties with household incomes of $57,000 or less for 2020.

Qualified clients can provide the information needed to complete tax forms (see below) in a secure “drop-off box” located in the University Police Department, 820 Mulberry Street. Forms will be processed remotely by University student volunteers. Clients will be contacted by phone or email with any questions and when their tax forms have been filed electronically. The documents provided, or copies of documents if originals were needed for filing, will be then returned to participants.

Documents need for filing tax forms include:

  • name, email and phone number;
  • a copy of the taxpayer’s driver’s license (and spouse’s if applicable);
  • a copy of Social Security cards for the taxpayer, the spouse, and any dependents;
  • all Wage and earning statements, including, but not limited to:
    • Form W-2 (employees);
    • W-2G (gambling winnings);
    • 1099-R (retirement withdrawals);
    • 1099-Misc, 1099-NEC(miscellaneous income) and any related expenses;
    • 1099-G (unemployment income);
    • 1099-SA (Social Security statement);
    • 1099-B (sales of stock);
  • interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099-INT and 1099-DIV);
  • a copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available;
  • a voided check for proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit;
  • forms 1095-A, B and C, health coverage statements;
  • any information pertinent to deductions and credits the taxpayer may be eligible for, such as:
    • 1098-T for anyone on the tax return who attended a higher education institution during 2020;
    • Totals paid to daycare providers and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number such as their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number, name, and address;
  • for those who qualify for a property tax or rent rebate (age 65 and older, a widow/widower, disabled, and within certain income limits), copies of property tax receipts for any property taxes paid during the 2020 tax year;
  • list of charitable donations;
  • note if you received the first stimulus payment? (spring of 2020) $1,200/taxpayer-spouse and $500 for each qualifying child;                      
  • also note if you received the economic impact payment? (late 2020 or early 2021) $600/ taxpayer-spouse and each qualifying child.

Residents can include information above in an envelope and place it in the “drop-off box” in the University Police Department, 820 Mulberry Street, Mondays through Thursdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The VITA Program began on Monday, Feb. 8. The program will end when the capacity to process tax forms received has been met.

Residents with questions may call the University at 570-941-4045.

University students have participated in the VITA program for more than 30 years.

Wright Center for Community Health Offering Powerful Infusion Therapy to Help Covid-Positive Patients

Patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 have a new treatment option available that may help them avoid a stay in the hospital. The Wright Center for Community Health is the first in Scranton to offer an outpatient infusion clinic for administering Bamlanivimab, or BAM, a monoclonal antibody.

“These monoclonal antibodies are the unsung heroes when it comes to the fight against COVID-19,” said Jignesh Sheth, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for The Wright Center, who is leading the delivery and administration of the drug. “There’s strong evidence that it stops people from going to the hospital and that patients recover faster with fewer complications.”

BAM was first introduced at the Wright Center’s Scranton location two weeks ago with close to 40 COVID-positive patients treated thus far. None of those patients treated ended up in the hospital with one 61-year-old COVID-19 patient, described as “very ill,” coming in for treatment on a Friday and by that Sunday, was able to walk four miles.

The Wright Center is offering the treatment to people 65 and older within 10 days of a positive COVID-19 PCR test or onset of symptoms, and to younger patients, 12 and over, at higher risk. People hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 are not eligible to receive the treatment.

The monoclonal antibodies found in BAM, which was granted emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, are laboratory-created proteins that replicate the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful antigens, like COVID-19. The medicine targets the virus in a confirmed-positive patient and aims to prevent their body from having a damaging, or even life-threatening, inflammatory reaction.

Who is Eligible for the COVID-19 Infusion Clinic?

  • Must be 12 years of age and older
  • Must have tested COVID-19 positive via PCR nasal swab
  • Must be outpatient only; not available for hospitalized individuals
  • Must not require oxygen as a result of COVID-19 symptoms
  • Must be considered a patient with underlying medical conditions considered high-risk for developing complications, which includes those 65 and older

BAM is administered as a one-time infusion over one hour. Patients are asked to remain at The Wright Center’s infusion clinic for roughly one hour after treatment to monitor for any side effects. BAM is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized due to COVID-19, who require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19, or who require an increase in baseline oxygen flow rate due to COVID-19 in patients who are on chronic oxygen therapy due to underlying non-COVID-19-related conditions. For more information about COVID-19 Infusion Therapy or to schedule an appointment, visit TheWrightCenter.org or call 570-941-0630.

PennDOT Wins National TSMO Awards Focused on Improving Safety and Efficiency of Pennsylvania Roadways

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) was recently recognized with two 2020 Annual Transportation Systems Management & Operations (TSMO) awards presented by the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE).

“I am so proud of the department and the recognition that we’ve received,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “These awards showcase the dedication and passion of our Operations team to continually improve safety and congestion on our roadways.”

TSMO is a set of integrated strategies to optimize the performance of operations on existing infrastructure through implementation of multimodal, cross-jurisdictional systems, services, and projects designed to preserve capacity and improve security, safety, and reliability of a transportation system. Simply put, TSMO is focused on improving how roadways operate within the restraints of PennDOT’s existing roadway infrastructure.

PennDOT’s TSMO Performance Program and Traffic Operations Analytics (TOA) Tool won first place for Best TSMO Project of the year. The Performance Program brought together internal and external information allowing for more data-driven outcomes for congestion planning, incident response, and safety for all motorists. By housing the data on one TOA platform, team members quickly found that crowd sourced data from Waze and INRIX detected 86.7% of reportable crashes on major roads and created solutions for Operations personnel to increase the timeliness of incident detection. The Performance Program also created the first ever “congestion pie chart,” which allows Planning partners and PennDOT better understand the cause of congestion, thus more effectively tailor TSMO solutions to meet those needs. This data will lead to safer work zones, queue protection corridor deployments in the field, and timely incident detection to help reduce secondary crashes.

PennDOT’s TSMO Regional Operations Plans won first place for Project Selection and Prioritization. Regional Operations Plans were developed in cooperation with stakeholders including metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and rural planning organizations (RPOs), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, local emergency responders, transit agencies, universities, the local National Weather Service office, as well as PennDOT staff from across the state. Regional Operations Plans play an important role in regional Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) processes by helping to secure future capital funding for projects incorporating TSMO solution. The plans resulted in strong relationships with planning partners leading buy-in and funding support.

For more information on the PennDOT’s TSMO Efforts, visit https://www.penndot.gov/ProjectAndPrograms/operations/Pages/default.aspx.

The University of Scranton Names 28th President

Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J., provost and vice president for academic affairs at Le Moyne College, Syracuse, N.Y., will serve as the 28th president of The University of Scranton. James M. Slattery ’86, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, made the announcement to the University community today. Father Marina, who will take office in the summer, will succeed Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., ’H15, whose second term as president ends at the close of the 2020-2021 academic year. 

 “Father Marina brings to Scranton his unique experience as teacher, pastor, scholar and school administrator with more than 20 years of experience in higher education,” said Slattery. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank the members of the presidential search committee for their careful work in leading us through the search process to its successful conclusion.”

“Father Marina has a special dedication to Catholic and Jesuit higher education, and a pastoral approach to leadership that is grounded in his faith, in Ignatian spirituality and in a call for justice. He will further Scranton’s commitment to provide a transformative education, rooted in the liberal arts, and will guide our students to become ‘men and women for and with others,’” said Father Pilarz.

“I am humbled and honored to be chosen as The University of Scranton’s next president and to succeed Father Pilarz who has with his colleagues on campus fostered such a strong foundation on which to build Scranton’s future success,” said Father Marina. “From day one as a Jesuit I have heard time and again how seriously Scranton takes its mission and identity. What strikes me most is how students excel with the help of the authentic commitment of faculty and staff. As we take this journey together beginning this summer, the wonderful truth remains that anything and everything we do at Scranton should be and will be done for our students first. Our shared focus is precisely where it belongs, on our students and their success.”

Father Marina was selected following a national search, which began in August with the appointment of a broadly representative search committee that included trustees and representatives from the faculty, staff, student body, alumni and administration. University Trustee Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Ph.D. ‘93, G’93, H’19, served as chair of the search committee.

“On behalf of the search committee, I want to say how pleased and excited we are that Father Marina has agreed to lead our beloved University,” said Dr. Sprows Cummings. “I am so very grateful to my colleagues on the committee for their thoughtfulness and dedication throughout the search process. Father Marina has our full and enthusiastic support as he prepares to begin his service this summer.” 

Since 2016, Father Marina has served as provost and vice president for academic affairs and professor of education at Le Moyne College, where he oversees the Jesuit college’s three academic schools, honors program, library, campus life, student housing, conduct and Title IX compliance, diversity and inclusion programming, global education, student success and support services, disability services, and several other areas. Previously at Le Moyne, he held positions as associate provost, interim chair of the education department and special assistant to the president.

On Feb. 12, he will conclude just over two months serving as acting president at Le Moyne while Linda M. LeMura, Ph.D., president, is a Chancellor’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Syracuse University.

“I commend The University of Scranton for selecting Father Marina as its next president,” said Dr. LeMura. “Joe has been a vital part of Le Moyne’s success over the past five years. Among his accomplishments as provost are the continued growth of graduate programs, including the launch of our first doctoral program in Educational Leadership, his work on our strategic plan Sempre Avanti, and the establishment of the Quantitative Reasoning Center and the Writing Center. On a personal level, he has been a confidant, friend and wonderful colleague. I wish him nothing but the best in his new role.”

His prior experience includes serving as the dean of the School of Continuing Education at Providence College, assistant dean for the College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair State University, and assistant dean for Metropolitan College at St. John’s University. In addition, he taught religious studies at Providence College and mathematics at St. John’s University. He served as pastor of the Church of St. Francis Xavier in New York City and as associate pastor of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, also in New York City.

Father Marina is currently a trustee at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York, and Canisius High School in Buffalo, New York, where he is chair of the board’s governance committee. He previously served on the boards of St. Thomas Aquinas College, Regis University, Canisius College, Xavier High School and Le Moyne College.

His research interests include leadership and organizational change, and, in the area of theology, scripture and the question of non-belief. His presentations include “Inner-city Healthcare and Higher Education: A Partnership in Catholic Social Teaching,” “Graduate and Continuing Education in the Jesuit Tradition” and “Educational Delivery System Options: Programs to Attract and Retain and Educate Adult Students.”  

Father Marina holds a Doctor of Philosophy in administration and supervision from Fordham University, a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from Boston College and a Master of Science in Secondary Education from St. John’s University. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Sciences, with a theology minor, from St. John’s University. 

Father Marina entered the Society of Jesus in 2004 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2012.

Rev. Joseph M. O’Keefe, S.J., Provincial of the East Coast Province of the Society of Jesus remarked, “I will be delighted to mission Fr. Marina to Scranton. He will bring a wealth of experience as an academic administrator and a pastor. He has a tremendous ability to articulate the Jesuit education vision, and he has the requisite management skills to make that vision a reality.”

Founded in 1888, The University of Scranton is a Catholic and Jesuit institution located in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Northeast with an enrollment of nearly 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Scranton consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities in publications such as U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, The Princeton Review and others. Scranton is known for the outstanding success of its graduates. 

American Red Cross Annual Telethon Honoring Northeastern PA Heroes

Nominate heroes of Northeastern PA to be honored during the American Red Cross annual telethon on March 21st 2021.

Throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, everyday people perform extraordinary acts. The American Red Cross needs your help to identify and recognize our local heroes for their selflessness and courage. The Northeastern PA Heroes Celebration will honor the prior year’s local heroes for using their First Aid Training and/or other actions to save lives or make Northeastern Pennsylvania a better place to live and work. The Nomination Deadline is March 1, 2021.

Event Details:

  • Date: Sunday, March 21, 2021
  • Brought to you by: Blue Ridge Channel 13
  • Simulcast on: Electric City Television and SSPTV 

Geisinger Researchers Find AI Can Predict Death Risk

Researchers at Geisinger have found that a computer algorithm developed using echocardiogram videos of the heart can predict mortality within a year.

The algorithm—an example of what is known as machine learning, or artificial intelligence (AI)—outperformed other clinically used predictors, including pooled cohort equations and the Seattle Heart Failure score. The results of the study were published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

“We were excited to find that machine learning can leverage unstructured datasets such as medical images and videos to improve on a wide range of clinical prediction models,” said Chris Haggerty, Ph.D., co-senior author and assistant professor in the Department of Translational Data Science and Informatics at Geisinger.

Imaging is critical to treatment decisions in most medical specialties and has become one of the most data-rich components of the electronic health record (EHR). For example, a single ultrasound of the heart yields approximately 3,000 images, and cardiologists have limited time to interpret these images within the context of numerous other diagnostic data. This creates a substantial opportunity to leverage technology, such as machine learning, to manage and analyze this data and ultimately provide intelligent computer assistance to physicians.

For their study, the research team used specialized computational hardware to train the machine learning model on 812,278 echocardiogram videos collected from 34,362 Geisinger patients over the last ten years. The study compared the results of the model to cardiologists’ predictions based on multiple surveys. A subsequent survey showed that when assisted by the model, cardiologists’ prediction accuracy improved by 13 percent. Leveraging nearly 50 million images, this study represents one of the largest medical image datasets ever published.

“Our goal is to develop computer algorithms to improve patient care,” said Alvaro Ulloa Cerna, Ph.D., author and senior data scientist in the Department of Translational Data Science and Informatics at Geisinger. “In this case, we’re excited that our algorithm was able to help cardiologists improve their predictions about patients, since decisions about treatment and interventions are based on these types of clinical predictions.”

The research was supported in part by funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Geisinger Health Plan and Clinic.

Learn more at geisinger.org or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.