Researchers Find AI Can Predict New Atrial Fibrillation, Stroke Risk

A team of scientists from Geisinger and Tempus have found that artificial intelligence can predict risk of new atrial fibrillation (AF) and AF-related stroke.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and is associated with numerous health risks, including stroke and death. The study, published in Circulation, used electrical signals from the heart—measured from a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG)—to identify patients who are likely to develop AF, including those at risk for AF-related stroke.

“Each year, over 300 million ECGs are performed in the U.S. to identify cardiac abnormalities within an episode of care. However, these tests cannot generally detect future potential for negative events like atrial fibrillation or stroke,” said Joel Dudley, chief scientific officer at Tempus. “This critical work stems from our major investments in cardiology to generate algorithms that make existing cardiology tests, such as ECGs, smarter and capable of predicting future clinical events. Our goal is to enable clinicians to act earlier in the course of disease.”

To develop their model, the team of data scientists and medical researchers used 1.6 million ECGs from 430,000 patients over 35 years of patient care at Geisinger. These data were used to train a deep neural network—a specialized class of artificial intelligence—to predict, among patients without a previous history of AF, who would develop AF within 12 months. The neural network performance exceeded that of current clinical models for predicting AF risk. Furthermore, 62% of patients without known AF who experienced an AF-related stroke within three years were identified as high risk by the model before the stroke occurred.

“Not only can we now predict who is at risk of developing atrial fibrillation, but this work shows that the high risk prediction precedes many AF-related strokes,” said Brandon Fornwalt, M.D., Ph.D., co-senior author and chair of Geisinger’s Department of Translational Data Science and Informatics. “With that kind of information, we can change the way these patients are screened and treated, potentially preventing such severe outcomes. This is huge for patients.”

Geisinger and Tempus continue to work together to advance precision medicine using practical applications of artificial intelligence. Funding for this project was provided by Geisinger Clinic and Tempus.

Geisinger has an exciting research environment with more than 50 full-time research faculty and more than 30 clinician scientists. Areas of expertise include precision health, genomics, informatics, data science, implementation science, outcomes research, health services research, bioethics and clinical trials.

Go Globe Trotting at Wally Wine Fest

It may not be possible to travel far right now, but during Wally Wine Fest you can take your taste buds on a tantalizing journey across the globe. The three-day event in Hawley, April 9-11, features a vast array of domestic and international brands from wine regions around the world. Guest Chef Nok Suntaranon will bring A Taste of Thailand to The Settlers Inn on April 9 for a dinner paired with J. Lohr wines to kick off Wally Wine Fest weekend.

Chef Nok has garnered numerous accolades since arriving on the Philadelphia restaurant scene. She opened Kalaya Authentic Thai Kitchen in 2019, which became an overnight sensation. James Beard named Kalaya a finalist for its Best New Restaurant 2020 award and Esquire placed the eatery at number one on its list of the 23 Best New Restaurants in America. The traditional dishes of Chef Nok’s homeland will be paired with selections from J. Lohr Vineyards. Founder Jerry Lohr was a pioneer in establishing California’s Central Coast as a world-class wine growing region. The award-winning winery is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Wally Wine Fest platinum ticket holders enjoy entry to the J. Lohr Thai Wine Dinner as well as one tasting session during the weekend.

Tickets may be purchased for one of three seated wine tasting sessions offered on both Saturday and Sunday at The Waterfront at Silver Birches. During the two-hour sessions, attendees will enjoy four small plate tasting courses accompanied by three wine samples per tasting. Ticket holders will select their top three sampling choices from eight different wines for each course. Settlers Hospitality Sommelier, Claude Briere, has personally chosen the featured wines, which include domestic and international labels. Tastings are scheduled from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 2-4 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. each day. Tables may be reserved for groups from two to 10 people. A Champagne Brunch at The Settlers Inn on Saturday and Sunday  from 11 am. To 2:30 p.m. adds a bit of sparkle to the festival. Visitors may savor a prix fixe brunch menu, live music and a tasting flight of three French champagnes including Veuve Clicquot. Wine seminars all weekend let attendees brush up on a classic pairing- wine and cheese. The 90 Point Wine and Cheese Seminar will feature pours rated 90 or better by Wine Spectator along with a selection of imported cheeses. Sommelier Luciana Nunez will lead the seminars, which are scheduled for Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. The cost is $50 per person.

“Each year we really try to raise the bar and challenge ourselves to bring a new dynamic to Wally Wine Fest,” explains Justin Genzlinger, CEO/Owner, Settlers Hospitality. “It’s the caliber of wine and variety of experiences that make this the premier wine festival in the Pocono Mountains. The adjustments we’ve made for social distancing really enhance the enjoyment of the tastings and it’s accompanied by truly wonderful cuisine.”

Bottles of every wine featured will be available for sale. Prices range from $10-$100. Fine food, gift items and decor fit for wine lovers overflow at The Marketplace. Visitors may shop offerings from places such as Art on the Edge, which features home/wine décor. The Silent Auction benefits Lake Wallenpaupack’s fireworks display and features overnight stays at some of the area’s finest accommodations plus gift cards to local restaurants and businesses. Golf and spa packages, as well as boat and paddle board rentals, are also up for grabs. Live entertainment rounds out the weekend-long festivities. 

Everyone who attends the festival at Silver Birches receives a commemorative wine glass. General admission is $50 per person. Designated drivers may attend for $25. A $195 platinum ticket includes the Taste of Thailand Dinner at The Settlers Inn on April 9. For $125, visitors may attend the Taste of Thailand Dinner only. Visit to purchase tickets. Special thanks to Champagne Level event sponsors Silver Birches Resort, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, E. & J. Gallo Winery and Bold Gold Media Group, as well as Cabernet Level sponsors, AM Skier Insurance and BMW. Organizers also acknowledge the participation of Sauvignon Blanc Level sponsor Adams Outdoor, Lewith and Freeman Real Estate and Guaranteed Rate. Rose Level sponsors include Honesdale National Bank, The Dime Bank, Wayne Bank, Chant Realtors, Lighthouse Harbor Marina, Lake Region IGA and Dakan Construction. Settlers Hospitality would also like to thank local sponsors Clemleddy Construction and Moka Origins.

Marywood University’s School of Social Work to Hold Its Spring 2021 Colloquium Virtually

Marywood University’s School of Social Work will hold its Spring 2021 virtual Colloquium titled, “The Culturally ‘Woke’ Social Worker: Addressing Historical and Contemporary Racial Inequities,” on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, from 8:45 a.m. – Noon. This virtual event is free and open to the public. Because space is limited, participants must register in order to attend, at

This educational gift to the community will help us stay connected and enable us to work together to make a difference. It is a social worker’s role to address racial justice in proactive practice—to become ‘woke’ to cultural differences and systems of racial oppression. As we all continue to struggle with the uncertainty of a global pandemic, people have taken to the streets and boardrooms to address inequities and their devastating effects. For Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, stories about the impact on health, wealth, and relationships of intergenerational traumatic events in the form of news or social media posts are more than stories—they are examples of experiences enduring trauma, historically and currently, which have led to health and other social disparities.

Marywood University’s School of Social Work’s Spring 2021 Colloquium will bravely engage in conversations about work that helps to foster authentic engagement with social work staff, community providers, clients and their families. Participants will learn which facilitation tools to use when faced with a hot button issue, or other challenging situations, and how to bravely lead conversations about race with presence, grace, and intention.

By attending this workshop, participants will be able to define intergenerational trauma and complex trauma; explain three trauma-informed, resilience-oriented strategies to address the impact on individuals and communities; explore culture, unconscious bias, micro aggressions, racism, privilege, marginalization, color blindness, and intersectionality; determine ways that cultural differences impact professional relationships; and obtain a culturally relevant skill set with at least two tools to work towards micro and macro level change.

Presented by Lia Richards-Palmiter, Ph.D., director of the Office of Diversity Efforts at Marywood University, this session will provide a culturally competent understanding of trauma-informed, resilience-oriented strategies that inequities have had on those we support. This session will also address the impact at the individual and community level to build a future that promotes healing and resilience.

This program is approved for three (3) continuing education hours for social workers applicable toward New York and Pennsylvania LSW licensure renewal. To register, please visit For additional questions, please contact Jill Schroth, director of Professional Continuing Education at Marywood University, at, or call (570) 340-6061.

Scranton Counseling Center Executive Announces Retirement Plans

For over two decades as President and CEO, Edward F. Heffron, Ed.D. has overseen the operations of the Scranton Counseling Center, the largest, fully integrated, comprehensive behavioral healthcare center in northeastern Pennsylvania. Dr. Heffron has announced his retirement from Scranton Counseling Center effective March 31st this year.

In addition to managing Scranton Counseling Center since 1999, Dr. Heffron has also managed a specialized 54-bed personal care home and a large, freestanding outpatient psychiatric private practice, both under the umbrella of the Counseling Center. Those responsibilities encompass a workforce of over 250 employees and generate almost $18 million in annual revenue.

The Center is completing a $15 million state-of-the-art adaptive reuse and renovation of a historically significant 3-building complex in South Scranton that will become the new Scranton Counseling Center campus for behavioral health services in late March. The new headquarters will allow all the Center’s programs and services to be fully integrated into the new facility with sufficient space for future growth. The campus will provide easy access on a bus route, on-site parking for employees, consumers and their families, off-street passenger drop-off and pickup, and a new facility thoughtfully and specifically designed to best meet the needs of both consumers and staff.

“The new headquarters for Scranton Counseling Center has been a 5-year project of love,” Dr. Heffron explained. “Once we get the new campus open and start providing services, we will combine behavioral health, physical health and a pharmacy at one convenient location for our clients. Our staff will have the latest and most modern workplace, and our consumers will benefit from the bright, modern layout and uplifting environment.”

Dr. Heffron added, “This headquarters project has been an additional focus of our board and management team for quite some time. Completing it is the capstone event of my career.”

In addition to those significant achievements during Dr. Heffron’s 21-year leadership of Scranton Counseling Center, he has also

  • Formed The Assertive Community Treatment Team operational 24/7 serving individuals with serious and persistent metal illness who are high users of mental health services
  • Established a licensed Substance Use Disorder Program serving adolescents and adults
  • Launched an Intercept Model/Early Diversion Program to divert non-serious criminal offenders with mental health and/or substance use disorder issues to treatment, rather than incarceration
  • Established state certified, Peer and Recovery Specialist Services to engage individuals in recovery from mental illness in the community, and assist consumers experiencing substance use disorder issues 24/7 through the Geisinger CMC ER
  • Expanded 24-hour crisis emergency services to Susquehanna County and northern Lackawanna County
  • Initiated innovative school-based and community behavioral health services to 21 school buildings in five school districts
  • Became the first regional behavioral health provider to integrate physical health with behavioral health services
  • Implemented the only Decision Support Center in Lackawanna County to enable individuals to attain a greater role in their treatment and medication regime in collaboration with their therapist and medication prescriber

An Executive Search Committee will commence a review of internal candidates and external applicants for the President/CEO position. During the transition, Sal Santoli, MS, a long-term manager with over four decades of service with the Center, will oversee the SCC’s operations as Interim CEO as of April 1st. He will coordinate the efforts of the current Center management team of Wendy Reed, LCSW, COO, and Jeff Novak, MBA, the CFO.

Scranton Counseling Center is a community based, private nonprofit behavioral health provider serving children, adolescents, adults and families with mental health and substance use disorder issues in Lackawanna, Susquehanna and surrounding counties.

The Center is northeast Pennsylvania’s largest integrated provider with over seven decades of quality accessible services for those in need.

Swift Kennedy Volunteers Help Distribute Food

Employees of Swift Kennedy’s Scranton branch volunteered to assist with a food distribution program sponsored by the Scranton-based Keystone Mission at its Wilkes-Barre office on January 28.  Over 250 people received bags of food and clothing at this event.  The Swift Kennedy volunteers included William Fleming, Sr., Camille Holmes, and Jessica Smitchel.

Cooper’s Seafood House Raises Funds for Women’s Resource Center

Cooper’s Seafood House presented a check for $7,645 to the Women’s Resource Center. The monies were raised from a lobster bisque soup sale held by Cooper’s in memory of Jeanne Marie McGowan. Jeanne was a Scranton native with a tremendous amount of empathy for those in need, working as an advocate to give them a voice. All the proceeds will go towards supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence in our community.

Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week – Preparing tomorrow’s workforce!

For years we’ve supported a program that arms high school students with the tools to be our next great employees – Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW). PFEW brings together students and businesspeople for a powerful hands-on learning experience where students are immersed in the exciting world of modern business and free enterprise. The goal is to properly prepare our young people for the demands of the 21st century workforce.

At PFEW, students make the same decisions real executives make as they run a simulated manufacturing company. Each team is paired with a volunteer business mentor who imparts invaluable real-world perspective as they explore all facets of business operations and develop the skills that today’s employers seek. Teams are responsible for two judged presentations where they must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of all facets of business operations. The week is highlighted by Speakers delivering inspiring messages directed at the students’ personal and professional development. An ethics case study, other business-related activities and the college experience round out this exciting week. Since 1979, more than 46,000 young Pennsylvanians and countless PA companies have benefitted from this unique program.

There’s no more urgent work than preparing our young people for careers in our community, but why PFEW? In the words of 2019 PFEW graduate Brina Cartagenova: “This week at PFEW will resonate with me for years to come, for it is an eye-opening experience for Pennsylvania youth. Arriving as wide-eyed, eager children and leaving as empowered, confident leaders, PFEW students go through an academic cultivation like no other.” Brina describes PFEW perfectly – cultivating our next great generation of empowered, confident leaders. No other model educates students like PFEW, and that’s why we proudly support it.

Every student attends PFEW on a fully tax-deductible $625 sponsorship donated by a business, foundation, organization or individual, but real value of PFEW is immeasurable. I encourage you to provide these vital sponsorships for our local students and, if possible, volunteers for the sessions. FFEE is an approved Educational Improvement Organization through the PA Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, and all programs are eligible to receive EITC funding.

FFEE offers two additional programs that prepare students for success and provide incredible value to our young people and our business community. The Stock Market GameTM (SMG) teaches students in grades 4-12 about investing and financial literacy, and the Speaker Series helps students explore careers and fulfill state mandated Career, Education and Work (CEW) standards. All Foundation programs have one goal in mind – preparing our young people for successful careers in Pennsylvania. If you would like to learn more about PFEW or their other educational offerings, please visit the Foundation’s website,, or contact Scott Lee, vice president of marketing & development for the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education at (814) 833-9576 ext. 8, or

Lackawanna College Awarded $300K Grant to Expand NEPA Healthcare Workforce

Lackawanna College has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the NEPA Healthcare Foundation to help grow and retain northeastern Pennsylvania’s healthcare workforce through new and existing health sciences programs.

“This regional initiative deepens our relationships with NEPA health facilities, with a focus on providing an awareness of healthcare career opportunities and ensuring that Lackawanna College Health Sciences students continue to receive the high-quality education and licensure required to enter the field,” said Kelly Musti, Lackawanna College Dean of Health Sciences. “This grant will enable us to reach students at the beginning of their higher education journey, enhance our existing programs and establish additional programs in the areas that we serve.”

Lackawanna College will use the funding to launch the Healthcare Career Exploration Partnership in collaboration with local school districts, which will introduce students at the middle and high school levels to career opportunities in multiple healthcare disciplines. The main goal of this program will be to encourage qualified students to enroll into health sciences programs immediately after high school, ultimately increasing and diversifying the number of healthcare professionals trained and retained in NEPA.

Funds will also be used to support Lackawanna College’s existing health sciences programs and help establish Certified Clinical Medical Assistant programs at two of its locations.

“Through the Careers in Care initiative, the NEPA Health Care Foundation strives to make an impact to address the strains that the regional healthcare workforce is facing,” said James Clemente, NEPA Health Care Foundation Board Chair. “Introducing various healthcare fields to students at a younger age will ultimately help to increase the number of trained healthcare professionals in NEPA.”