Geisinger Continuing Walk-In COVID-19 Vaccines this Week

Geisinger continues to offer walk-in COVID-19 vaccine events this week at its four vaccine centers.

Walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations will be available:

  • Thursday, June 10, at the Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital Vaccine Center, 116 Kerr Ave., Jersey Shore, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Friday, June 11, at the Geisinger CenterPoint Vaccine Center, 300 Keystone Ave., Pittston, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Friday, June 11, at the Geisinger Hughes Center Vaccine Center, 9 Stearns Lane, Danville, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, June 12, at the Geisinger Lewistown Hospital Vaccine Center, 400 Highland Ave. Ext., Lewistown, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Geisinger is offering the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at all locations, which is a two-dose vaccine administered 21 days apart.

Walk-in vaccines are available to anyone age 12 and over, but those under 18 years old must have a parent or legal guardian with them to receive their vaccine doses. The vaccine centers are staffed with pediatric teams, including pediatricians, to answer any questions and assist with the vaccinations.

Geisinger continues to offer COVID-19 vaccines by appointment at its four vaccine centers, and those can be made through myGeisinger or by calling 570-284-3657. To check on additional walk-in vaccine days and times, and for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit

The University of Scranton Nonprofit Leadership Certificate Program

The University of Scranton’s Kania School of Management has announced the launch of the fall 2021 Nonprofit Leadership Certificate Cohort; a comprehensive, practitioner-focused program that tackles the pressing leadership challenges of high-potential nonprofit leaders throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

To further understand the topics covered, here’s an outline of the program as well as a list of organizational goals/capstone projects that could be addressed during the program.  For more information or to apply by June 25th, 2020, click here.

Speaker Announces Special Election for the 113th District

Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) today ordered a special election to coincide with Pennsylvania’s municipal general election on Nov. 2, 2021, to fill the vacant seat in the 113th Legislative District in Lackawanna County.

The seat was vacated when Rep. Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna) was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate.

House rules state the speaker shall issue a writ for a special election to be held on a date which shall occur on or before the date of the first municipal election which occurs not less than 60 days after the issuance of the writ.

Candidates for the office will be selected by a process designated by their respective political parties, and the winner of the special election will take office after the results are confirmed.

Lackawanna College Receives $5,000 Grant to Support STEM-Focused Summer Camp

Lackawanna College has received a $5,000 Business Education Partnership (BEP) grant from the Lackawanna County Workforce Development Board (WDB) to support the FIRST LEGO League: Robot Game Camp, a STEM-focused, hands-on summer camp for Scranton School District students in grades six through nine.

Run by the Continuing Education department, the program will run Aug. 2 – August 6, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Students will work in teams and engage in a friendly competition to build and program LEGO robots to accomplish tasks and meet challenges. These unique challenge missions will provide students with hands-on experiences that relate to a variety of STEM occupations, such as engineering, coding and information technology, architecture, manufacturing and logistics, the trades, and technician positions.

“Lackawanna College supports the community through youth programming and activities that encourage growth and active learning,” said Bridget Duggan, Lackawanna College Youth Program Coordinator. “Through this grant, we are able to provide accessible opportunities to Scranton School District students that get them excited about the STEM field. Partnerships like this are extremely valuable to everyone involved.”

The college has opened registration to Scranton School District students for the FIRST LEGO League: Robot Game Camp. The program will be available free of charge with 15 spots available.

This project is funded, in part, under an Agreement with money allocated by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, through the Lackawanna County WDB, and its Fiscal Agent, Lackawanna County.

For more information and to register your child for the FIRST LEGO League: Robot Game Camp at Lackawanna College, call Bridget Duggan at (570) 961-7883 or email

Marywood University’s Graduate Art Therapy Program Earns Accreditation

Marywood University’s graduate art therapy program was recently notified that it is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) upon the recommendation of the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education (ACATE).

Marywood University’s graduate art therapy program is founded in artistic, ethical, and spiritual values within a tradition of service. The graduate art therapy program at Marywood provides a supportive framework for the enhancement of students’ capacity to utilize the therapeutic qualities of art making with a wide variety of populations.

The master of arts degree in art therapy at Marywood University trains professionals in the mental health field to use art as a catalyst for healing and self-actualization. Art therapy aids human development through self-discovery, self-awareness, and personal growth. Marywood’s graduate art therapy program exposes students to a variety of theories and approaches related to the practice of art therapy and the field of psychology.

The CAAHEP is the largest programmatic accreditor of the health sciences professions. In collaboration with its Committees on Accreditation, CAAHEP reviews and accredits more than 2,100 individual education programs in over 32 health science occupations. CAAHEP-accredited programs are assessed on an ongoing basis to ensure that they meet the standards and guidelines of each profession.

For additional information about Marywood University’s graduate art therapy program, please visit, or call the Office of Admissions, at (570) 348-6234. For additional information about the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, please visit

North Main Projects Virtual Plans Displays and Public Meeting

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), announces Online Plans Displays and a Virtual Public Meeting for the North Main Avenue Bridge Replacement Project over Leggetts Creek and the Parker Street Bridge Replacement Project over the Lackawanna River in the City of Scranton, Lackawanna County.

In accordance with Governor Wolf’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the comment period and public meeting will be held online only. The comment period will be open from June 3rd to July 3rd, 2021.

The virtual plans display for each bridge project includes digital picture boards and an online comment form. The plans displays can be accessed by visiting the PennDOT District 4 Website:, clicking on Public Meetings under District Links, choosing the tile for Lackawanna County and then selecting the tile for North Main Avenue Bridge or Parker Street Bridge. The purpose of the plans displays is to introduce the projects and receive public input regarding any questions or concerns with the projects. It is also an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the projects’ potential effects upon Cultural Resources pursuant to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s 36 CFR Part 800 regulations implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

A public meeting for the two bridge projects will be held on June 17th, 2021 virtually via Microsoft Teams. The public meeting will begin at 6:00 PM and registration is required. To register, contact Jessica Ruddy, Community Relations Coordinator at or at 570.963.4044. Persons requesting language or hearing assistance may contact Jessica Ruddy at the contact information provided above. Requests should be made at least five business days prior to the public meeting. 

Those unable to access the project information online may give feedback by contacting PennDOT Project Manager Summer Koziel, at or 570.963.4048.

Geisinger Runner-Up in National AI Health Outcomes Challenge

Geisinger has been named runner-up out of more than 300 entries in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge.

Geisinger partnered with Medial EarlySign, a leader in machine learning-based solutions to aid in early detection and prevention of high-burden diseases, to use artificial intelligence (AI) to predict unplanned hospital admissions, readmissions occurring soon after hospital discharge, healthcare-associated complications, and mortality. The two entities collaborated to develop models that predict the risk of these outcomes using Medicare administrative claims data and created novel visualizations to explain the results in a clinician-friendly manner, a key component of AI implementation.

“We are honored to be recognized as a national leader in using artificial intelligence to improve health outcomes,” said David Vawdrey, Geisinger’s chief data informatics officer. “The opportunity to participate in the CMS competition has significantly broadened our capabilities to design and implement predictive models, which will ultimately help prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and complications and reduce healthcare costs.” 

Geisinger and EarlySign’s shared vision of innovation and their collective focus on patient-centered care garnered recognition by CMS for “consistent strong performance across all competition elements while generating the best prediction accuracy results.” Their ability to successfully communicate predictions to clinicians, known as AI explainability, was a key factor in their selection as runner-up.

“This achievement demonstrates the synergistic relationship Geisinger and EarlySign have in the journey to provide better care for patients,” said Ori Geva, co-founder and chief executive officer of Medial EarlySign. “This recognition is another validation that successful clinical AI solutions require deep understanding of clinical workflow, and expertise in clinical machine learning and clinical data.”

The CMS AI Health Outcomes Challenge launched in 2019 with more than 300 entities proposing AI solutions for predicting patient health outcomes. Submissions aimed to forecast a variety of outcomes, including unplanned admissions related to heart failure, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and various other high-risk conditions; and adverse events such as hospital-acquired infections, sepsis, and respiratory failure.

Geisinger was chosen as one of seven finalists in November 2020. To select the winner and runner-up, CMS conducted a rigorous evaluation process, supported by a team of AI scientists. Clinicians from the American Academy of Family Physicians, a CMS partner in the AI Challenge, reviewed and scored the models’ explainability. Submissions were reviewed and winners selected by a panel of CMS senior leadership. For more information on Geisinger’s work with artificial intelligence and machine learning, visit

How to Attract and Retain Good Workers

At a time when many business owners are having trouble filling job openings, more and more employers are realizing that offering better benefit packages might greatly assist their recruiting efforts. 

Studies have supported this approach over the years.  For example, a Ranstad US survey found that 66 percent of workers say that the biggest determining factor in choosing a job is the prospective employer’s benefit package.

Finding the Best Plans

But with so many employee benefit plans available, how can companies be confident that they have checked out all the options they can afford?

That’s where insurance brokerage firms come in.

“Insurance brokers help business owners get the biggest bang for their buck where benefits are concerned,” said Jerry Calistri, President and CEO of the insurance brokerage firm Swift Kennedy & Associates. 

“Agencies like ours shop around and compare the employee benefit plans offered by all the major insurance carriers in the region, and then we present employers with their best options,” he said.

Greener Pastures

While good benefit packages are vital in attracting the best workers, it is also critical for employees to recognize the value of their benefits after they have been hired, so that they are not tempted to join the many workers who have left jobs when they have found better benefits or perks elsewhere.

But employees need to understand their benefits in order to appreciate them.  So, how can employers help reduce employee confusion over benefit packages?

One very effective way for a business owner to help employees comprehend their benefits is to upgrade the company’s benefit administration by replacing its paper-based benefit system with a digital one.

Enhanced Benefit Experience

Not only do digital benefit platforms allow employees to have a clearer understanding of their choices, but they also help them to make better informed enrollment decisions by providing them with online support aids like plan comparison tools, cost calculators, provider directories, and videos, as well as online benefit summaries. 

In addition, these systems can speed up the benefit enrollment process, since digital platforms reduce the number of errors that are so common with manual applications.  As a result, employees often receive their insurance identification cards and other information more quickly, which most workers appreciate.

Furthermore, digital benefit administration enables employees to access their benefit information 24/7 year-round, a feature that is particularly valued by millennials and Gen Z employees.

Other Advantages

Digital benefit systems also offer employers tools that help with absence management, federal regulatory compliance, tax forms, bills, payroll integration, and other important aspects of human resources.  This allows a company’s HR staff to spend more time on employee training, professional development and engagement – all of which are popular with employees.

In addition, these systems allow employers to access claims data, which enables them to select the most appropriate benefit plans for their workers. “The combination of good benefit packages and digital systems that enhance employee benefit experiences not only helps business owners attract and keep the best workers, but it also enables them to concentrate less on recruitment and retention and more on what they do best – running their companies!” said Calistri.

NEPA Gives Raises Over $1.24 Million in 24 Hours

The Scranton Area Community Foundation is proud to announce that on Friday, June 4, 2021—in just 24 hours—218 local nonprofit organizations worked together to collectively raise a total of $1,246,121 for NEPA Gives, surpassing its $1 million dollar goal.

NEPA Gives was hosted by the Scranton Area Community Foundation, in partnership with The Luzerne Foundation, Greater Pike Community Foundation, Wayne County Community Foundation, Carbon County Community Foundation, The Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Nonprofit & Community Assistance Center (NCAC), and other community sponsors to raise awareness about the critical work nonprofit organizations carry out across the region and to help charitable organizations raise much-needed funds, especially during these challenging times.

“In this second year of NEPA Gives, we are overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of the people of the Northeastern Pennsylvania region,” stated Laura Ducceschi, President and CEO of the Scranton Area Community Foundation. “We believe that especially now, during these challenging post-pandemic recovery times, it was important to provide an opportunity for nonprofits to raise much-needed funds to support their efforts, and we are grateful that the generous people in Northeastern Pennsylvania responded so well.”

NEPA Gives, which accepted donations online at on Friday, made history as the single largest day of philanthropy in Northeastern Pennsylvania for the second year in a row. A handful of checks and offline donations are still coming in, so the total will likely increase in the coming days ahead. Over 5,766 donors generously supported NEPA Gives. NEPA Gives was also generously supported by numerous sponsors including Moses Taylor Foundation, DiscoverNEPA, Cumulus Media, Shamrock Communications, Hawk Family Foundation, Schwartz Mack Foundation, Women in Philanthropy, the NEPA Animal Welfare Collaborative, the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, and many others.

Adding to the momentum, over $450,000 in prizes and matching incentives were awarded to participating nonprofits for notable achievements, all sponsored by generous businesses, foundations, and donors across the region.

218 nonprofit organizations from across eight counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania participated in the 24-hour fundraising event including The Diocese of Scranton, Equines For Freedom, NeighborWorks Northeastern PA, Women’s Resource Center, Countryside Conservancy, St. Joseph’s Center, Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science, and Art, and United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

To celebrate the historical and monumental giving day, Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti made an official proclamation declaring June 4, 2021, as NEPA Gives Day.

During the day on Friday, a small handful of host sponsors and community guests gathered at the Hilton Scranton Hotel & Conference Center to broadcast a live-streamed event with updates and excitement which aired on throughout the day. The Scranton Area Community Foundation partnered with Scranton-based team Posture Interactive to host the live broadcast.

This was the second year for NEPA Gives. Last year, NEPA Gives raised over half a million dollars for 167 nonprofit organizations.

To learn more about #NEPAGives, visit or contact Brittany Pagnotti, Communications Manager of the Scranton Area Community Foundation at 570-347-6203.

Marywood University Welcomes the Catholic Women’s Conference

Marywood University will host the Catholic Women’s Conference on the University’s campus on Saturday, June 19, 2021, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The cost of the conference is $40 for in-person attendance or $20 for virtual attendance. To register, please visit

The Catholic Women’s Conference titled; “Refresh your Faith with Merciful Love” will feature various speakers including:

  • Father Chris Alar, MIC, reveals the beauty and powerful message of Divine Mercy. He wrote and produced the popular “Divine Mercy” 101 and “Explaining the Faith” DVD series. Father Alar explains the “merciful love” that comes from the Divine Mercy feast, image, novena, chaplet, and hour of mercy, and how to incorporate them into your spiritual life.
  • Theresa Bonopartis will bring attendees on her personal healing journey through Divine Mercy. Her reflections will help attendees through issues of their own healing journey.
  • Sister Virginia Joy will illuminate how much God loves you with His Merciful Love. She will help attendees to look deeper and re-encounter their own goodness in the ups and downs of life.
  • Music finale with Taylor Tripodi. Taylor grew up in a small suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She is the oldest of nine children, who taught her that you have to speak up in order for your voice to be heard. Taylor uses her voice to bring God glory and praise, inspiring all who hear her to praise Him with her.
  • Celebrant for the conference is The Most Reverend Bishop Joseph Bambera, D.D., J.C.L. Bishop Bambera will celebrate the Mass for the Refresh Your Faith Catholic Conference for Women.
  • Jeannine Lesante, vice president of marketing for SamSon Productions/SSPTV, will serve as the Hostess for the Catholic Women’s Conference. Ms. Lesante teaches Public Speaking at King’s College, from which she also graduated in 1997. Jeannine’s nonprofit, “Making A Difference,” has raised thousands of dollars for worthy events in NEPA.

For additional information about the Women’s Catholic Conference or its featured speakers, please visit