Wright Center Resident Physician Aids Ukrainian Refugees

Bothered by daily reports of more bombing and bloodshed in Ukraine, 29-year-old resident physician Dr. Chaitanya Rojulpote of The Wright Center did more than simply feel sorrow for the people caught in the war’s path.

He did what his heart demanded.

He bought a plane ticket and made a solo trip to Europe, devoting one week of his vacation time to helping refugees displaced by the brutal Russian invasion.

Rojulpote, a second-year internal medicine resident at The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education in Northeast Pennsylvania, teamed with a non-governmental medical relief organization that is dedicated to helping people in distress.

He worked in its first aid field unit, tending to individuals as they fled danger and finally crossed the border from chaotic Ukraine into the relative safety of Poland. The refugees typically arrive there in waves, he says. They cross by foot through the guarded gate at all hours of the day and night. They are hungry, cold, frightened, sometimes dehydrated, usually exhausted and always uncertain. Most are women and children.

“What you’re giving these people more than anything else – more than medical help, more than food, more than water – is hope,” says Rojulpote. “You’re giving them hope that, after finally reaching this destination, it’s going to get better.” 

More than 12 million Ukrainians have left their homes since Russian troops invaded the nation on Feb. 24, creating what is considered one of the fastest-growing displacement and humanitarian crises in history. An estimated 6.5 million people had been uprooted but remained within the country as of early May. More than 5.7 million Ukrainians had escaped to neighboring nations, with Poland receiving the largest influx: 3.1 million individuals – and counting, according to United Nations’ estimates.

News of the situation – combined with horrific images of civilians killed and injured – is compelling millions of people around the globe to feel a personal responsibility for the victims, as reflected in the ongoing outpouring of financial donations and material goods. Only a fraction of observers, however, will go to the scene as Rojulpote did in mid-April, and those who consider making the trip are respectfully asked to follow through only if they have the needed skills.

Rojulpote knew that health care workers were in high demand by aid agencies at the Ukrainian border. Before joining the effort, however, he brushed up on techniques he hadn’t used since his days in medical school in India, including how to close wounds. He visited the emergency department of Commonwealth Health Regional Hospital of Scranton, where two physicians graciously gave him refreshers on properly placing an intravenous line and on suturing. (He practiced by putting stitches in a Styrofoam cup.) He also watched YouTube videos about applying simple field dressings.

Rojulpote’s skills would be tested during his brief stint at the border. He practiced on-the-fly medicine, offering the best care he could in the limited time that patients would stay. Most of the travelers were in a hurry to move on within hours, even minutes. In one case, he could only plead with, and then dispense blood pressure-lowering medication, to a man whose reading was dangerously high. The man took the pills but immediately continued on his journey, to connect with his waiting wife, when he rightly should have gone straight to a hospital. 

Several of the refugees whom Rojulpote encountered only briefly will remain with him in spirit for the rest of his life. He was summoned one night, for instance, to treat Nina, an 86-year-old grandmother who had traveled for two days straight before entering the camp; she was on the verge of collapse. From her, the young physician learned the power of resilience.

Similarly, a man known as Sasha, who each day waits and waits at the border gate, greeting every arriving traveler and hoping to get news about his missing family, demonstrates the enduring power of love – and kindness. 

Rojulpote decided to publicly share these and other stories of his experiences in Medyka, Poland – where he volunteered inside a woodstove-heated tent that serves around the clock as both a sort of urgent care clinic and a healer of souls – as a way of motivating others to lend aid when hearing about the Ukrainians’ plight or any other calamity.

“I want people to ask themselves what they can do to help,” he says. “And then the next question is, ‘OK, how do I go about doing that?’ Not everyone can get on a plane and go, but, whatever gesture – whether it’s donating or volunteering locally to fundraise for a cause – is going to help.

“If you have the intention to do good,” he adds, “I think you should just act on it.”

The physician is quick to point out his journey was supported by many others, including members of his Wright Center family. Three fellow resident physicians – Drs. Kashyap Kela, Princy Shaw and Richard Bronnenkant – adjusted their plans to provide clinical coverage in his absence. “They couldn’t come with me,” he says, “but they helped me to make the trip.”

Dr. Douglas Klamp, associate program director of The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education’s Internal Medicine Residency, initially thought the younger physician’s planned international mission might get derailed for any number of practical reasons. Yet Klamp eagerly chipped in medical supplies, including surgical instruments and orthopedic support devices, then marveled as the plan was executed. 

“Chaitanya stuck with the idea and made it happen,” says Klamp. “It was an extraordinary and meaningful act that elevated all of us, especially when he returned and shared his experience with us during a presentation at our teaching conference.”

Rojulpote acknowledges that the same impulses that led him to Ukraine probably brought him to The Wright Center, where an emphasis is placed on delivering health care to the underserved and “helping those most in need.” “I think I was drawn to this place at some level because of its mission to serve,” says Rojulpote. “With all the noise and prestige that can come from going to bigger institutions, you can lose sight of why you chose a career in medicine.”

Altruism runs in family

Rojulpote was born in India but spent most of his school-age years in the United States. The oldest of three children, he was raised primarily in the King of Prussia area.

His mother teaches classical Indian dance, often donating proceeds from the classes to support children and various causes in India. His father, a software architect, has an altruistic streak that sometimes surprises even the family; he donated a kidney to a stranger, then politely declined to meet with the recipient after the successful surgery. The gift, it seemed, was more important than any accolade.

From Rojulpote’s vantage point in Scranton earlier this year, he assumed the conflict in Ukraine would be short-lived. After all, who would believe conventional warfare could rage in Europe in the 21st century? And who would think in this day and age that people on the continent, and across the globe, could face a nuclear nightmare? To him, it all seemed unimaginable.

Yet the truth of the unfolding tragedy seemed to worsen with each breaking news story. Europe is coping with its largest refugee crisis in more than half a century. Russian shelling and fighting have reportedly damaged more than 40 hospitals and clinics in Ukraine, including rehabilitation homes, maternity hospitals and children’s hospitals.

Rojulpote first told a trusted friend of his intent to volunteer overseas. “There was silence on the phone, and finally he asked me why,” he recalls. “I said, ‘I don’t have a valid reason for you, I just feel like I have to go.’”

Then he told his father, whose response was swifter and more direct. “Yes, do it,” the man encouraged.

A day before Rojulpote’s scheduled departure, however, he grew apprehensive. Should I even be doing this, he wondered. Then, as he passed a memorial plaque in the halls of Regional Hospital of Scranton, he noticed its inscription included the lines of a poem – a poem to which he had first been introduced in the eighth grade.

I shall pass through this world but once.

Any good therefore that I can do

or any kindness that I can show to any human being

let me do it now.

He boarded a plane in Philadelphia. A sign hanging in one airport concourse read, “United We Stand with Ukraine.” Two flights, three car rides and a frustrating number of vehicle roundabouts later, Rojulpote made it to Medyka, in southeastern Poland.

Camp offers meals, mercy

For six consecutive days beginning on April 18, he worked among kindred souls, including a mix of aid workers and volunteers, tending to frightened families as they entered the soccer field-sized refugee camp.

The newcomers’ immediate needs for food and medical care are met by agencies such as UNICEF, Humanity First and World Central Kitchen, each occupying a different tent on the camp’s sprawling grounds. T-Mobile supplies SIM cards to allow individuals to connect with loved ones; another organization dishes out free pizza, and yet another deals with animal rescue.

Collectively, the humanitarian-aid teams supply the same commodities that Russia’s president seemingly has stripped from the landscape: goodness and mercy.

“Every volunteer and aid worker came to the camp with the intention of helping out these people,” says Rojulpote. “Whatever you had, you gave away. There was nothing to sell, only to give away.”

Even so, constant threats persist. Human traffickers ply their ugly trade around refugee camps, taking advantage of young children and others separated from their families. (Nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have been forced from their homes, including those still inside the country, according to published reports.)

Rojulpote had signed up to serve in a medical tent operated by Sauveteurs Sans Frontieres, known as “SSF” or Rescuers Without Borders. Its team there has treated thousands of people, mainly women, teens and young children. The medical tent contains a few plastic lawn chairs, often arranged near the wood stove, and a single bed. Plastic shelves are stacked with clear bins containing exam gloves, saline bags and medications organized by malady: antidiarrheal, antipsychotic, antidiabetic, antiviral, antifungal and antihypertensive. A defibrillator kit rests within reach.

From his post, Rojulpote, who was often dressed in five layers of clothing to stay warm, treated arriving refugees for hypothermia, dehydration, chronic conditions and a range of non-specific symptoms such as headaches, fever and fatigue.

“When I went to med school I was 18,” he says. “And if you had told 18-year-old me that one day I would be the only night physician in a refugee camp providing medical aid in a humanitarian crisis, I wouldn’t have believed it. My younger self would have been proud.”

‘A golden heart’

He recalls one night at camp, watching as a family of five approached the border gate. The husband and wife, each holding a hand of the youngest toddler, were visibly anxious. The two older children, however, scampered ahead, giggling and jumping, as if playing a game of hopscotch.

“Children don’t know their lives have changed drastically,” says Rojulpote. “The parents are often just trying to hold it together. And it’s heartbreaking, because the life that they’ve known no longer exists.”

Amid this bleak reality, a single person’s kind or compassionate act can seem like a brilliant light.   

For Rojulpote, that fact was best exemplified during his stay in Poland by Sasha – the man who greets people at the border gate. Draped in a Ukrainian flag, Sasha stands a few yards from the gate every day from 8 a.m. until late evening. As incoming refugees pass through, he offers to carry their luggage, tells them in their own language what the camp has to offer and directs them to the appropriate tent for the services they need. He has vowed to continue his self-appointed duties until the war ends.

“We need more Sashas in the world,” says Rojulpote. “For someone who isn’t even sure his family is alive, who pretty much has had everything taken from him, yet who finds the inner strength to continue to do something good to help others, I mean, he has a golden heart.”

Now safely back to work treating patients at The Wright Center, Rojulpote urges that if your heart beckons you to do something for Ukraine’s citizens, or others in need, listen to it and act today.

Learn more about The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education, and its residency and fellowship programs that emphasize service to vulnerable populations, by visiting TheWrightCenter.org.

Marywood University Sets Summer Admissions Events

Marywood University has set its summer admissions events, and prospective students have several options to visit the campus. For additional information, go to the websites listed for specific events, or call the Office of Admissions at (570) 348-6234.

Summer Undergraduate Open House: July 16, 2022

The signature summer event is the Undergraduate Open House, Saturday, July 16, 2022, for high school students and their parents. Registration begins at 9 a.m. in the Fireplace Lounge at the Nazareth Student Center on the University’s campus. Prospective students can meet with current Marywood students, faculty, and coaches. There will be opportunities to explore academic departments, learn more about the admissions process, and tour campus. Information sessions with admissions and financial aid counselors also will be available. The event includes a continental breakfast and a complimentary lunch. To register, visit marywood.edu/openhouse.

Summer Saturdays

In-person visits are available on select Saturdays, beginning in June. Visits include a small group info session with an admissions counselor and campus tour. To register, visit marywood.edu/summersaturdays.

Weekday Visits during the Summer

In-person visits to campus throughout the summer include an info session with an admissions counselor and campus tour. Select a visit date by going to marywood.edu/visitcampus.

Veterans’ Trust Fund Grant Opportunities Available

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, is encouraging nonprofits and veterans organizations to apply for supplemental grant funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA).

This week, DMVA announced that the 2021-22 Veterans’ Trust Fund (VTF) is currently accepting supplemental grant applications for programs and services benefiting Pennsylvania veterans. Grant applications must be received no later than 2 p.m. on Wednesday June 1.

“According to DMVA, the supplemental grants are the result of continued generous public donations to the VTF,” said Boback. “The funding will go toward much-needed programs that benefit Pennsylvania veterans and their loved ones.”

VTF funding is available to veteran service organizations with 501(c)(19) status and nonprofit organizations with a mission of serving Pennsylvania veterans granted 501(c)(3) status under the Internal Revenue Code. Funding priorities for applicants in this category are employment and education, behavioral health initiatives, and other programs or services that address unmet needs of veterans and their families.

The VTF is funded by Pennsylvanians residents who voluntarily donate when applying for or renewing driver’s licenses, photo IDs or motor vehicle registrations; purchase Honoring Our Veterans standard and motorcycle license plates; purchase Honoring our Women Veterans standard license plates; or make private donations.

Since the grant program began in 2013, 205 grants totaling nearly $5.2 million have been awarded to organizations providing services to veterans in Pennsylvania.

To learn more about the VTF and the grant application process, visit www.vtf.pa.gov

NEPA Yoga Festival Hosted by Nearme Yoga

The 9th Annual NEPA Yoga Festival will feature over 100 offerings throughout the weekend including, but not limited to, yoga, meditation, live music & DJ, hiking, wellness & inspirational talks, social gatherings, and more. Each year, this family-friendly event brings master yogis and novice practitioners together from all over the Northeast. Join us in cleansing your heart and recreating your best self! 

Teachers from all over the country will hold classes on the grounds of Montage Mountain Water Park, which will remain open throughout the festival – so bring the kids! This is an event for the whole family and spectator passes are available for anyone who just wants to come check it out!

NEPA Yoga Festival is an event centered around connection; our slogan is “Connection through Abundance.” This event is just that – It is about meeting wonderful people, connecting with amazing vendors, practicing with top of the line instructors, getting inspired by speakers, and feeling “whole” with our holistic healers. This event was created by Chelsea Manganaro Yoga and hosted by Nearme Yoga at Montage Mountain 9 times now. It started as a passion project to bring awareness to anyone in the field of healing in NEPA, and since 2014, the event has grown to the nearby states and continues to gain traction. 

For those of you who have never been to the event, the easiest way to explain it is there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re advanced and have been practicing for 20 years or are taking your first yoga class, we assure, you will be fine. There’s something to do for all ages, including a waterpark and a children’s area. For the last few years camping has been an option, but local hotels also are offering a discount to accommodate. 

The event is just a short 2 hour drive from Philly or NYC, and it’s the perfect time of the year to get out of the concrete and into the woods. In addition to yoga and fitness classes, we have lectures, vendors, meditations, a healing area, and new this year AFTER FEST with DJs and live music! 

Time and time again, this event becomes the highlight of the year for many. We have tons of concerts and events, but not many surrounding making yourself happier and healthier. We hope you can make it this year and experience it for yourself. We hope to see you there! Doors open at 7:30am on June 11th, and the first 100 people to enter will receive a swag bag filled with products from our sponsors!

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NEPAyogafest

Website: www.nepayogafestival.com

Contact: Chelsea Manganaro

570-213-9642 (570-213-YOGA)

Steamtown National Historic Site Train Rides

Train rides have officially returned to Steamtown National Historic Site (NHS) for the 2022 season! Rail experiences vary from short 30-minute trips exploring the park’s historic railroad yard to full-day trips through the Poconos.  Short train rides, the Scranton Limited and Caboose Experience, are offered Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The first excursion trip of the season will take place on Saturday, May 28th to Jessup, PA allowing visitors to experience the annual Saint Ubaldo Day “Running of the Saints” (La Corsa dei Ceri).

New for the 2022 season, all ticket sales will be credit card only. Visitors are now able to purchase advance tickets for our summer excursions (May-Aug.) online through recreation.gov or on-site at our Information Kiosk during regular business hours of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, daily. Tickets for our short train rides, the Scranton Limited and Caboose Experience, are not available online or for advance purchase and must be purchased on-site at the Information Kiosk, the day of your visit. Those looking to plan for our autumn excursions (Sep.-Oct.), will be able to purchase tickets starting Friday, July 15th.

Short Train Rides:

  • The Scranton Limited or the Caboose Experience will operate on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, as staffing permits. Departure times are: 10:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm.
  • Tickets are $6 for adults and kids over the age of 5; kids 5 and under are free. Tickets must be purchased on-site at the Information Kiosk, the day of your visit.

On days we offer our longer excursion rides, the Caboose Experience will be offered in lieu of the Scranton Limited, as staffing permits.

2022 Summer Excursions: Tickets available through recreation.gov or on-site at Information Kiosk

  • Saturday, May 28thJessup: Saint Ubaldo Day “Running of the Saints” (La Corsa dei Ceri)
  • Sunday, June 12thGouldsboro: Special Railfest Excursion
  • Saturday, June 18thCarbondale: Outdoor Train (BIKE)
  • Saturday, June 18thArchbald: Outdoor Train (HIKE)
  • Saturday, June 25thDelaware Water Gap: Founder’s Day
  • Saturday, July 16thTobyhanna: Ice House Tour
  • Saturday, July 23rd – Archbald: Penn Division History
  • Sunday, July 31stCresco: Antique Cars and Live Music
  • Saturday, August 13th – East Stroudsburg: Lunch in the Park
  • Sunday, August 28thCresco: Antique Cars and Live Music

2022 Autumn Excursions: Tickets available Friday, July 15th

  • Saturday, September 24thCarbondale: Autumn Marketplace
  • Saturday, October 1st East Stroudsburg: Pickle Me Poconos
  • Saturday, October 8th – Gouldsboro: Pumpkin Patch
  • Saturday, October 15th – Delaware Water Gap: Fall Foliage
  • Saturday, October 22nd – Tobyhanna: Fall Foliage and Town Tour
  • Saturday, October 29th – Gouldsboro: Ghoulsboro Halloween

It’s never too early to start your trip planning! Specific event information can be found by visiting the event calendar on the park website anytime. Station information and ticket pricing can be found on recreation.gov by searching “Steamtown National Historic Site.”


  • The NPS has updated its masking guidance based on the CDC’s new COVID-19 Community Levels tool, which helps communities decide what prevention steps to take. Masking requirements in NPS buildings and on passenger coaches are based on local conditions. Updates are posted weekly, on Fridays, to www.nps.gov/stea.
  • Train rides are subject to cancellation due to mechanical issues, inclement weather, or crew availability.

The following spaces and activities are available during regular visiting hours:

  • The Visitor Center;
  • The Park Store;
  • The 1902 Roundhouse including the “Cut-a-Way” display;
  • The 1937 Roundhouse;
  • The Theater;
  • The History Museum;
  • The Technology Museum;
  • Designated areas within the Railyard.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. While the listed areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, services may be limited. The CDC has offered guidance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

Located in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania, Steamtown NHS is open 9:00am to 5:00pm, daily. From Interstate-81 follow exit 185 (President Biden Expressway, formerly known as Central Scranton Expressway); then follow the brown and white signs to the park entrance at Lackawanna Avenue and Cliff Street (GPS: N 41.41, W 75.67). General park information is available by phoning (570) 340-5200, or by visiting the park website anytime.

State Employees Honored with Governor’s Awards

At a ceremony today, Governor Tom Wolf presented a group of employees from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Office of Administration (OA) with the Governor’s Awards for Excellence, in recognition of their efforts to develop Find My Ride (FMR) Apply, an easy-to-use online tool that allows individuals in most Pennsylvania counties to apply for transportation assistance programs.

The honorees are:

  • John Taylor, Mass Transit Manager 1, PennDOT;
  • Ian Detamore, Transportation Planning Specialist 2, PennDOT;
  • Aaron Wolf, Transportation Planning Specialist 2, PennDOT;
  • Daphne Simeonoff, Human Services Analyst Supervisor, DHS;
  • Ronald Minnich, Human Services Analyst, DHS;
  • Maribel Torres, Human Services Analyst, DHS;
  • Amy Stum, Project Manager 2, OA;
  • Venkata Chimmili, Senior Applications Developer, OA;
  • Shane Daniels, Applications Developer Administrator, OA; and
  • Loc Tan Tran, Information Technology Manager 1, OA.

FMR Apply was developed collaboratively with transit agencies, and streamlines the application process for the five largest transportation assistance programs in the state, including the Senior Shared Ride program, the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP), ADA complementary paratransit, the Persons with Disabilities program and the Free Transit Program. Additionally, FMR Apply allows third-parties, such as a family member or healthcare provider, to apply for services on behalf of a rider.

“Transportation needs to work for everyone,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “By making the application process more efficient, these teams have made it easier for many people across Pennsylvania to access important transportation services that will keep them connected to their communities.”

Since its rollout of FMR Apply in May 2021, benefits to transit agencies, PennDOT, Department of Human Services, and customers has been considerable. Customers do not need to determine what programs they are eligible for, and this, coupled with the user-friendly application has resulted in an increase in applications submitted. Automatic data validation within the application has resulted in improved data accuracy, saving transit agencies time and money in processing applications. Transit agencies can process applications more efficiently, which allows transit users to access benefits more quickly. 

 “We are always working to make the services we provide easier to access for the people we serve. The Find My Ride service is an excellent example of state agencies like DHS and PennDOT working collaboratively to meet the needs of Pennsylvanians, whether they need a ride to the doctor’s office or the grocery store,” said Acting DHS Secretary Meg Snead. “I could not be more proud of my colleagues for earning this honor today, and I offer them my congratulations and sincerest thanks for the work they do.”

DHS’ MATP program provides non-emergency medical transportation for Medicaid-eligible consumers who do not have access to transportation. MATP funds more than nine million trips annually, and each county provides the type of transportation that is the least expensive while still meeting an individual’s needs.

The project team paid special attention to accessibility when developing FMR Apply, including validating color contrast, use of captions, use of assistive reader devices, sentence length, and reading level to evaluate the forms accessibility. User feedback has been extremely positive and has been demonstrated by the continuous increase in online applications.

“Technology works best when it is designed to work for everyone,” said Secretary of Administration Michael Newsome. “Making Find My Ride Apply easy to use for people who need transportation services, including older Pennsylvanians and people with disabilities, is part of a broader initiative under Governor Wolf to improve how we deliver services to all Pennsylvanians through customer-centered thinking and approaches.”

FMR Apply leverages Keystone Login, a single, secure user credential that can be used to log into multiple Commonwealth online services.  

The Governor’s Awards for Excellence recognize exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation and increased efficiency. The PennDOT, DEP and OA team was among 50 employees from 12 state agencies honored by Governor Wolf at a ceremony today.