Chamber Goes “All In” on AI at the 155th Annual Dinner

The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce held its 155th Annual Dinner, presented by PNC Bank, on Wednesday, March 27, at the Scranton Cultural Center in downtown Scranton. Over 450 people attended, including Lackawanna County Commissioners Bill Gaughan and Matt McGloin. Shawn Kanungo, a disruption strategist, bestselling author, and former innovation expert for Deloitte, was the keynote speaker.

The event included a networking dinner followed by the Chamber program where board chair, Attorney Jerry Musheno offered remarks and had a little fun with generative AI. The Chamber, along with the help of member Posture Interactive, developed AI photos and videos for the night’s entertainment. Members submitted prompts that generated photos.

The Chamber’s President, Bob Durkin, stated, “The Chamber is blessed to have such strong support from our regional business community. The Annual Dinner is an occasion to salute all of our members and celebrate the efforts of our literally hundreds of volunteer leaders over this past year.”

Pete Danchak, northeast PA regional president of PNC Bank, offered remarks and introduced Shawn Kanungo, the keynote speaker. Kanungo is a world-renowned generative AI expert who gave an inspiring keynote on AI’s power in businesses.

Kanungo delivered a riveting challenge to the audience on AI and its power of influence on the world. AI can be a useful tool to help advance small businesses that don’t have the manpower but use the tool wrong, and the intent of AI can have a negative impact. Kanungo’s work with corporations has shaped their trajectory as they harness AI’s power to advance operations and lay a foundation of mining through data, creating social campaigns, and more. His presentation gave Chamber members a perspective on AI for their businesses and paved a path for future discussions.

The incoming board chair, Attorney Marianne Gilmartin, concluded the evening with remarks and looked to the upcoming 2024–25 program year. The Chamber’s success stems from its members and their growing businesses.

Gerrity’s Ace Hardware to Celebrate Grand Opening

On April 5-7, Gerrity’s Ace will celebrate the grand opening of our newest location in Carbondale.  The details are listed in our attached circular.  We will be holding the ribbon cutting on April 5 at 11:00 AM. 

The Wright Center Shares Obesity Weight Loss Story

Due to her weight, Julianna Morse limited her life.

She wouldn’t get on a bicycle and sometimes didn’t dare to step on a ladder. Even a trip with her children to the amusement park was daunting because of her struggle with obesity.

“Your biggest fear is you sit in the ride, and the safety restraint doesn’t close,” says Morse, who is raising two children. “And then you have to get up in front of all these people and get off the ride. Why would I set myself up to be embarrassed and to feel worse?”

The Forest City resident finally found the weight-loss support she needed at The Wright Center for Community Health – a provider of whole-person primary health services, including obesity medicine and lifestyle medicine.

She is now adjusting to a new normal: about 160 pounds lighter than a few years ago.

For Morse, 38, that means she has been learning to live – after a lifetime of apprehension about her body size – with greater freedom and fewer self-doubts. Her Wright Center care team, led by Dr. Jumee Barooah, helps to manage her thyroid levels and focus on maintaining a realistic target weight. She also turns to the team for nutritional advice and assistance with other physical and behavioral health issues.

“Honestly, I enjoy coming to The Wright Center,” she says. “I know they’re going to listen to me and they’re going to help.”

About three years ago, for example, Morse underwent bariatric surgery – a major procedure in which changes are made to the digestive system to promote weight loss. The decision didn’t come easily or quickly. She spoke with Dr. Barooah about her hesitancy, and the physician stood by her through a few false starts, referring Morse to first one, then another surgeon.

Morse refers to that surgery, which was performed by a Geisinger team, as a “tool,” not a magical cure, for her condition. That’s why she continues to work with The Wright Center’s health care providers for physical, emotional, and nutritional support.

“Weight management is a complicated thing,” says Morse. “People will tell you, ‘Oh, just watch what you eat and exercise.’ But it’s not that simple.”

Reshaping views on obesity

Obesity – often called the nation’s most prevalent chronic disease – is associated with several of the leading causes of preventable, premature death. Yet physicians and patients are sometimes hesitant to address the sensitive topic directly, and there is concern in the medical community that unconscious weight bias has too often prevented patients from receiving the proper care plans.

Fortunately, the medical community has begun to re-examine its approach to obesity.

The Wright Center, in an effort to best serve its patients with weight-related illnesses, now employs four board-certified obesity medicine physicians: Drs. Barooah, Linda Thomas-Hemak (who is also president and CEO of The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education), Manju Mary Thomas, and Nirali Patel.

These specially trained doctors consider the many complex, sometimes intertwined, factors that can contribute to excessive weight gain – genetic, environmental, behavioral, nutritional, etc. – and then develop a personalized weight-loss solution for each patient.

“By recognizing obesity as a multifactorial disease,” says Dr. Barooah, “today’s medical professionals are prepared to give patients the facts and the tools they need to take charge of their health and manage their condition.”

Since January 2021, more than 925 patients seen by The Wright Center’s obesity medicine-trained physicians have achieved weight loss. Collectively, these patients have dropped more than 16,000 pounds.

By reducing excess body fat, people will typically see cosmetic changes. More importantly, they will be on track to improving their overall well-being, reducing the risk of developing health problems such as heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and certain cancers.

“The good news,” according to the Mayo Clinic, “is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent the health problems associated with obesity.”

For children and adolescents with obesity – who, in too many cases, get teased, bullied, or ostracized by their peers – treatment can improve not only their physical well-being but also their social and emotional development.

The disease puts young people at increased risk for anxiety, depression, and many other serious health issues, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Dr. Thomas, who is dually board certified in pediatrics and obesity medicine, treats her young patients at The Wright Center by prescribing appropriate and compassionate care plans that work for the patient and their families.

“Through our team-based approach, we try to address all the underlying issues,” says Dr. Thomas. “It’s beneficial to act early because we realize that children who have obesity are more likely to carry the condition over into adulthood.”

‘Constantly being judged’

Morse knows all too well the scrutiny, and cruelty, faced by larger-than-average children. “I’ve always been heavy,” she says.

“When I was in sixth grade, they had me see a nutritionist,” recalls Morse, a Simpson native. “I would write down everything I ate during the week, and then every Friday, I would meet her at the nurse’s office and go over it with her.”

The one-on-one meetings during the school day were just another source of humiliation for a young girl already coping with her classmates’ ridicule and name-calling.

In addition to calorie counting, she tried many other weight-loss methods through the years: WeightWatchers as well as apps like My Fitness Pal, Noom, and Lose It! (She’s currently using the Carb Counter app.)

During a stint after college, Morse lost weight through an exercise regimen that involved going to the gym two hours a day, seven days a week. If she opted out of going to the gym one day, she’d walk seven or more miles instead.

But for Morse, each victory was short-lived. No matter what she tried, the weight would return when her schedule or priorities shifted because of parenthood, career, and life pressures. “You do good for a little bit, lose 20 pounds. Then all of a sudden, something happens, and, uh, you’re back up where you were before,” she says. “It’s just a see-saw effect, teetering all over.”

As her weight fluctuated, Morse experienced emotional highs and lows. Her inner voice has, at times, worked against her best interests, and she has often wrestled with nagging thoughts about how people perceive her abilities – and her very essence – simply because of her size.

“You feel,” says Morse, “as if you’re constantly being judged.”

Moving beyond old limits

At The Wright Center, Morse began routinely receiving medication in 2014 to control her thyroid. She continues to have her thyroid levels checked routinely.

She resisted the notion of surgery for a while, telling herself she should be able to control her weight purely with willpower. Now that she has had the procedure, Morse believes it was the correct option for her — not to imply that it made her life, or even her diet, perfect.

She still needs to be selective about foods and carefully chew each biteful to avoid digestive troubles. She began seeing a neurologist for help in controlling migraines. And she continues to sometimes cope with body dysmorphia, picturing herself as heavier than she really is.

The Wright Center team works closely with Morse, giving her the necessary care for each issue or, for certain matters, referring her to local experts. As Morse sees it, any form of obesity surgery – much like the suddenly popular new “weight-loss drugs” seen on social media – is only one part of a combination of tactics that must be used together to keep weight in check.

Her condition demands her ongoing attention. After all, she says, “I have 38 years of bad habits that are hard to break.”

Morse has seen and felt major improvements in the past few years because of the treatments and lifestyle changes she has embraced. “I can work 60 hours a week now and not feel like I got hit by a tractor-trailer,” she says.

Her improved stamina has also been apparent to her when hiking with her best friend in the Moosic Lakes area. No more huffing and puffing as she walks up hills, she says. Plus, last summer, the duo even paddled boats across the water – an experience that, until recently, would have seemed improbable because of her fear of getting stuck in an embarrassing situation.

“Before my weight loss,” says Morse, “you would have never caught me trying to get in a kayak.”

For information about obesity medicine and other whole-person primary health services available at The Wright Center for Community Health, visit


Lackawanna County native Julianna Morse, seen here during phases of her weight-loss journey, has dropped 160 pounds in recent years while getting medical, nutritional, and other support at The Wright Center for Community Health. ‘Weight management is a complicated thing,’ she says.

Scranton Art Haus Cinema and Social Club to Host Grand Opening

You’re Invited to attend Scranton Art Haus’s Grand Opening and Ribbon-Cutting Celebration on Friday, April 5, 2024, at noon!

Friday. April 5th – Noon – Front of Art Haus

  • Ribbon Cutting Ceremony & Lighting Count Down – Noon
  • Light buffet afterward in the theater lobby
  • Free Cake & Popcorn Cupcakes 
  • First Friday: Karaoke Night with Taliyah Smith starts at 7 pm, and Paint on Canvas is from 5 to 9 pm. 
  • $8 Movies all Weekend.

Saturday, April 6 – Scranton Art Haus

  • $8 Movies all-day
  • Free Art Haus Popcorn with a food purchase.
  • Jack Mead & The West Third Street Band 
  • 7 to 10 pm in the lobby

Sunday, April 7 – Scranton Art Haus

  • $8 Movies all-day
  • Free Hot Dogs with food purchase
  • Acoustic Open Mic -Mike Baresse (Musicians Welcome)  2 to 5 pm

Misericordia University Hosts Event on Breast Cancer

Join us on Monday, April 8th, at 6:00 p.m., in Insalaco Hall rooms 218/219 at Misericordia University, as we welcome Dr. Landfranchi for an enlightening session. Dive into an exploration of the reasons behind the 5.3% increase among women aged 20-29. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights from an expert in the field. To learn more, please visit

Four Geisinger Hospitals Recognized as Leaders in Caring for People with Diabetes

Four Geisinger hospitals have been named Recognized Leaders in Caring for People Living with Diabetes, a designation bestowed by The Leapfrog Group in collaboration with the American Diabetes Association.

The recognition means that Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Geisinger Lewistown Hospital, Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre and Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital met the most rigorous standards for delivering safe, high-quality care to patients with diabetes. Geisinger’s hospitals were among 17 to achieve the distinction across the country. With four hospitals recognized, Geisinger has the most recognized facilities in the country.

“This recognition highlights our decade-long and systemwide multidisciplinary approach to helping our patients with diabetes manage their disease, reach their personal treatment goals and avoid complications,” said Brian Jameson, D.O., Geisinger director of endocrinology. “A big thank you to all our colleagues in nursing, pharmacy, primary care, endocrinology and information technology who made the programs and practices to improve diabetes care part of the Geisinger culture. We look forward to the future and continuing our efforts to improve the lives of our patients with diabetes.”

Hospitals were assessed based on key indicators that demonstrate the highest level of training on caring for diabetic patients, including:

  • Evaluating policies and protocols that support patient-centered care
  • Adherence to evidence-based guidelines in preparing patients for surgery as well as managing all diabetic patients in the hospital
  • Implementation of robust planning for high-risk diabetes patients from the day of admission to discharge and facilitating a seamless transition from hospital to home.

Robert Gabbay, M.D., chief scientific and medical officer at the American Diabetes Association, emphasized the importance of this recognition. “There is an immense need to ensure hospitals provide safe, patient-centered care for all people who live with diabetes,” he said. “Hospitals recognized through this program are leading the way.”

“Eight million people living with diabetes are hospitalized each year in the United States, and a disturbing number of them experience safety breakdowns due to preventable medical errors,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “This program is a powerful tool to promote facilities that can appropriately accommodate and safely manage care for these at-risk patients.”

NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania Names Shane K. Powers President and CEO

NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania (NeighborWorks) today named Shane K. Powers president and CEO. Powers, who currently serves as the organization’s chief operating officer, succeeds Jesse J. Ergott, who is departing in April 2024 (

“We thank Jesse for his service and contributions to NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania over the past two decades,” said Teddy Michel, NeighborWorks board chair. “We wish him well in his future endeavors and are fortunate to have someone of Shane’s caliber ready to step into this role as we launch into an exciting new chapter of opportunity for our organization.

“Shane will lead a talented team at NeighborWorks, one that is focused on extending our strong track record of collaboration, innovation and impact,” Michel said. “She will undoubtedly continue the organization’s trajectory of meaningful community leadership.”

Powers, who joined NeighborWorks on Jan. 3, 2022, brings extensive experience in relationship management, securing funding awards, scaled project delivery, staffing optimization and programmatic expansion. Her knowledge of operations, combined with a foundational belief in metrics and data analysis, enables her to develop coherent visions, strategies, and objectives. Prior to serving as chief operating officer at NeighborWorks, she worked as chief operating officer for the Tunkhannock Area School District, general manager for DHL Supply Chain and department leader at Procter and Gamble.

“I am very excited to begin this next chapter and work alongside the NeighborWorks Board of Directors, community partners and our NeighborWorks team. I’m eager to listen and engage with these key stakeholders as we deliver on our mission to create stable, vibrant communities by amplifying the voices of residents and providing critical housing assistance, financial guidance, community development services and proactive partnerships,” said Powers.

Johnson College Hosts Annual 3D Printing Competition

Johnson College hosted its annual 3D Printing Competition for local high school students on Friday, March 22, 2024, at its Scranton campus.

The competition was an opportunity for students from Forest City, Lakeland, Scranton, Wallenpaupack, and Wilkes-Barre Area STEM Academy to showcase their abilities and creativity using science, technology, engineering, and math. Using 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) skills, participants designed and printed a device that could launch a projectile across the College’s gymnasium. 

The student who placed first, James Telep from Lakeland Jr. Sr. High School, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Johnson College. Second place was awarded to Caelum Cahoon from Forest City Regional High School and third place to Gavin Zellers from Lakeland Jr. Sr. High School.

The event, which was sponsored by The New Jersey Chapter of SAMPE and Boyce Products Ltd., featured a keynote address given by Adam Hecht, co-founder and Director of Additive Manufacturing at DiveDesign, a full-service design agency. He gave students a behind-the-scenes look at how DiveDesign is helping to disrupt industries with the use of 3D Printing.

To learn more about Johnson College’s STEM opportunities for local school districts, visit

Hospice of Sacred Heart Hosts Social Work Breakfast

Social Workers from Hospice of the Sacred Heart and many healthcare facilities gathered at the hospice office in Moosic March 21st for the annual Social Work Breakfast.

The theme of “Increasing Awareness and Sensitivity about Cultural Diversity and Inclusion” was highlighted by a panel discussion including Dr. Jumee Barooah, Designated Institutional Official, The Wright Center for Community Health, Sister Ruth Neely, CRNP, The Wright Center for Community Health Ryan White HIV Clinic, Martin Russo, an advocate for the transgender community and Rabbi Daniel J. Swartz, Spiritual Leader, Temple Hesed.

The mission of Hospice of the Sacred Heart is to provide comfort, care, hope and choice to patients and their families, while guiding them through the end of life journey.

Photo caption left to right: Sister Ruth Neely, MSN, CRNP, The Wright Center for Community Health Ryan White HIV Clinic, Rabbi Daniel J. Swartz, Spiritual Leader, Temple Hesed, Diane Baldi, CEO, Hospice of the Sacred Heart, Martin Russo, Advocate for the transgender community and Jumee Barooah, M.D., FACP, Designated Institutional Official, The Wright Center for Community Health

UNC to Host 2nd Annual Designer Purse Bingo

UNC’s 2nd Annual Designer Purse Bingo is taking place at Holy Cross High School in Dunmore on Friday April 5th. We have amazing purses to win, “celebrity” callers, a huge bingo recall screen, additional chances on raffle items, 50/50, a gift card pull, and special games – all we need is you! It’s a Friday so bring your own Happy Hour. Doors open at 5:30pm, bingo starts at 6:30pm. Tickets are $30 in advance. $35 at the door.  

The proceeds benefit UNC’s many programs and services.  This is a 21+ event.

Register 10 or more for reserved seating. Call Chrissy Manuel, UNC Director of Development & Communications for more information at: (272) 228-1371 or email

For tickets, please visit: