Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine’s Gala Raises More Than $100,000 for Student Scholarships

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine celebrated a monumental success with its annual Black Ties for White Coats Gala, raising more than $100,000 in support of student scholarships. Held at Mohegan Pennsylvania on Saturday, April 20, the event brought together esteemed guests, faculty, students, and community members for an evening of philanthropy and celebration.

Geisinger Commonwealth would like to thank the Diamond Sponsor of this year’s event, Mericle Commercial Real Estate Service/Discover NEPA and the Gold Sponsor, Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. The annual gala serves as a cornerstone fundraising event for the school and is aimed at supporting the next generation of healthcare leaders. “We are thrilled by the overwhelming generosity and support shown at this year’s Gala”, said School President and Dean Julie Byerley, MD, MPH. “The funds raised will directly impact our students by enabling them to pursue their dreams of becoming a healthcare provider who will make a difference in the communities they serve.”

The success of the Black Ties for White Coats event underscores Geisinger Commonwealth’s commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive learning environment where students from all backgrounds can thrive. By providing scholarships, the school aims to alleviate the financial burden of medical education and empower students to focus on their studies and clinical training.

Each year Geisinger Commonwealth selects a Founders, Wel-lbeing and Community honoree. This year’s honorees include:

Founders: Tom Churilla, MD

Well-being: Shubhra Shetty, MD

Community: The Scranton School for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Children 

Geisinger Neurosurgeon Shares Information for Stroke Awareness Month

Below is a piece on strokes by Geisinger Neurosurgeon Dr. Clemens Schirmer.

All strokes involve potential damage to an area of the brain. And all strokes have the same symptoms — which makes it easier to know when to seek help. But strokes have different causes, and that means different treatments and different recovery paths.

Strokes fall into two categories:

  • Ischemic stroke
  • Hemorrhagic stroke

Most strokes — almost 90 percent — are ischemic. These happen when blood flow through the artery to the brain becomes blocked, usually by a blood clot. 

There are two types of ischemic strokes:

  • Embolic stroke
  • Thrombotic stroke

An embolic stroke occurs when a blood clot travels to the brain and becomes lodged inside an artery. Thrombotic strokes happen when a blood clot forms inside one of the brain’s arteries.

Treatment involves removing the blockage as quickly as possible.

A hemorrhagic stroke happens when the brain leaks blood, damaging or destroying brain cells. Hemorrhagic strokes are typically caused by high blood pressure and aneurysms but can be caused by malformations or fistulas.

There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes:

  • Intracerebral hemorrhage
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage

Intracerebral are the most common types of hemorrhagic strokes, they Intracerebral occur when bleeding takes place within the brain. Subarachnoid hemorrhage strokes take place when bleeding occurs between the brain and the spaces that immediately surround it due to a ruptured aneurysm or malformation.

Treatment of hemorrhagic stroke focuses on controlling bleeding and reducing pressure in the brain.

You’ve probably heard of “mini” or “warning” strokes. The technical term for these is transient ischemic, or TIA, stroke. With a TIA, blood flow to the brain is usually blocked for less than 5 minutes and symptoms resolve within 24 hours, and usually much faster. But a TIA is a warning sign that a future, more severe stroke may occur. A TIA stroke requires immediate treatment and should be managed carefully, just like any other stroke. Doing so can lower your risk of having a major stroke.

Knowing the warning signs of a stroke and calling 911 as soon as possible can have a big impact on recovery. Use the acronym BE FAST to remember the signs and know when to seek help:

  • Balance difficulties
  • Eyesight changes
  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911

The good news is that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented through healthy lifestyle behaviors:

If you think you may be at risk for having stroke, talk to your healthcare team.

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Geisinger Hospitals Rated Above National Average in Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade

Four Geisinger hospitals earned the top Hospital Safety Grade from the Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit watchdog organization. Geisinger Medical Center, Geisinger Community Medical Center, Geisinger Lewistown Hospital and Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital each received an “A” grade for protecting patients from harm and error in the hospital. Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center and Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital both received a “B.”

While three of the four “A” grades remained unchanged from the fall, Geisinger Community Medical Center improved significantly, moving from a “C” to an “A” grade.

“These achievements reflect our ongoing dedication to delivering exceptional care and continuously improving our practices to better serve our patients and community,” said Anthony Petrick, M.D., Geisinger’s chief quality officer. “With exceptional ratings at all of our hospitals, it displays the complete dedication and commitment to putting our patients first.”

Founded in 2000, the Leapfrog Group is an independent national watchdog organization that assigns an “A,” “B,” “C,” “D” or “F” grade to hospitals across the country based on more than 30 national performance measures reflecting errors, injuries, accidents and infections, as well as systems hospitals have in place to prevent harm. 

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is the only hospital ratings program focused exclusively on preventable medical errors, infections and injuries. The grading system is peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public. Grades are updated twice annually, in the fall and spring. 

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EMPOWER, The Leadership Experience: Inspiring Leaders and Cultivating Potential

EMPOWER, The Leadership Experience, presented by Geisinger and hosted by The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, left attendees feeling motivated, challenged, and deeply engaged in soul-searching conversations. With over 800 attendees, including 61 enthusiastic high school students, the event was a testament to the region’s commitment to cultivating leadership and business innovation. Attendees found the experience to be resourceful, tapping into a wealth of knowledge and expertise from the event’s two keynote speakers and 46 regional breakout speakers, panelists, and wellness presenters.

For the second consecutive year, The Honesdale National Bank sponsored the teen program, providing high school students with a unique opportunity to embark on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Through a series of workshops and interactive sessions, these young leaders were equipped with the skills and motivation to uncover their purpose and drive positive change in their communities. The Teen Program was in partnership with The Chamber’s leadership development affiliate, Leadership Lackawanna, and Luzerne County’s leadership cohort, Leadership Northeast.

President of The Chamber, Bob Durkin, shares, “The growth of  EMPOWER with over 800 attendees is, I believe, a measure of the emergence of women in leadership positions across northeastern Pennsylvania. We hope and believe that this program is providing women with professional and personal development tools and resources that will add to that trajectory.”

Keynote speakers Dr. Lauren Hazzouri and Patrice D. Banks, renowned for their expertise in leadership and personal development, shared their insights and experiences, leaving a lasting impression on attendees.

“You are going to fail. PERIOD. You are human, and it’s just going to happen. However, it’s what you do with that failure to move forward to continue with your purpose,” shared Patrice D. Banks, founder of Girls Auto Clinic.

Dr. Hazzouri and Banks, through their captivating stories and practical advice, empowered participants to embrace change, overcome obstacles, and unlock their purpose. Attendees at the breakfast keynote session were asked to name one word that defines their purpose. The three most common phrases reported were happiness, helping others, and families. The challenge to all attendees was to run hard after their purpose and allow their purpose to fuel their life ambitions.

The event’s lineup of regional breakout speakers and panelists covered a diverse range of topics. Attendees found these sessions to be invaluable, offering actionable takeaways, and fresh perspectives on leadership in today’s dynamic world.

The conference included the Highmark Wellness Studio, which hosted 10 wellness presenters, and the Fidelity Vendor Marketplace, which housed 37 Chamber members and their businesses.  

As EMPOWER continues to evolve, organizers remain committed to providing a platform for leaders at all stages of their journey to connect, learn, and grow together. With each passing year, the event serves as a catalyst for positive change, empowering individuals and organizations to make a lasting impact on the world around them.

Northeast PA, save the date for April 24, 2025, at Kalahari Resort & Conventions.

Geisinger Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Scranton Recognized by Patient Safety Authority

Geisinger Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Scranton was honored with a 2024 I AM Patient Safety achievement award from the Patient Safety Authority. The award recognizes advancements, outcomes and commitment to patient safety across Pennsylvania and the nation. The doctors and their team were selected from more than 125 nominations, foremost for their impact on patient care.

The team at Geisinger Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Scranton — led by Mohamed Shitia, D.O.; Kevin Colleran, M.D.; and Aaron Wey, M.D. — was nominated for the I AM Patient Safety award by the Krevey family of Pittston, whose teenage daughter Emily had multiple sports-related injuries over a five-year span.

From eighth grade through her senior year of high school, Emily had fractures, tendon and ligament tears and an injury to the bone and cartilage in her ankle. Each time, the orthopaedic physicians’ care and expertise allowed her to heal and continue to play — helping Emily’s team win conference and district titles for three straight years.

“The Scranton orthopaedics team members were incredible beyond words,” said Emily’s mother, Terri Lee Krevey. “The future is hers to take, thanks to this group of physicians.”

Since their inception in 2013, the I AM Patient Safety achievement awards have honored hundreds of programs and people who positively impact patient safety. The awards are judged by a cross-section of national and regional health care executives; patient safety advocates; and government, university and patient representatives.

The Patient Safety Authority is an independent state agency that collects and analyzes patient safety data to improve safety outcomes and help prevent patient harm.

Geisinger Allergist and Immunologist Shares Allergy Tips for 2024 Season

Geisinger’s Dr. Neil Baman, allergist/immunologist at Geisinger Scenery Park, State College, shares tips to help this year’s allergy season.

As the temperature outside starts to climb above 50 degrees, people start peeking their heads outside. But once it hits 60, people throw open their windows to start spring cleaning with a rush of fresh air. 

If you’re a spring allergy sufferer, think before you open that window. People aren’t the only ones reacting to the warm weather—pollen is, too.

As the weather warms up, trees start producing pollen that can end up in our nose and eyes and cause allergic symptoms. If you get spring allergies, it’s better to be proactive than reactive—prepare for spring allergies long before it’s warm enough to open those windows.

The best way to prepare for spring allergies is to understand your personal triggers, start medications, monitor pollen levels and consider alternative treatments.

Stock up your medicine cabinet.
There are various medications that will help you through allergy season: antihistamines, decongestants, steroidal nasal sprays and eye drops. All of these medications can be used together or separately to reduce symptoms. 

Antihistamines reduce your body’s allergic response. Antihistamines are available over the counter. A word of caution, though — some antihistamines can cause drowsiness, so be sure you know how the medication affects you before operating any heavy machinery, including driving your car. 

Steroidal nasal sprays can reduce nasal inflammation and allergy symptoms. Most allergy nasal sprays are available over the counter and are usually used for one to two sprays per day, per nostril. Steroid nasal sprays are not the same as decongestant nasal sprays as they can be used longer than decongestants. There are also antihistamine nasal sprays available, but these require a prescription from your physician.

Eye drops can help with reducing itchy and watery eye sensations. Make sure you remove your contacts lenses before using them. Some eyes drops are available over the counter, and some require a prescription from your doctor. 

Keep an eye on pollen counts
Many weather and air quality news organizations report on allergen levels. Check these sites to keep track of the allergens that irritate you. If you notice that pollen counts are high, consider making adjustments to your schedule. 

To avoid pollen, be careful about opening windows in your house and in your car. It can let a lot of pollen in that you may not even see with your eyes. When you come home at the end of the day, change into different clothes. This can help you avoid tracking pollen into your house. In addition, before you go to bed, make sure to take a shower to wash off the pollen from the day. Thoroughly vacuum and clean your house to lower indoor pollen levels. Clean or change your air filters to make sure they aren’t full of pollen.

When you spend time outside, consider wearing sunglasses to stop pollen from getting into your eyes. If you’re doing something that would make you come in contact with a lot of pollen—like gardening or mowing the grass—wearing a special filter mask can help keep pollen out of your lungs. Wear gloves when handling things that may have pollen on them. 

Consider alternative treatments
When your hands are dirty, you wash them. This allergy season, consider doing the same for your nose. Tools like neti pots and sinus rinses can flush out the pollens that are stuck in your nose, irritating your sinuses. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions on a neti pot or sinus rinse to avoid discomfort and potentially dangerous side effects.

Neti pots are a great way to flush out pollen and get rid of mucus. If you use a neti pot, make sure that you’re using purified or distilled water. Using tap water increases the risk of life-threatening infections. 

See an allergist
When they’re sick, people go see a doctor. But for allergies, some people choose to suffer and wait it out. Ultimately, this doesn’t get to the root of the problem, so allergies affect you each and every year. An allergist can give you insights into what’s causing your allergies and even help cure them.

When you go to an allergist, they will test you for common indoor and outdoor allergens. Based on your reactions, your doctor can tell what you’re allergic to. 

Next, the allergist has the ability to create personalized immunotherapy injections to help decrease your allergy symptoms. These shots contain small doses of the allergens to help you build up immunity.

If your allergies are particularly uncomfortable or making breathing difficult, talk to your doctor about other ways you can lessen your symptoms.

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Surgeon General of the United States to Deliver Keynote Address at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM) announced that Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the Surgeon General of the United States, will deliver the keynote address at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine’s 12th annual commencement ceremony scheduled for Sunday, May 5 at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre.

“We are honored to welcome Dr. Murthy,” said Julie Byerley, MD, MPH, GCSOM’s president and dean. “He has used his far-reaching platform as Surgeon General to advocate for population health issues that Geisinger has made central to our mission, like greater access to care, addressing loneliness, and healthcare worker well-being. We look forward his remarks as we celebrate the graduation of our twelfth class of physicians, now totaling more than one thousand doctors, from our medical school.”

Jaewon Ryu, MD, JD, president and CEO of Geisinger, noted that Dr. Murthy has long championed a comprehensive approach to medicine that prioritizes mental health and wellness. “As a national leader in value-based care, Geisinger is proud that Dr. Murthy will encourage our graduates to pursue our shared vision of medicine. He knows well what Geisinger means when we say our mission is to make better health easier and I know he will inspire the class of 2024 to dedicate their careers to doing just that.” 

Dr. Murthy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 2021 to serve as the 21st Surgeon General of the United States. As the nation’s top doctor, Dr. Vivek Murthy helps to advance the health and well-being of all Americans and has worked to address critical public health issues. He has issued Surgeon General Advisories on the youth mental health crisis and social media’s impact on youth mental health, the epidemic of loneliness and isolation, and on burnout in the health worker community. Dr. Murthy also issued a Surgeon General’s Framework on mental health in the workplace and he is the first Surgeon General to host a podcast, House Calls with Dr. Vivek Murthy, where he invites guests and listeners to explore how we can all build more connected and meaningful lives. 

As Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Dr. Murthy oversees more than 6,000 dedicated public health officers serving underserved and vulnerable populations. 

Dr. Murthy previously served as the 19th Surgeon General under President Obama. Raised in Miami, Dr. Murthy received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard, his medical degree from the Yale School of Medicine, and his master’s in business administration from the Yale School of Management. 

Risant Health Completes Acquisition of Geisinger

Risant Health has announced the completion of its acquisition of Geisinger as its first health system dedicated to increasing access to value-based care and coverage. Together, the organizations will create a new value-based care platform that includes best practices, tools, technology and services to support leading community-based health systems.

Risant Health’s goal is to expand and accelerate the adoption of value-based care in diverse, multipayer, multiprovider, community-based health system environments and improve the health of millions of people in communities across the country. Through this first acquisition, Risant Health brings together Kaiser Permanente’s integrated care and coverage expertise and Geisinger’s experience in advancing value-based care in a model that includes various payers and a broad network of providers, while serving some of the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.

With the close of the Risant Health and Geisinger transaction, Jaewon Ryu, M.D., J.D., who has served as Geisinger’s president and CEO since 2019, will become the first CEO of Risant Health. As announced in March 2024, Terry Gilliland, M.D., will assume the role of president and CEO of Geisinger once Dr. Ryu’s transition to Risant Health is complete.

“Risant Health and Geisinger share a vision for the future of health care. Through Risant Health, we will leverage our industry-leading expertise and innovation to increase the country’s access to high-quality and evidence-based health care, which we know improves care quality and the patient and member experience,” said Risant Health’s board chair, Greg A. Adams. “We will also learn and benefit from Geisinger and the additional health systems that become part of Risant Health in the future, to help them grow in new ways, be more affordable and bring value-based care to more people.”

As its inaugural health system, Geisinger will play an important role in shaping Risant Health’s strategy, platform and operational model. Geisinger will maintain its name and mission, continue accepting patients covered by other health plans and continue offering its members a broad network of care providers in addition to Geisinger.

“Geisinger is proud to formally join Risant Health as its inaugural health system, which will accelerate our vision to make better health easier, more affordable and more accessible for the communities we serve,” said Dr. Ryu. “Geisinger now can extend its vision, strategy and impact to more Pennsylvanians because of the access to an expanded set of tools, expertise and capital that joining Risant Health provides.” 

As a part of Risant Health, Geisinger will build on its 109-year mission to care for rural and urban communities across Pennsylvania. Geisinger will have access to capital, technology and resources to fuel improvements in facilities, drive innovation and investment in patient care, and continue the expansion of Geisinger Health Plan.

In the future, Risant Health’s investments to advance value-based care will accelerate Geisinger’s journey to make better health easier by offering Geisinger members enhanced health insurance options and offering patients easier access to Geisinger’s high-quality, innovative clinical programs and more robust health management technology, tools and programs.

Risant Health expects to acquire 4 to 5 additional leading community-based health systems over the next 4 to 5 years.

Risant Health’s value-based platform will support its health systems with a set of technology, services and capabilities designed to deliver superior health outcomes and a lower total cost of care, in diverse business models.

Initial platform solutions will aid Risant Health organizations in delivering evidence-based care everywhere — the “best-of” knowledge to provide high-value, effective care at the right time. Additionally, Risant Health will help health systems and their patients know how to easily understand, access and navigate to the right care at the right time and place. Risant Health’s acquisition of Geisinger Health was reviewed and approved by the appropriate federal and state agencies and the transaction closed on March 31, 2024.

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine to Host Black Ties for White Coats Gala

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, with learning venues throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania, will host its Black Ties for White Coats gala on Saturday, April 20, at Mohegan Pennsylvania in Wilkes-Barre to benefit medical student scholarships. Prominent community members who embody aspects of the school’s founding principles, community service and well-being will also be honored. 

When:       Saturday, April 20, 6 – 11 p.m.

Where:      Mohegan Pennsylvania

                  1280 Highway 315


This year’s honorees are: 

Community Honoree:
The Scranton School for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Children

Well-being Honoree:
Shubhra Shetty, MD

Founders Honoree:
Tom Churilla, MD ’13