The Wright Center for Community Health Opening North Scranton Practice

The Wright Center for Community Health is expanding access to health care by establishing the North Scranton Practice, which will begin accepting patients on Monday, July 17.

The new practice at 1721 N. Main Ave., Scranton, will offer a full complement of primary and preventive care, addiction and recovery services, and other supportive service lines. The North Scranton Practice location formerly housed Dr. Paul Remick’s family practice under Horizon Medical Corp. Dr. Remick retired June 30. 

With the new location, The Wright Center for Community Health offers a network of nine permanent locations across Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wayne counties that, together with its mobile medical and dental unit called Driving Better Health, serves more than 40,0000 unique patients annually and ensures everyone in the service area has access to high-quality, affordable health services, regardless of their insurance status, ZIP code, or ability to pay.

A Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike, The Wright Center for Community Health’s patient-centered medical home is an essential community provider of safety-net primary and preventive health services, a state-designated Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence, and a Ryan White HIV/AIDS Clinic.

The North Scranton Practice, open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., is accepting appointments for new patients. To schedule an appointment, call 570-346-8417 or go to and click on the appointment link near the top of the page. To see a complete list of clinic locations, hours of operation, and services, visit

Representatives Tour The Wright Center for Community Health Practice

Representatives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Intergovernmental & External Affairs toured The Wright Center for Community Health Scranton Practice on Thursday, June 29 to highlight the Biden administration’s work to lower prescription drug costs for Americans and to explain how Medicaid beneficiaries can maintain their health care coverage amid post-public health emergency changes to renewal requirements.

Melissa Herd, acting regional director and executive officer, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs,  Region 3, HHS; Leah Suter, regional administrator, HRSA; and Robert McKenna, deputy regional administrator, HRSA, and Theresa Devine Kimak, public health advisor, HRSA, discussed the federal initiatives designed to protect health care access with Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, president and CEO of The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education, resident physicians, board members, and clinical care team representatives during a personal meeting and tour of the health care facility that provides oral, primary, preventive, and specialty care services to patients of all ages, income levels, and insurance statuses.

“The Wright Center is privileged to fulfill the delivery of its noble mission by working collaboratively with the United States Department of Health and Human Service and numerous like-minded community partners,” said Dr. Thomas-Hemak. “Together we strive to ensure patients and families in our service area have inclusive access to high-quality, comprehensive, equitable, and affordable primary and preventive health services and a respected voice in the generation of our incumbent and future health care workforce.

“Collectively, we are tirelessly working to bolster our national primary care and public health infrastructure to improve the health care and health of our country,” she added. “We are excited to host and celebrate our accomplishments as a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike, Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program service provider, and Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Safety-Net Consortium with our national partners.”

Thanks to President Joe Biden’s new lower-cost prescription drug law, part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the lives of people with Medicare are changing for the better. In addition to giving Medicare the ability to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs, highlights of the new law include a $35 monthly cap per insulin prescription and free recommended preventative vaccines.

With the federal public health emergency ending in May, it marked the discontinuation of Medicaid’s continuous coverage requirement. Medicaid users now must complete their annual renewal for health care coverage. Since May, more than 3,500 Pennsylvanians have been disenrolled because they failed to complete the renewal process. More are expected to lose coverage for the same reason during the year, according to HHS.

The Wright Center for Community Health has been working to educate regional residents about the redetermination process for Medicaid coverage. The regional primary and preventive care provider has been distributing educational packets to patients, while community health workers also offer patients the personal attention they need to complete the renewal application process.

“Medicaid is our Swiss army knife of health – we use it to address maternal health, homelessness, food insecurity, provide mental health support to young people in their schools, to help improve care and coordination for the formerly incarcerated, and more,” Herd said.

Pennsylvania is one of 40 states to expand Medicaid, ensuring people across the state can access health care coverage. Had out-of-pocket costs for covered vaccines been eliminated in 2021, more than 177,459 Pennsylvanians who received vaccines under Part D would have saved almost $11 million or $60.43 per Medicare enrollee. And the $35 monthly insulin cap would have saved more than 80,197 state residents with Medicare an average of $543 on their insulin in 2020, according to HHS.

Today, a record 92 million Americans rely on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, better known as CHIP, for their health care, including nearly 3.7 million in the commonwealth, according to HHS.

The Wright Center for Community Health’s patient-centered medical home has nine locations in Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wayne counties, including a mobile medical and dental unit called Driving Better Health, that serve more than 40,0000 unique patients annually and ensures everyone in the service area has access to integrated, high-quality, affordable health services, regardless of their insurance status, ZIP code, or ability to pay.

“The Wright Center for Community Health and its network of providers in Northeast Pennsylvania emphasize the importance of primary and preventive care for patients of all ages, from pediatrics to geriatrics,” said Dr. Jignesh Y. Sheth, chief medical officer for The Wright Center for Community Health. “The federal changes to Medicaid and CHIP renewal requirements could potentially reduce access to health care for some patients. That’s why the Wright Center for Community Health offers a sliding-fee discount program based on family size and income. It ensures health care services are accessible and more equitable for everyone, he added.”

For more information about The Wright Center for Community Health, go to or call 570-230-0019.

The Wright Center Promotes Routine Vaccinations for Infants

During National Infant Immunization Week, April 24-30, The Wright Center for Community Health joins with other advocates across the nation in highlighting the importance of protecting children 2 years and younger from vaccine-preventable diseases. Those diseases include hepatitis B, rotavirus, rubella, whooping cough, and other conditions that can cause permanent disability, or even death.

Polio, measles, and other once-dreaded diseases are again threatening large numbers of children in the United States, due in part to the viral spread of something that physicians cannot easily cure: Misinformation.

The Wright Center for Community Health provides primary and preventive care services for patients of all ages, income levels, and insurance statuses at its network of health care clinics in Northeast Pennsylvania. Dr. Manju Mary Thomas, a pediatrician, provides a well-visit checkup for a pediatric patient at the Mid Valley Practice in Jermyn.

Bad advice about vaccines circulates broadly on social media and continues to cause well-meaning parents to delay or outright reject important immunizations in their children’s early years. In turn, that can result in needless sickness and suffering – and put entire communities at risk of outbreaks.

“Parents and caregivers of young children, including kids under 2, should check with the child’s health care provider to make sure the child is up to date on all age-appropriate immunizations,” said pediatrician Dr. Manju Mary Thomas, medical director of The Wright Center’s Pediatrics and Community-Based Medical Home Services.

“And if a child has fallen behind on any immunization schedule, make an appointment with the doctor’s office to get back on track,” added Thomas, who also sees pediatric patients at The Wright Center for Community Health Mid Valley Practice. “On-time vaccination is of vital importance to provide the best defense against potentially life-threatening diseases.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other promoters of the observance week tout the collective impact that routine childhood vaccinations have made over the past century, calling it a public health success story.

They frequently point, for example, to the introduction of the safe and effective polio vaccine in the United States in the mid-1950s as a major milestone. Before the vaccine’s availability, outbreaks led each year to more than 15,000 cases of paralysis. By 1979, polio infections caused by wild poliovirus had been eliminated in the U.S., only emerging when brought into the nation by travelers.

Other diseases also have been significantly controlled. In fact, the CDC estimates that routine childhood immunizations among individuals born between 1994 and 2018 will prevent over the course of their lifetimes an estimated 419 million illnesses. That translates into a reduction of 8 million hospitalizations and 936,000 early deaths, according to the CDC.

The Wright Center for Community Health provides access to pediatric vaccines at its multiple primary and preventive care practices in Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wayne counties. It also routinely dispatches a mobile medical unit, called Driving Better Health, to schools and other community hubs in Northeast Pennsylvania, offering age-appropriate immunizations and other services. The vehicle makes it easier for certain populations to get health care near where they live, work, and play. To find dates and locations of upcoming routine vaccination clinics, visit The Wright Center’s online events calendar, at

A parent or caregiver with questions about pediatric vaccines should talk with a trusted health care provider.

In addition to Dr. Thomas, The Wright Center for Community Health retains the services of these physicians who are board-certified in pediatrics: Drs. Prachi Agarwal, Kabir Keshinro, Alberto Marante, Vijay Prasad, and Linda Thomas-Hemak, the latter of whom is president and CEO of The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education. They, and the enterprise’s other health care professionals, are available to listen to a parent’s concerns and have fact-based and respectful conversations.

Immunizing large swaths of the population is critical to building herd immunity and protecting the most vulnerable members of a community. Those at-risk residents include individuals “who are too young to be fully immunized or others who cannot receive recommended immunizations due to compromised immune systems,” according to the Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition.

The coalition’s local chapter, the Northeast Immunization Coalition based in Wilkes-Barre, helps to amplify that important message and support partners, such as The Wright Center, as it strives to correct misinformation, administer shots, and prevent steep declines in immunization rates that have led to recent trouble in some parts of the nation.

A measles contagion in central Ohio late last year sickened more than 80 children, reportedly hospitalizing at least 32. Also, in 2022, the New York Department of Health issued a state of emergency after an unvaccinated young adult was paralyzed by polio, and wastewater testing later confirmed the spread of the virus in New York City and nearby counties.

Health officials suspect that a backlash to restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, including mandated coronavirus immunizations in certain schools, might be fanning the current anti-vaccine sentiment. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has called vaccine misinformation “among the biggest threats” to public health.

Parents can do their part to protect their kids – and their communities – from easily preventable illnesses. Make an appointment to talk with a respected pediatrician or other health care professional about routine childhood vaccines.

For information about The Wright Center for Community Health’s pediatrics and other primary care services, call 570-230-0019 or visit

Wolf Administration Outlines Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking,Offers Survivor Resources, Encourages Public to Learn and Act

Executives from the Pennsylvania departments of Transportation (PennDOT) Health (DOH), Labor and Industry (L&I), and Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), and the Office of Victim Advocate were joined by other advocates today to discuss human trafficking, outline efforts to combat it, explain how to report potential cases, and offer resources for survivors.

Human trafficking is the exploitation of people using force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of commercial sex, forced labor, or domestic servitude. According to the International Labor Organization, there are approximately 28 million victims of human trafficking globally with 17.3 million people experiencing forced labor in private sector industries and 6.3 million experiencing forced commercial sexual exploitation. January is recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness Month, with January 11 marking #WearBlueDayPA to raise awareness of trafficking.

“Human trafficking is happening across the world, and unfortunately, right here in Pennsylvania,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said. “We’re collaborating at state, national, and local levels to combat this problem and we urge the public to join us in the fight.”

PennDOT is one of the first state government agencies nationwide to educate its employees on human trafficking awareness, with all staff at driver’s license centers and Welcome Centers receiving training. The training was also made available to other department employees, transit agency employees, and is available online under the “Human Trafficking” Media Center at

The National Human Trafficking hotline (1-888-373-7888) is a 24/7 resource for victims and service providers that also collects data about human trafficking for every state and the District of Columbia. Since 2007, the hotline has over 7,760 calls and online, text, and email reports in Pennsylvania. In that same time, nearly 1,900 cases of human trafficking involving more than 4,000 victims were identified. The hotline website provides additional Pennsylvania data such as a yearly breakdown of contacts, case types, and case demographics.

Members of the PSP Organized Crime Task Force participate in human trafficking investigations that lead to arrests and prosecutions with multiple federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the PA Office of Attorney General.

“The Pennsylvania State Police conducts numerous law enforcement training in identifying trafficking cases across the state each year. We also provide civilian training at schools, hospitals and hotels because we cannot do this alone,” said Lieutenant Adam Reed, Director of the PSP Communications Office. “The public can help police in our mission to fight human trafficking in Pennsylvania by educating themselves on the warning signs and by calling authorities when things don’t seem right.”

The public is urged to report potential human trafficking situations to the national hotline, which coordinates with law enforcement and other professionals, at 1-888-373-7888, or the state tip line, 1-888-292-1919. Tips can also be sent via the See Something, Send Something phone application or by email to

While it is challenging to identify a trafficking situation, potential warning signs could include:

  • lack of knowledge of a person’s community or whereabouts;
  • restricted or controlled communication where people cannot speak for themselves;
  • people not in control of their own identification documents; or
  • signs of branding or tattooing of a trafficker’s name (often on the neck).

The United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines labor trafficking as the “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.” The U.S. Department of State and the nonprofit National Human Trafficking Hotline summarize this definition of labor trafficking as a “form of modern-day slavery,” often involving debt bondage, forced labor, and involuntary child labor.

In Pennsylvania, L&I enforces laws and regulations that protect workers, including children, seasonal and farm workers, immigrant workers and factory workers. Its work ensures that workers do not fall prey to organized systems of forced, unpaid, underpaid or hazardous labor that are common in labor trafficking. L&I collaborates with law enforcement agencies when labor law violations overlap with labor-trafficking crimes.

“L&I is committed to working with our partner agencies and law-enforcement professionals to ensure that no child is forced to work or put in a hazardous working condition; that no worker is deprived of their protections under Pennsylvania and federal laws; and that no business is engaged in unlawful labor activities that could negatively affect Pennsylvania workers and other businesses,” L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said.

Concerned Pennsylvanians are urged to say something if they see something. If you suspect a trafficking situation, it is better to call the hotline and be wrong than to not call at all.

“Women make up a majority of reported survivors, but human trafficking isn’t just a women’s issue. Survivors of human trafficking come from all backgrounds, genders and identities,” said Executive Director of the PA Commission for Women Moriah Hathaway. “Human traffickers target underserved and marginalized communities, especially people who identify within the LGBTQ+ community, children and houseless individuals. Any person who is perceived as vulnerable is at great risk for exploitation, which is why this partnership is so important.”

“The buying and selling of people is just as wrong today as it was hundreds of years ago. Pennsylvania state agencies are grateful for the community partners doing work to combat and prevent human trafficking in our communities across the state. Together, we can stop trafficking in Pennsylvania,” said Commonwealth Victim Advocate Suzanne Estrella.

Resources for victims and survivors are available in Pennsylvania:

“The consequences of sex trafficking are similar to the consequences of other sexual violence,” said Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson. “Consequences can be immediate and long-term, including physical and relationship problems, psychological concerns, and negative chronic health outcomes. But sex trafficking is preventable, and we are fighting back in a variety of ways.”

PennDOT has compiled resources from the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign to end human trafficking, Pennsylvania-based resources as well as related videos and graphics in its “Human Trafficking” Media Center at

The PA Office of Victim Advocate – with partners Mission Kids Children’s Advocacy Center and Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation – has launched a campaign to combat child sex trafficking. Learn more and access free resources at

MEDIA CONTACTS: Erin Waters-Trasatt or Alexis Campbell, PennDOT, 717-783-8800

                                    Myles Snyder, PSP, 717-783-5556 or

                                    Mark O’Neill, DOH,

Alex Peterson, L&I,

                                    Ashley Walkowiak, OVA,

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