The Wright Center Receives Grant

Members News

The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education was awarded a $3 million grant to train internal medicine residents and faculty to better serve patients living with limited English proficiency and/or physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities.

The five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), will also be used to train internal medicine residents and faculty in best practices for patients who all too often experience disproportionate impacts to care access.

The Wright Center is one of 18 programs around the country awarded a total of $8 million in grants as part of HRSA’s mission to improve access to health care for underserved and marginalized groups.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 27% of adults in the United States live with some type of disability. The Wright Center for Community Health provides whole-person primary health services to patients in eight counties, including Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming counties. Nearly 16% of residents in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties are people with disabilities, while more than 16% of the population in Pike and Susquehanna counties and nearly 18% in Wayne County are people with disabilities, according to the American Community Survey. The state average, according to the same survey, is just under 14%. 

“The absence of professional training toward disability consciousness for health care practitioners is one of the most significant barriers that prevent people with disabilities from receiving appropriate and effective health care,” said Dr. Jumee Barooah, the senior vice president of education and designated institutional official for The Wright Center.

Additionally, the communities The Wright Center serves are becoming increasingly diverse, with a notable influx of Hispanic, Indian, Nepali, and Bhutanese residents moving to the region within the last decade. More than 60 languages are spoken in the Scranton School District. Patients at The Wright Center speak more than 22 languages, including Spanish, Nepali, Mandarin, Krio, Gujarati, Hindi, Serbian, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.

Research has shown that when a patient’s primary spoken language differs from the primary language of the health system, worse health outcomes often result, according to Wright Center officials. Putting methods in place to aid communication with patients who are most comfortable communicating in a language other than English can improve their health and well-being. “We were so pleased to learn we were awarded this grant from HRSA,” Dr. Barooah said. “It is allowing us to increase the number of internal medicine physicians who are trained in these vital best practices through developing and implementing an enhanced curriculum, which in turn will have a positive impact on patient care for all of our community members.”