The Wright Center News

Members News

Read below to discover what Maria Kolcharno from the Wright Center says about The Healthy MOMS program.

Maria Kolcharno, L.S.W., serves as director of addiction services for The Wright Center for Community Health. She supervises the daily operations of addiction-related services and grant-funded clinical operations, including the Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been five years since The Wright Center and a number of other regional community organizations launched the Healthy MOMS program as a way to meet the needs of families affected by substance use disorder.

The Healthy MOMS – it stands for Maternal Opiate Medical Support – program was established in 2018 to help pregnant women and new mothers overcome addiction and embrace a life in recovery. Participants are offered blanket services that include medication-assisted treatment and addiction services, counseling, primary health care, OB-GYN care, parenting tips, legal advice, and numerous other forms of support. It’s all about providing mothers with the strong foundation they’ll need for them and their children to enjoy a happy, healthy life.

Named after a program of the same name in Ohio, Healthy MOMS was initially introduced as a pilot program in two counties, with initial grant funding secured by the Lackawanna/Susquehanna Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs. Today, the program assists women in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming counties.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of community partners representing Northeast Pennsylvania’s health care, legal, housing, and social service organizations, the program has proven to be nothing less than a resounding success. Over the past five years, we’ve touched the lives of more than 430 babies and mothers.

I’m very proud of the number of people our program has been able to assist, but I know we must continue working hard to reach more people in need. As we know too well, even under the most idyllic circumstances, it takes a village to raise a child. Adding the complex struggles surrounding opioid addiction to the equation can make pregnancy an even tougher time.

With that realization in mind, our team focuses on our clients’ health, financial, legal, and personal needs. The program provides medication-assisted treatment, behavioral health, case management, and social services, ideally engaging mom and baby all the way up until the child’s second birthday.

The evidence suggests that mothers who join the program and participate in recovery services well before their delivery dates are less likely to give birth to babies who experience neonatal abstinence syndrome, a potentially painful and costly medical condition caused when a newborn withdraws from opioids or other drugs that the baby had been exposed to in the womb.

While Healthy MOMS has served mothers as young as 14, the program mostly works with women in their 20s and 30s. Many of our moms have said the program gave them a stronger sense of optimism and an increased self-confidence, and several others have noted that it led them to wanting to obtain their GED and pursue their education even further.

Obviously, the program depends on solid funding to carry out its mission, and thankfully we’ve been fueled by generous grant support from private, state, and federal entities, including the AllOne Foundation, Robert H. Spitz Foundation, Direct Relief, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. And, of course, our many community partners are hugely integral to our continued success.

Five years in, we’ll keep that momentum going, continuing to build upon Healthy MOMS’ services and partnerships. It’s truly a privilege to be involved with a community program so worthwhile.”

For more information on the Healthy MOMS program, call 570-955-7821 or visit

Read below to discover what Maureen Litchman from the Wright Center says about healthy aging.

Maureen Litchman, M.D., a board-certified family medicine physician, is the medical director of The Wright Center Wilkes-Barre Practice, where she sees patients of all ages. Dr. Litchman also serves as associate program director of the Regional Family Medicine Residency Program at The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education.

“I walked into my kitchen. Mail strewn on the counter. There it was. An envelope posted from AARP addressed to me. It was 2005. Reality struck. I was old enough to be eligible for membership. The good news is there are lifestyle changes we can make to lead healthier lives and positively impact our longevity.

Each of us can take a proactive approach in adjusting and supporting our changing bodies. This can be done gracefully by making healthier choices. I am happy to share with you some behaviors each of us older citizens can do to improve the quality and quantity of our lives. And if you’re not quite in an “older age group,” it’s never too early to start adopting some of these changes. Please consider sharing them with someone you love so they can start making some positive changes.

Please allow me to promote September’s observance of Healthy Aging Month, which
began more than 30 years ago to encourage people to focus on their physical and mental health in a positive way.

There are several ways each of us can live healthier lives. Many healthy practices are well within our reach with the right amount of motivation and encouragement. Engaging with others in your pursuit of better health creates supportive relationships. This increases your chances for success.

Below are a few tips to consider. I suggest following one or two behaviors to start and incorporate additional changes every few weeks.

  1. Maintain a healthy diet: Increase your intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and water. Alcohol may be consumed in moderation.
  2. Get up and move! Treat yourself to a walk and enjoy the scenery. If the weather is inclement, find an indoor site such as a local mall and get some steps in. Try increasing how long you walk over a few weeks with a goal of walking for 30 minutes, three days a week. Ways you can increase your activity include: park further away from your destination, use steps instead of an elevator, and walk into drive-in places such as a bank.
  3. See your doctor: Schedule regular preventive and primary care checkups with your primary care physician to reduce disease occurrence or to detect it early enough so treatment may be more effective.
  4. Get a good night’s sleep: Some adults may struggle to get adequate sleep. Your strive to goal would be to sleep seven to nine hours per night. This may increase your level of alertness and improve your mood and memory.
  5. Avoid using tobacco products to include smoking, vaping, and chewing: Please know there are several effective options to assist you in quitting. Have your primary care physician be a member of your team to help you battle this health challenge.
  6. Monitor your brain health: Our brains may change as we get older. The good news is, dementia is not a normal part of the aging process. We can improve brain health by performing activities which challenge our brains: crossword puzzles, Wordle, Sudokus, etc. Please notify your doctor if anything related to your memory or overall brain health has occurred.

We at The Wright Center are trained to help you with your health challenges. We offer a full range of geriatric services that promote good health, prevent disease, treat afflictions, and manage disabilities. We firmly believe that our holistic, whole-person approach to treatment and care is especially beneficial to aging adults who may be categorized as frail or not being listened to by other doctors. We provide them with the tools to live a full and healthy life thanks to our specialized services, which include Alzheimer’s and dementia evaluation and testing; well visits with providers; ongoing care for chronic conditions; caregiver support; preventive care and health education; case management; and linkage to community resources and support services.

That approach is paying big dividends, as evidenced by our geriatric program being recognized
by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement as an Age-Friendly Health System Partner for
providing a full spectrum of primary health and support services for our patients who are young
at heart.

We’re all aging – but with a lot of personal effort and the assistance of our health care providers,
we can age well and continue to enjoy our lives. Whether you refer to getting older as “the golden years” or “the silver tsunami,” let’s all strive to make them the best years of our lives because they are precious.”