University of Scranton to Reopen Clinic

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Thanks to a new partnership with Geisinger, The University of Scranton’s Edward R Leahy, Jr. Clinic for the Uninsured will reopen to the public in January 2024 with enhanced learning opportunities for area undergraduate and medical students.

A Master Affiliation Agreement signed today between the University and Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine adopts a “student-run” model for the clinic that provides “high quality care in a welcoming, respectful, and compassionate environment” for the region’s uninsured patients and expands opportunities for practical experience in patient care, clinic management and other aspects of healthcare for students. The clinic’s teaching and learning opportunities began with reimagining the clinic itself, with students from both The University of Scranton and Geisinger involved in every aspect of planning.

“Since October 2022 as a senior at The University of Scranton and now as a first-year student in the M.D. program at GCSOM, I have had the unique opportunity to participate in the reimagining of The Leahy Clinic,” said Olivia A. Zehel, a 2023 graduate of The University of Scranton and current first-year GCSOM medical student and Abigail Geisinger Scholar. “As a member of the last undergraduate class to experience the University ’s campus before the pandemic, I felt how passionate my classmates were about serving in such a capacity – and shared in their disappointment when the clinic was forced to close. Simultaneously, as a resident of the broader NEPA community, I recognized that access to quality care became even more of a privilege. I am thrilled that our work for the last 10 months – and the work both institutions will continue to do – will allow us to reinvent and reinforce medical learning and healing in our region.”

Third-year GCSOM medical student clinic planner, Madison Gladfelter, said, “During our first and second year of medical school, we spent a lot of time hitting the books and trying to understand each disease and its treatment. However, behind every disease there is a patient. A student-run clinic never lets medical students forget they are not treating the disease, but a patient.”

The Leahy Medical Clinic, located in the lower level of McGurrin Hall with a Kressler Court entrance, will operate under a substantially different model of care compared to the original Leahy Medical Clinic, founded in 2008, which ceased operation in 2020 because of the pandemic. The new medical clinic will provide longitudinal care to patients, replacing the former acute care approach of the original clinic. The medical clinic will provide routine physical examinations, primary care, pre-work physical examinations, adult pre-education physical examinations, and sick visits. 

Susan Russell, M.D., family physician for Geisinger and assistant professor at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, will serve as the medical director for the clinic. Dr. Russell and other volunteer physicians will routinely be on site precepting and supervising student volunteers at the free clinic.

“Among the things that make Geisinger’s education unique is our emphasis on accountability to the community,” said Julie Byerley, M.D., M.P.H., president, Geisinger College of Health Sciences; dean, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine; and executive vice president and chief academic officer, Geisinger. “The Leahy Clinic incorporates that as well as another aspect we value, teamwork among interdisciplinary professionals. This clinic will serve the long-term needs of some of our most vulnerable neighbors, while also offering invaluable opportunities for residents and medical students to work with a variety of other learners to deliver quality primary care. This truly is making better health easy for our communities.”

“At Scranton, we not only want our students to be prepared well within their chosen disciplines – but also want them to be leaders who serve others. That is exactly the role our students – and the medical students – have played in moving this project forward,” said Rev. Joseph Marina, S.J., president of The University of Scranton. “The groundwork laid here will benefit, serve and inspire future physicians, nurses, other health care providers and students from other disciplines for generations to come. By addressing the health needs of the most vulnerable members of our community, our students are demonstrating the Jesuit ideal of being ‘men and women for and with others.’”

Demonstrating a commitment to inter-professional education, the University’s Leahy Clinic continues to offer several areas of care in addition to the medical clinic, including a counseling clinic, low vision clinic and physical therapy clinic.

The Counseling Clinic will offer free clinical mental health counseling and rehabilitation counseling and is conducted by graduate-level counseling students under the direction and supervision of faculty in the University’s Counseling and Human Services Department.

The Low-Vision Occupational Therapy Clinic provides free services to uninsured or underinsured residents of Lackawanna County, and offers opportunities for teaching and learning to University faculty and occupational therapy students.

The Physical Therapy Clinic provides screening, examinations/evaluations and interventions to the uninsured and underinsured members of the community at no cost. The management of the clinic is run by a team of students from the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program and treatment of patients is conducted by DPT students through collaboration, peer-mentorship, and evidence-based practice. Supervision is provided by DPT program faculty and licensed physical therapy clinicians from the community. 

The medical Leahy Medical Clinic, which will serve uninsured people primarily in Lackawanna County, will begin operating for the public in January.