Ribbon-cutting held for Women's Health Center and more: What's new in health for the Upper Delaware, November 3 to 9 – River Reporter

Ribbon-cutting held for Women’s Health Center
HONESDALE, PA — Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC) held an official ribbon-cutting on October 20 at its new women’s health …
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Ribbon-cutting held for Women’s Health Center
HONESDALE, PA — Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC) held an official ribbon-cutting on October 20 at its new women’s health center.
The facility, which handles outpatient women’s health services, was recently relocated to 626 Park St., after undergoing a $1.5 million renovation project.
Funding for the project came from the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Moses Taylor Foundation.
Among the people who came by to show support and/or cut the ribbon were commissioner Joe Adams; Dr. Eric Rittenhouse; Frederick Jackson, the executive director of the WMCHC; Patricia Konzman; Sheela Porter-Smith; Kara Poremba; Christina MacDowell; Dr. Angela Tang; Kelsey Madden; and Heather Mecone. Three representatives of the Moses Taylor Foundation were also there: Danielle Breslin, president and CEO; Ellen Stevens, operations and grant manager; and William Lazor, board chair.
Senate approves bills expanding access to breast cancer screenings
HARRISBURG, PA — The PA state senate unanimously passed two bills that could increase access to breast cancer screenings. If signed into law, these tests could be available with no out-of-pocket costs for people at high risk.
Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) noted that breast cancer is the second-most common cancer in women in the U.S. after skin cancers, and early detection is the key to saving lives.
“The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1225 and Senate Bill 1330, which will hopefully play a meaningful role in helping to prevent more of our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends from being impacted by breast cancer,” she said. “Advancement of these bipartisan bills represents a continued commitment to ensuring that women, who often care for everyone else in their lives, have access to the care that they need and deserve.”
Senate Bill 1225 requires insurance coverage for MRIs, with no out-of-pocket costs, for all individuals with high-risk factors. Those include a personal history of breast cancer, family history, dense breast tissue, a genetic predisposition or previous radiation therapy.
Senate Bill 1330 requires insurance coverage of all costs for genetic counseling and genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation, if a person is diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, or has a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
While testing positive for a gene mutation does not mean an individual will get cancer, it does mean they have a much higher risk of developing a hereditary cancer.
The two bills have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Donate blood, save lives
REGION — The American Red Cross urges blood donors of all types, and those who have never given before, to book a time to give blood or platelets, and help keep the blood supply from dropping ahead of the holidays.
People of all blood types are needed, especially platelet donors and those with type O blood. Blood products are critical to keeping hospitals ready to help patients depending on transfusions in the weeks ahead.
To find a blood drive near you, and to make an appointment, visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 800/733-2767.
Garnet Health in top 100 for coronary intervention
MIDDLETOWN, NY — Garnet Health Medical Center has been recognized as one of America’s 100 best hospitals for coronary intervention, according to new research released by Healthgrades.
“We are proud to receive such an extraordinary distinction for the clinical expertise and dedication of our providers, who perform lifesaving procedures with superior outcomes,” said Rosemary Baczewski, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Garnet Health, in a press release.
Healthgrades evaluated patient mortality and complication rates for 31 of the most common conditions and procedures at nearly 4,500 hospitals across the country. This year’s analysis revealed significant variation in patient outcomes between the hospitals on the list, and those that were not.
Learn more about the ranking at bit.ly/3DJ2Tzg.
To learn more about Garnet Health Medical Center, visit www.garnethealth.org.
Be aware of personal illnesses
REGION — As the holiday season approaches, the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) is asking the general public to be mindful of any symptoms of illnesses they could be experiencing, especially COVID-19 symptoms, before visiting a long-term care facility.
Those planning to visit a long-term care facility should consider rescheduling the visit or requesting an online visit if personal health concerns arise.
Historical data from the National Healthcare Safety Network shows that during the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes in Pennsylvania experienced spikes in COVID-19 cases among residents from November through January.
This time of year is also commonly known as cold and flu season, when other illnesses are spread in the community as well.
“It is vital for long-term care providers to have the support of those in the community to help protect the health and safety of the vulnerable population they serve,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the PHCA, in a press release.
Additional protections for residents also include up-to-date vaccinations. The PHCA encourages residents in long-term care facilities to stay up-to-date on their COVID-19 boosters and this year’s flu shot. If eligible, the bivalent COVID-19 booster is available and provides broad protection against COVID-19, while providing better protection against the omicron variant.
COVID-19 vaccine booster clinics
MONTICELLO, NY and LIBERTY, NY — The Sullivan County Department of Public Health is offering free COVID services and patient education. Visit one of two locations to receive a vaccination against COVID-19.
Friday, November 18, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Monticello Firehouse on 23 Richardson Ave.
Saturday, November 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sullivan County Department of Public Health on 50 Community Ln. in Liberty.
The locations are offering Pfizer vaccines for children and babies aged six months to 4 years, for their first, second and third doses; Pfizer for ages four to 11, for their first, second and booster shots; Pfizer for ages 12 and up, for booster shots; and Moderna for adults aged 18 and up, for booster shots.
To register, visit www.vipstarnetwork.com/registration.
Showing up: perspectives on cancer
HONESDALE, PA — An in-person event on Saturday, November 5 gives cancer patients, survivors and their supporters a safe space to show up and share stories.
“Showing Up: Perspectives on Cancer” will take place at the Park Street Complex, 648 Park St., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The event is hosted by Tim Sohn, a chronic leukemia survivor for over 15 years, and is held in partnership with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Sohn’s guest will be Savio Clemente. At 2:30 p.m., Sohn and Clemente will talk about the latter’s perspectives on cancer.
The event also includes a keynote speech by Nancy Barrows, and small breakout groups for attendees to share their stories and receive support from others in a safe space. Rachel Druckenmiller will sing, and Sohn will share his story. Lunch will be provided.
Register at www.perspectivesoncancer.com.
For more information, email tim@sohnsocialmediasolutions.com or call/text 973/255-8110.
Nephrologist joins Wayne Memorial Hospital
HONESDALE, PA — In October, board-certified nephrologist Cyriacus Anaele, M.D., began seeing patients at Wayne Memorial Hospital.
In addition to diagnosing and treating hospital patients, Dr. Anaele has an outpatient practice at the physician specialty clinic at the hospital.
His work includes overseeing dialysis procedures both at Wayne Memorial and at outpatient dialysis centers in the area.
Dr. Anaele graduated from medical school in his native Nigeria, and then went on to complete an internship and residency in internal medicine in New York City, followed by a fellowship in nephrology at Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Lubbock, TX.
Dr. Anaele is also board-certified in internal medicine.
“Dr. Anaele’s skill will serve our community well,” said Wayne Memorial CEO James Pettinato in a press release. “Having Dr. Anaele in-house means Wayne Memorial will be able to provide nephrology services to our patients in the hospital and significantly reduce the need for transfer to another facility.”
“I’m very pleased to come to Wayne Memorial,” said Dr. Anaele. “The hospital has a lot to offer, and it will bring me closer to my sister, who lives in the Baltimore area, and other members of my family.”
Learn more about Wayne Memorial Hospital at wmh.org.
Wright Center employee receives APEX honor
SCRANTON, PA — The Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers has presented Kari Machelli, R.N., the associate vice president of integrated primary health services at the Wright Center for Community Healthy, with the Awards for Primary Care Excellence (APEX) in recognition of her customer service skills.
An APEX award represents the pinnacle of service, quality, innovation and achievement in primary health care, according to a press release from the Wright Center. The association awards providers in 10 categories, to recognize the outstanding efforts of dedicated individuals and teams who work or volunteer for Pennsylvania’s community health centers.
Machelli oversees the nurse care managers and community health workers across the organization; they provide medical and socioeconomic support services for patients. She also supervises and supports the case managers and certified recovery specialists within the Wright Center’s opioid use disorder center.
A resident of Blakely, PA, Machelli began her career at the Wright Center as an R.N. care manager and has been with the organization for more than 20 years. She earned her nursing degree from Penn State.
“Kari Machelli ranks as one of the most competent and patient- and family-centered nurses I have ever encountered,” says Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, president and CEO of The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education.
To learn more about the Wright Center’s mission and integrated health care services, call 570/230-0019 or visit www.thewrightcenter.org.
WMH to hold hospice memorial services
HONESDALE, PA — The hospice department at Wayne Memorial Hospital (WMH) will host a fall memorial service on Sunday, November 6 at 2 p.m. in the Grace Episcopal Church, located at 85 East Main St.
In remembrance of hospice patients who have passed away this past year, hospice staff, volunteers, patient families and friends who have experienced the death of a loved one are invited to attend.
The ceremony is open to the public.
The interfaith service will feature music, candle-lighting and other tributes. Light refreshments will be served following the program.
For more information or for those needing special accommodations, contact Daniela Davis at 570/253-8431, or Joyce Malicky at 570/253-8737.
Get help getting health insurance
HONESDALE, PA — It’s time to choose next year’s health coverage.
The outreach and enrollment staff at Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC) encourage anyone needing assistance obtaining or changing health insurance through the state-based Pennie marketplace to give them a call.
Make an appointment with long-time exchange assister Rebecca Mead or new assister Kyle Davis.
Open enrollment continues through Sunday, January 15, 2023. However, in order to have coverage effective January 1, 2023, eligible consumers must have their plan selected by Thursday, December 15, 2022.
“Navigating Pennie can seem overwhelming, especially for those who haven’t done it previously,” said Mead in a press release. “We’re here to help anyone who reaches out to us.”
Premiums must then be paid by the first of the month before insurance starts.
Outreach and enrollment services remain free of charge to everyone, not just patients of WMCHC physician practices. All appointments must be scheduled in advance by calling 570/251-6569 or 570/251-6554.
For general information on WMCHC Outreach and Enrollment Services, visit www.wmchc.net.
Fourth annual designer purse bingo
WAYMART, PA — The Wayne Memorial Hospital Auxiliary is hosting its fourth annual designer purse bingo event on Sunday, November 6 at Camp Ladore PARC Pavilion, located at 287 Owego Tpk.
Snacks and drinks will be available for sale. There will be a 50/50 raffle and specials, featuring designer items valued higher than the individual purses.
Ticket-holders will get a chance to play 20 games of bingo and possibly win a designer pocketbook from Coach, Kate Spade or Michael Kors—to name just a few designers.
Proceeds will benefit the auxiliary’s Second Century Fund. The fund, launched in 2019, raises money for professional recruitment and advanced equipment and technology.
For information and tickets, email Pettinato at pettinatoj@wmh.org or call 570/903- 7120.
Wayne Memorial receives Level IV Trauma re-accreditation
HONESDALE, PA — Level IV trauma centers are able to provide initial care and stabilization of a traumatic injury—serious or critical bodily injury—while arranging transfer to a higher level of trauma care. Some of the most common traumatic injuries are caused by falls, motor vehicle crashes, burns and assaults.
After a rigorous survey by the accrediting body, the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation, Wayne Memorial Hospital’s Level IV trauma center was re-certified for two years.
“This re-certification recognizes the excellence of our staff and our commitment to quality care,” said CEO James Pettinato in a press release. “As with any serious injury or medical event, time is of the essence, and to have this kind of care close to home is very significant in a rural community.”
Pettinato especially thanked Karen Novobilski, R.N.
“This was truly a team effort,” said Novobilski, “Trauma diagnosis and treatment is multi-disciplinary, involving coordination between life-flight crews, EMS services, receiving facilities for transfers, and of course, many hospital departments.”
GAIT board remembers Dr. Richard Dubensky
MILFORD, PA — The board of directors for GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center presented a plaque that memorializes Dr. Richard Dubensky and his generosity.
The plaque will be hung at the barn.
Since GAIT began in 1995, Dr. Dubensky donated all needed veterinary care, medications and supplies to care for the health of the horses, a GAIT spokesperson said. He also volunteered time, assisting in classes and during special events such as fundraisers and open houses.
Dr. Dubensky supported GAIT’s mission through his philanthropy and as an ambassador.
The board has started the R. A. Dubensky, DVM, memorial fund to help cover the cost of future veterinary services.
Donations are welcome. To contribute, visit www.gaittrc.org.
Aspiring PAs training at the Wright Center
NORTHEAST PA — The Wright Center for Community Health (Wright Center) recently welcomed eight master’s degree-level students. They will be gaining knowledge and experience in primary care practices as they complete a program to become physician assistants.
The students are part of the first class to enroll in the Central Coast Physician Assistant program, a new initiative of the A.T. Still University of Health Sciences (ATSU), working with the National Association of Community Health Centers and select health centers across the country.
Participants in the 24-month program attend ATSU’s Santa Maria campus in California for one year during their pre-clinical phase. Then they enter a clinical phase, which includes 35 weeks of supervised clinical practice experiences at the Wright Center or other locations.
“We are excited to embrace an expanded role in preparing physician assistants to work in community-based teaching health center settings,” said Dr. Linda Thomas Hemak, president and CEO of the Wright Center, “where they will serve and care for historically underserved populations.”
The physician assistants will join a badly needed cadre of health care workers, “essential for the continued workforce renewal of safety-net community providers” such as the Wright Center, she said.
Physician assistants Bryan Boyle and Angelo Brutico, each of whom is a Marywood University alumnus and Wright Center employee, will provide on-site program supervision and leadership as ATSU’s regional directors of physician assistant education.
The Central Coast physician assistant program prepares its graduates to be “highly competent professionals in the science of medicine… steeped in the osteopathic tradition of body, mind and spirit care for the whole person,” according to the ATSU website.
The inaugural cohort of physician assistant students is scheduled to complete its clinical rotation at the Wright Center in June 2023.
To learn more about opportunities in the Central Coast physician assistant program, visit atsu.edu, or call Carla Blakeslee, the Wright Center’s coordinator of clerkships, at 570/591-5116. You can also email her at blakesleec@thewrightcenter.org.
New report released on trends in opioid-overdose hospitalizations
HARRISBURG, PA — Hospitalizations for heroin overdoses decreased 53 percent between 2016 and 2021, according to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4).
But that was only true of white, non-Hispanic, residents living in better-off areas. The rates increased for Black and Hispanic people and for those living in areas with poverty levels greater than 25 percent.
Overall, stays for overdoses of pain medication only posted a five percent decrease.
Total hospitalizations for opioid overdoses decreased by 27 percent, down from a total of 3,342 in 2016 to 2,429 in 2021.
About half (47 percent) of all opioid overdose hospitalizations in 2016 were for heroin overdose, while in 2021 that fraction decreased to about a third (30 percent).
“The findings in this new report shed light on the status of Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic over several years,” said Barry Buckingham, PHC4’s executive director. “While these results show decreases in the inpatient treatment of opioid overdoses in Pennsylvania, care provided in other settings, such as [in] emergency departments or by first responders may show different patterns.” The report shows the largest decrease was between 2017 and 2018—cases dropped 24 percent, from 3,500 to 2,667. There was a small increase (about seven percent) from 2019 to 2020, coinciding with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, the number of hospitalizations fell to its lowest at 2,429.
Other trends
In 2021 alone, patients hospitalized for opioid overdose spent a total of 11,750 days in the hospital, with an average stay of 4.8 days. About six percent of patients died while in the hospital.
Of the 2,429 statewide hospitalizations for opioid overdose in 2021, 18 percent were for fentanyl overdose. Furthermore, of the 153 overdose hospitalizations that ended in death, 34 percent were for fentanyl overdose.
The report also highlighted differences among various sociodemographic groups in 2021. The following categories of residents had opioid-overdose hospitalization rates that were significantly higher than the rest of the state in 2021:
Residents aged 25-44 and 45-64 years
Male residents
Black (non-Hispanic) and Hispanic residents
Residents living in areas that had higher rates of poverty
PHC4 is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and control the cost of health care in Pennsylvania.
Findings from the report are available at www.phc4.org.
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