Community briefs

From left, The Wright Center for Community Health care team members Sydney Rentsch, community health worker; Keri Macknosky, certified community health worker; Kari Machelli, R.N., director of case and care management services; Kayla Kincel, community health worker; and Whitney Cooper, community health worker. The Wright Center received an $8,000 grant from the Robert H. Spitz Foundation to support community medicine efforts.

Libraries issue ‘Reading Challenge’

Lackawanna County Library System wants to know if you’re up for the challenge — the Winter Reading Challenge, that is.

The challenge, which lasts through Feb. 26, is open to kids and adults at all county libraries, including Carbondale Public Library and Valley Community Library. This year’s theme is “Reading Takes You Places.”

Participants can register at and participate virtually or pick up a form from any LCLS location.

Participants must complete a certain amount of tasks in each of the Winter Challenge categories, including reading a book that features time travel, is about a refugee, or is set within 100 miles of your location. Other challenges includ: learning a new recipe from another culture, watching a documentary about a place you’ve never been, or discovering a new artist and their work.

Those who participate will be entered into a raffle for a lottery basket wreath. Each library in Lackawanna County has a different-themed wreath. Those participating virtually will be entered automatically, while those participating with paper forms will need to return their sheet to their library by Feb. 26.

Grant to help Wright Center patients

The Wright Center for Community Health has received an $8,000 grant from the Robert H. Spitz Foundation to help its community health workers assist patients who are coping with a variety of hardships that can impact their health care, according to a press release.

Grant funding will be used to help individuals overcome economic barriers, such as lack of nutritious food or transportation to medical appointments, so patients can focus on addressing health issues. The Wright Center’s community health workers will also connect patients with a variety of community resources, including GED programs and job training.

The Robert H. Spitz Foundation, a registered nonprofit organization that supports initiatives and programs serving the residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania, is administered by the Scranton Area Community Foundation. Spitz was born in Scranton and was a 1955 graduate of Scranton Central High School and the University of Miami. Before retirement, Spitz had been employed by the U.S. Department of Labor and owned several local restaurants. The Robert H. Spitz Foundation was established from his estate in 2015.

The Wright Center was one of 42 nonprofit organizations in Northeast Pennsylvania selected to receive grants during the Spitz Foundation’s 2020 funding cycle, which collectively distributed $771,000.

Geisinger recognized by heart groups

Geisinger has been recognized by the American Heart Association and American Medical Association for commitment to helping improve blood pressure and cholesterol control rates among adult patients, according to a press release.

Through participation in the AHA and AMA’s Target BP initiative, Geisinger has earned Gold-level recognition. The Gold award recognizes health care organizations that have 70% or more of their adult patient population with high blood pressure controlled.

Geisinger has also earned Gold-level recognition through participation in the AHA’s Check. Change. Control. Cholesterol initiative. The Gold award recognizes health care organizations that have 70% or more of their adult patient population at risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease appropriately managed with statin therapy.

“Our primary care teams are profoundly dedicated to preventing, identifying and treating chronic conditions. Their work around management of these conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, is a testament to their practice and the patients they serve,” Stacei Faust, quality program coordinator for Geisinger Care Gaps said in the press release. “It’s an honor to be recognized for that work by the AHA and AMA, and my pleasure to work alongside these remarkable colleagues.”

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a leading risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and preventable death in the United States. There are 116 million U.S. adults living with high blood pressure, and less than half of those people have it under control – making diagnosing and effectively managing hypertension critical.

Cardiovascular disease remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the U.S., with an estimated 92.1 million adults having at least one type of cardiovascular disease that can lead to heart attack, stroke or death. The use of statin therapy for the prevention of ASCVD in many higher-risk patients is supported by an extensive body of evidence, but many patients who might benefit from this therapy go untreated or undertreated, according to the AHA.

“We recognize how important aggressive and early treatment of chronic conditions like hypertension and hyperlipidemia is in preventing disease progression and serious complications like heart attack, stroke and kidney disease,” said Cybele Pacheco, M.D., director of community cedicine in Geisinger’s west region. “Prevention and team-based management of chronic diseases is our focus in primary care, and it shows the collaborative work among our Geisinger teams.”

Johnson College gets state grant

Johnson College was one of 42 Pennsylvania colleges and universities awarded a grant through Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s “It’s On Us PA” initiative.

The $30,000 grant will help Johnson College improve campus awareness regarding sexual violence among students, faculty and staff, according to an announcement from the school.

The funds will help create an updated curriculum module for all students on the college’s Desire2Learn learning management system. The college will review current institutional policies, processes and resources available for reporting sexual violence and serving the needs of potential victims with a Pennsylvania Title IX consultant who will make recommendations for improved compliance and reporting.

The grant will also support updated training for the college’s Title IX coordinator and staff to be sure that Johnson College is following best practice operations.

The college’s mission is to be proactive in making students, faculty and staff fully aware of the issue of sexual violence, how to report and what resources are available to assist those in need. Additional grant activities will include a campus-wide It’s On Us event in the spring where students, faculty and staff will be encouraged to take the It’s On Us pledge against campus violence.

“Our goal is to maintain the excellent record of low to no incidents of sexual violence on our campus,” said Dr. Katie Leonard, Johnson College president & CEO. “Should the need arise, we want to be proactively prepared to comply with Pennsylvania law. The It’s On Us grant will help us accomplish these goals.”

Since 2016, the Wolf Administration has awarded 150 It’s On Us PA grants totaling nearly $4 million to more than 70 post-secondary institutions, including public and private two-year and four-year colleges and universities.