September 27, 2019

Furthering Primary Care, Opioid Treatment, and Medical Education in Pennsylvania

A community in northeast Pennsylvania hard-hit by the opioid crisis will soon see expanded primary care access and medical education, thanks to financing from the Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC).

The Wright Center for Community Health and its affiliated entity, The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education, will expand to a new 41,900-square-foot facility in Scranton, following PCDC’s $9.5 million in New Markets Tax Credit allocation and $2.5 million in debt financing.

In addition to accommodating 7,000 new patients and creating more than 40 full-time jobs, the project will provide teaching space for accredited residency and fellowship programs — ultimately improving access to care nationwide by training and developing more primary care doctors.

“This considerable investment in our community empowers us to substantially expand access to nondiscriminatory, high-quality, affordable, and integrated health services, while we train our future physician leaders and interprofessional workforce,” said Linda Thomas-Hemak, MD, FACP, FAAP [pictured], CEO of The Wright Center for Community Health and President of The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education.

When the project is completed, patients will have access to integrated primary care, nutrition counseling, HIV services, dental, behavioral health and addiction counseling, and OB/GYN and women’s health care under one roof. The practice will be open seven days a week and some evenings to accommodate patient schedules.

Scranton is designated as a Medically Underserved Area by the federal government. Over 41 percent of Scranton residents qualify as low-income, and of those, 87 percent do not regularly access primary care services.

In response to Pennsylvania’s growing opioid crisis, The Wright Center for Community Health became a designated Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence (OUD-COE) in 2016 and a Pennsylvania Coordinated Medication-Assisted Treatment (PacMAT) program in 2018. With the latter designation, the organization helps support a network of local practices through training and mentorship, collectively expanding access to life-saving addiction treatment to a largely rural and underserved population.

Currently serving nearly 20,000 patients across eight locations in northeast Pennsylvania, The Wright Center for Community Health recently became the first practice in the country to be awarded NCQA School-Based Medical Home recognition — a designation developed in part by PCDC.

“The Scranton location will bring quality care to thousands, create high-paying local jobs, and further The Wright Center for Community Health’s larger mission,” said Anne Dyjak, Managing Director of Capital Investment at PCDC. “PCDC wholeheartedly supports this excellent work, and we are glad to be part of this success story.”