The Wright Center’s top executive receives 2023 Pennsylvania Impact Award

Group picture of Dr. Thomas

Representatives of The Wright Centers for Community ʼһ and ʼһ Medical Education, from left, Gerard J. Geoffroy, chairperson, Community ʼһ Board of Directors and immediate past chairperson, Patient & Community Engagement Board of Directors; Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, president and CEO of The Wright Centers for Community ʼһ and ʼһ Medical Education; Laura Spadaro, VP, primary care and public health policy; and Jennifer Walsh, Esq., senior VP, enterprise integrity, executive counsel, and chief governance officer, pose for a picture after the ceremony.

Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, president and CEO of The Wright Centers for Community ʼһ and ʼһ Medical Education, received a 2023 Pennsylvania Impact Award from City & State Pennsylvania magazine, recognizing her leadership in social responsibility.

Dr. Thomas-Hemak, a Lackawanna County native, was one of 75 honorees from across the commonwealth to be chosen by the magazine for its special recognition. She accepted the award during a ceremony in Philadelphia.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to be recognized for living the mission of The Wright Center,” said Dr. Thomas-Hemak. “Together, we are building a preferred future in which everyone will benefit from a health system that prioritizes equity, quality, and affordability of comprehensive primary health care services and career opportunities.”

The Pennsylvania Impact Awards honor residents “who are pillars of sustainability, diversity and inclusion, charity, and community engagement,” according to the publication, known for its coverage of the Keystone State’s business, political, and community leaders.

The publication noted that “there are a lot of ways to make a difference.” For example, the changemakers “have raised funds and galvanized support for patients with Alzheimer’s and autism and for children in need of early intervention.” In addition, “they have programmed software to help Pennsylvanians access ʼһ care and legal services.”

Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, president and CEO of The Wright Centers for Community ʼһ and ʼһ Medical Education, left, poses for a picture with honoree, Clayton Jacobs, executive director, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter, at the ceremony in Philadelphia.

The influential difference-makers included state Sen. Lisa M. Boscola, state Sen. Art Haywood, Associate Professor Teresa Hunter-Pettersen, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine; Clayton Jacobs, executive director, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter; and President Jessica Ritchie, UPMC Pinnacle Foundation.

Under Dr. Thomas-Hemak’s leadership, The Wright Center remains deeply immersed in community engagement activities, routinely collaborating with dozens of regional, state, and national partners on health care and workforce development initiatives. The Wright Center, for example, is spearheading an effort in Northeast Pennsylvania to establish interoperability across multiple hospital, health care, and social services systems, with the goal of giving patients and providers access to timely, actionable health care data to improve patient outcomes.

Dr. Thomas-Hemak also serves as board co-chair of The Wright Center for Patient & Community Engagement, a subsidiary of the health center. The group is active throughout the year in providing material goods and other support to community members challenged by poverty and other negative social determinants of health, such as food insecurity and homelessness.

Earlier this year, Dr. Thomas-Hemak hired the enterprise’s first environmental, social, and governance (ESG) specialist. He is now developing a strategic plan to tailor existing policies and decision-making systems so the enterprise can fulfill its mission while being socially responsible to the community and the planet.

Similarly, The Wright Center’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is evident in the year-round programming offered to employees and community members, including a monthly DEI blog and workshop. An emphasis is currently being placed on fostering a safe, trauma-informed workplace for employees, patients, and visitors.

Dr. Thomas-Hemak, who has served as The Wright Center’s top executive for more than a decade, has helped the health center optimize federal and state resources, allowing it to establish 10 primary and preventive care clinics that collectively serve more than 32,500 patients a year. She also expanded the enterprise’s graduate ʼһ education programs, which now train about 250 resident and fellow physicians annually in eight residency and fellowship programs. These programs attract needed ʼһ expertise, such as behavioral health and specialized geriatric care providers, to the region.

Her leadership has enabled the enterprise to create hundreds of jobs and improve community health. Today, The Wright Center employs about 645 people.

Dr. Thomas-Hemak graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and completed Harvard’s Combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency in Boston, Massachusetts, before returning to Northeast Pennsylvania to practice primary care. She is quadruple board-certified in internal medicine, pediatrics, addiction medicine, and obesity medicine. She directly cares for patients weekly. In April, she began a four-year term as governor for the eastern region of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Physicians.

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