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Gold Humanism Honor Society Service Project

"Stories have always been a part of our lives."

"Even as medical students, immersed in the clinical and scientific world, we realized that stories connect us to patients and to each other. For our project as part of the Gold Humanism Honor Society at Temple, but as campus students at Geisinger, we wanted to do a narrative medicine project that highlighted the stories of the community where we had received the most important training of medical school. And we wanted to talk to people on various fields that make up healthcare, such as the chaplain, volunteers — people who take care of patients inside and outside the hospital. Listening to each person's life experience has been a privilege."
- Minnu Suresh and Heather Gochnauer, both members of Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University's MD Class of 2020


Geisinger Stories

Megan Longenberger and Stacey Fenstermacher

Medical Education Coordinators
Undergraduate Medical Education

Stacey: I was hired in October 1999 and just celebrated my 20-year anniversary with Geisinger. I earned my dental assisting certificate from Luzerne County Community College in June of that year and this was my first job as a dental assistant. In 2008, I continued my education and received an Expanded Functions Dental Assisting certificate from Keystone Technical Institute.

In my 12 years as a dental assistant, I worked with general and pediatric dentists, orthodontists and oral surgeons. I developed a passion for pediatric dentistry, the procedures, working with children and the fast-paced environment. I also learned how to assist with procedures in the operating room.

In 2010, the pediatric dentistry department received approval to start a pediatric dentistry residency program. I was asked to work as the program coordinator in addition to my dental assisting duties. Working as a residency coordinator provided me with the opportunity to learn a new skill set and gain experience and knowledge I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to gain. I especially like organizing events and schedules and using my experience to find new ways to make processes more streamlined. Eventually the responsibilities of residency coordinator became a full-time position and I worked in this capacity for 7 years. During this time, I also helped to coordinate the application and implementation of an oral and maxillofacial surgery residency program.
I transferred to my current role in the Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) office 3 years ago. I truly love to be a part of helping the medical students and watching them grow during their clinical rotations at Geisinger. I grew up in the Bloomsburg area and currently live in the Catawissa area. I am married and have two daughters, Eliza (14) and Leah (11).
Megan: I have been working here in the UME office for 7 years. I started in August of 2012 and have been with the Education Department since I started. I love working with the medical students and seeing them grow during the time they are with us. I grew up in Williamsport on a dairy farm, which kept us busy growing up. I worked on the farm every day, going out and feeding cows. I went to Bloomsburg University and received my degree in Business Management and Human Resources. I got married in 2011 and had my son in 2015… I’ve enjoyed the past 7 years. I don’t see myself going anywhere else. It is a great department to work for… Everyone that I’ve talked with here seems happy.
Stacey: The Education Department is family-focused and the leadership appreciates their employees. I wouldn’t want to leave the department.
Megan: My husband travels a lot for his job, so having family and a great daycare really helps. You definitely need to find that balance, though, because family life can be as stressful as work life. It’s not always easy to go home to relax because you need to take care of the family. You definitely need to be able to find that “me” time!
Stacey: When our girls were younger, my husband and I worked different shifts… He was home during the day and that was a huge help. When I would get home from work, we would briefly say hi and he would leave for work. It was difficult to juggle work and home, especially when the kids got involved in activities. Having supportive family and trusted friends helped us over the years, and we relied heavily on each other. The saying is true: It really does take a village to raise a child.
Stacey: I see [Megan] more than I see my husband.
Megan: I enjoy working with Stacey. We have a very good bond on a personal level which also helps when it comes to solving day-to-day work tasks. We rely on each other and value each other’s opinions.
Stacey: I couldn’t ask for a better coworker. She is kind, knowledgeable and organized. She has taught me a lot and I definitely could not do it without her.

TyAnn Schneider, LPN, CCDS

Clinical Documentation Improvement

I had worked in pediatric utilization review for four years prior to applying for the clinical documentation position. I have been with clinical documentation for 11 years. I met Dr. [James] Blankenship through core measure meetings, and he mentioned he would like someone to round with his cardiology team to capture appropriate documentation. He asked me if I would do it. It was a trial, because no one in the clinical documentation department had been a part of rounding at this point. I was placed with Cardiology Team A and have been with them for the past 9 years. I really enjoy it. My favorite part of the workday is rounding with them. I learn a lot and have met interesting people. Residents rotate monthly through all the hospital service teams — each year they spend a month with cardiology, and longer if they do a cardiology fellowship. This helps build a relationship and trust between the resident and clinical documentation specialist. Some of the current attendings I have known since they were residents.
The goal of the department was to get out there and be face to face with the physicians. I absolutely have noticed changes since starting rounding. Before rounding with teams, I was sitting at my desk on the computer and sending messages through email. Some messages were not addressed because the provider did not understand the impact of proper documentation. With the rapport that I have developed, they know who I am and what I’m doing and are much more engaged when I have questions. The focus isn’t just for billing for reimbursement — it’s for accuracy, risk adjusters and representation of severity or illness and risk of mortality.
On Geisinger: It was the smartest career change I have made. Unless I move, I plan to stay at Geisinger — there are great opportunities and benefits. I have the ability to work from home if needed, so I have a great work-life balance. I am working on my RN degree.

Rebecca Stoudt, DNP, PhD, CRNA

Associate Dean of Nursing Student Education
Director of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) Services

My undergrad was at Valparaiso University in Indiana. My parents were old-fashioned and thought women couldn’t be anything but nurses or teachers. I wanted to be a physician or engineer, but went to school for nursing. I met my husband right after graduation and moved to Pittsburgh after we married. I was working as a critical care nurse in a CICU in Pittsburgh when a post-op open heart patient came from surgery and a provider had CRNA on her badge. I asked what it was and knew instantly it was what I wanted to do with my life. Within a year I was in anesthesia school and ended up graduating at the top of my class. I had found my calling. I got my master’s in anesthesia at the University of Pittsburgh, and later my doctorate in nursing administration from Chatham University and nursing education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
I love the care we give [at Geisinger]… It’s big-city medicine in a rural community. Everybody here cares about our patients and each other, from the housekeepers to the CEO. There are so many career opportunities, it doesn’t pigeonhole you if you have aspirations to expand your horizons. My new job is as associate dean of Nursing Student Education at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine — something I never pictured having the opportunity to do in my wildest dreams. That's another reason I love it here — if you have an itch, Geisinger can scratch it. You can do clinical care, research, education, administration or various combinations. The avenues are here. My goal is to do the best I can where I’m at to make a difference. I don’t have huge aspirations — there’s too much anxiety in that. I bloom where I’m fortunate to be planted and do my best for others.
In my previous position I was charged with spreading TeamSTEPPS at Geisinger, at every single hospital in the OR, OB, EDs, ICUs and PACUs. I trained over 200 master trainers and worked with the American Hospital Association and the University of Washington to create our own TeamSTEPPS model. I also helped with a TeamSTEPPS club at the medical college and currently work with the simulation team. TeamSTEPPS is integrated in simulation there at all levels, with groups of med students using a train-the-trainer technique for others year after year.
I have to say, though, my favorite part of the week is my one day when I still give anesthesia. Taking care of people is why I went into healthcare. Overall, I get the most fulfillment knowing that I’m making a difference no matter which hat I'm wearing. I feel fortunate to know I make a difference in patient and student lives with the opportunities I've been given. 

Robert Tamburro, MD, MSc

Pediatric Palliative Care

First and foremost, [palliative care doctors] treat symptoms. Secondly, we try to identify goals of care. Third, we help with care coordination, help with complex decision-making. Should be part of any doc’s repertoire. The goal in my practice is to do some of that, but also to educate and empower people to do that for their patients.
My spin on palliative care is to not take away hope. Let’s do things to turn things around, but don’t lose sight of what’s happening; let’s accept reality. Don’t let children suffer.
[Geisinger is unique] with the focus on family care. We talk to families here. Family comfort is a high priority. Care that is provided is extremely high quality, but in an environment that is family-supportive. Parking is free here, unlike what they experience at other locations. Docs have rapport with their patients, particularly the complex, chronic kids.
Humor is really important. Have the family take a break. But I have to be careful, it’s from knowing a family and developing the idea that there's a bit of humor that can be used.
On coping with a demanding career: [My] kids don’t want to hear about the number of [cardiac] arrests that day; it only mattered that I was walking in the door. They wanted my undivided attention. That was therapy for me. And good colleagues... And slushies.
I shared an abuse case recently with a colleague who is not in medicine who said, “That’s completely unacceptable.” I think being able to share things with people that don’t have medical knowledge is helpful.
I remember words from an attending years ago while I was training: “It’s romantic working in the hospital. People like nurses and family are very glad to see you. But anybody can do your job at the hospital. Not anybody can be a father to your kids, a husband to your wife, a brother to your sibling.” That has stuck with me as very sage advice.

Alicia Beachy

Associate Program Manager
Fresh Food Farmacy®

Fresh Food Farmacy began with six patients. We looked at community needs and found that the strongest population of people with diabetes inside our geography was in Shamokin, Lewistown and Scranton. Food insecurity and diabetes correlate together. We connected with providers in the Shamokin area to give us their most disengaged patients, with whom they’ve tried everything and can’t get a buy-in. We were able to show clinical improvement in those pilot patients and sharing results, asked providers to give us more. We grew from there.

Initially we were purchasing at grocery stores and meeting patients in convenient locations to hand off the healthy foods. Then we were gifted space on the Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital campus, which could be changed to a food pantry. Initially, we anticipated moving to max volume very quickly and thought we’d have to turn patients away, but people were reluctant to accept the program assistance at first. This was because the population in Shamokin are were not used to utilizing social programming available to them. We have had a similar experience in Lewistown. We have called patients and they think it’s fraud. That it’s too good to be true. Both the populations in Shamokin and Lewistown are comprised of those with family helping family. They help each other and take care of each other. There’s not a lot of social programming.

At many of the Diabetes Self-Management Program series, in all three locations, people do not want to look at each other. Initially most have an “I don’t want to be here” attitude. But through the evidenced-based series they realize that everyone attending the class or in the programming are in the same boat. It is evident in most classes that participants have developed social support structures within the program and education. During one series, at the second-to-last class, one of the patients was running late. He arrived and went to use the restroom. The other patients suggested that we needed to connect the late patient with behavioral health services, because they had learned outside of class that he had lost a person in his life and they were concerned about him. That social support structure is seen often and in many ways during and after our classes.

Not only is the Fresh Food Farmacy seeing clinical results such as A1c reduction and weight loss, we are also seeing drops in blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, and improvements in behavioral health. While all of our care team members existed inside Geisinger before the Fresh Food Farmacy, we brought all these services under one umbrella and have wrapped each patient in the services and education they need for long term success.

Carolyn Miller

Volunteer Services

Carolyn received the Lifetime Achievement Award for 4,000 hours of service and has now reached nearly 8,000 hours of volunteer service at Geisinger Medical Center.
[My daughters] said “Get out of the house.” I was a stay-at-home mom and they said… “Come here [to Geisinger].” That was in 1998.
On her favorite thing about volunteering: Chatting with friends. You know, the other volunteers become friends. When you meet people in the hospital that need direction, you as a volunteer know about where things are and can help them… I worry about the time when I will be unable to be here. It’s fun for us. You get it, you know people. Most people start after they retire. I worry about when I won’t be able to come in here.
Being in a rural area, it’s nice you have all the advantages of a city — but none of the city, because I really don’t like cities. I’ve been to Pittsburgh, and I had to drive out of there and look for a way to get out of the city and try to figure out where I was. I’m not a city person. All the advantages of the city as far as healthcare — without the city.
The pace seems a lot easier here. The air is cleaner… It’s just sort of laid back. The traffic is not terrible. Being in traffic for hours...I think it’s a waste of time. [The people] are generally friendly. It’s a lot of family…
People that are retired should consider coming in here and volunteering. It’s worthwhile. We are looking for volunteers.

Reverend Kathleen “Kay” D. Korpics, MDiv

Staff Chaplain

In April of 2018 I decided I was done in corporate America. I had a very successful career, 6-figure income, and climbed the corporate ladder… I had been going to school working on my Master of Divinity degree. I knew I wanted to go into spiritual care…I reached the point where I got up and dreaded going to work every day. I was getting to the point where I needed to complete the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training program as a requirement for my ordination...Someone recommended Tampa General Hospital as a place to do CPE. So I thought, “I’m going to go for it,” and I went to Tampa to do a 3-month summer internship.
From August of ‘18 to August of ’19, I did a CPE residency at Tampa General, which is a Level 1 trauma center. There is just something about being able to walk with people when they are facing one of the most horrific times in their life. That experience made me realize that my passion is working at a Level 1 trauma center. When I was looking for a place to go after my residency, I decided to cast a wide net.
Geisinger popped up. I had experience in pediatrics, and they had an opening for a staff chaplain in PICU, NICU, Pediatrics and Labor & Delivery… I looked at a lot of things about the company on the website and I did a lot of research. Their commitment to diversity and inclusion was a big thing for me. That’s why I'm here at Geisinger. It is a Level 1 trauma center and it is dedicated to diversity. I work in a department that is committed to being spiritually and culturally inclusive. We have an interfaith chapel that has amazing space shared by people of different religious faiths and traditions. We even have a space for meditation as well. It’s not just about religion, we are spiritually diverse.
A lot of people have this idea that the role of the chaplain is to just pray with people, and that is one of our roles if that's what the patient or family needs and wants. But we do more than just pray, and we are not just here for the patients. We are here for their family members, as well as Geisinger staff.
I lost my brother — he died when I was 5. That was a life-changing event for my family. I would say that when my brother died my father died emotionally and spiritually with him. I think that was one of the things I feared when going into CPE. How am I going to be able to help other people going through the same thing I did? I was called to baptize a baby who had died. The family had put him in this little blue outfit, and he looked like my brother...and I cried… and I didn’t say “I know how you're feeling,” because I didn’t... But what I was able to do was find the strength within me to baptize him and walk alongside them in their grief.
It is hard work, but it's necessary work and I think as long as I do a good job maintaining healthy boundaries for me and maintaining self-care practices. That's how I'll be able to keep doing what I'm doing… the necessary work… I think having that kind of mindset and those set of tools is necessary for anyone in healthcare…When I go out to my car, I have this ritual. I have a place where I take off my badge and the keys to my office. And I leave that stuff there. And part of that is having trust in my team members who are here after I leave. I trust that they can take care of an infant that is about to die. A lot of it is my own self-awareness and self-development that I am now okay with trusting… Every night I take a bubble bath. That's a really sacred time and space for me. That ceremonial ritual of cleansing the day is important to me.
I have a close-knit group of people. I call them my tribe. For the last 20 years we have been friends… The Chardonnay Bible Club — CBC for short — evolved into a group of spiritually connected women. We help each other get through life. 

Maria Qureshi, MD

Internal Medicine PGY3

When I was a teenager, I really wanted to go away from [being a doctor]. The more I experimented and shadowed people in other professions, the more I kept coming back to medicine. I finally stopped being a stubborn teenager and shadowed someone in medicine and loved it.
It’s such a rewarding profession in so many interfaces in your life. You get the academic component where you get to think, use your brain to solve these puzzles. And then there’s this human component where you meet someone and you get the chance to build these connections. You get to sit down with patients, people really open up to you, intimately.
Especially in our [Geisinger internal medicine] residency, there’s a lot of camaraderie between the residents and they have a very positive work environment here… Here was the place where the residents seemed happy.
Mainly, it is the people... there’s two sides. There’s the patient base that lives here and has engaged with Geisinger over so many years. They’ve given the hospital the ability to grow. And then there’s the employees. It’s not a convenient location for a hospital. It’s this random place and it’s people on both sides of the equation that make it successful.

Megan Longenberger (left) and Stacey Fenstermacher (right)
Megan Longenberger and Stacey Fenstermacher
TyAnn Schneider, LPN, CCDS
TyAnn Schneider, LPN, CCDS
Rebecca Stoudt, DNP, PhD, CRNA
Rebecca Stoudt, DNP, PhD, CRNA
Robert Tamburro, MD, MSc
Robert Tamburro, MD, MSc
Alicia Beachy
Alicia Beachy
Carolyn Miller
Carolyn Miller
Reverend Kathleen “Kay” D. Korpics, MDiv
Reverend Kathleen “Kay” D. Korpics, MDiv
Maria Qureshi, MD
Maria Qureshi, MD