Top state legislator stops in Scranton
While in Scranton on Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s House Speaker Joanna McClinton dove into critical issues in healthcare.
She toured Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine and also was part of a panel for a special on-location edition of WVIA’s Keystone Edition Reports.
McClinton, medical school president and dean Dr. Julie Byerley and Dr. Maria Montoro Edwards, President & CEO of Maternal and Family Health Services, discussed WIC Services, gun violence legislation and getting kids interested in medical careers at an early age.
While in Scranton, McClinton learned from the high school students who are involved in career preparation with the medical school, like the successful REACH-HEI program.
“I think that the pathways program that Geisinger has is something that needs to be replicated by all the medical schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," said McClinton.
Maternal Family Health Services is the largest provider of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in the state. They serve 17 counties and about 50,000 people per month, said Montoro Edwards. She pointed out one hurdle families in Pennsylvania face to access WIC benefits.
"Even during the pandemic mom had to come physically in every quarter to have her WIC card loaded," she said.
That stuck with McClinton.
"The government plays a major role in removing the barriers and making sure there's more access," she said after the panel.
McClinton and her colleagues have sent 150 pieces of legislation to the Pennsylvania Senate, including the Extreme Risk Protection Act.
Under the act, if a person is in a mental health crisis, a court can temporarily agree to remove their firearms. That way they're not a danger to themselves or the community, McClinton said.
When asked about the future of Pennsylvania, McClinton pointed to all the younger leaders, like herself, who are serving the Commonwealth. Her fellow legislators are from all walks of life, she said.
"Our future looks bright," she said. "We have people that are energetic, compassionate, that want to be effective leaders, and it's very inspiring."
McClinton said serving as the first female and first African American female Speaker of the PA House is the honor of her life.
"There were 142 men that precede me," she said. "It's my goal to lead in a way so effective, that there can be 142 women to succeed man that not be a strange thing.”
The edition of Keystone Edition Report will air Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. on WVIA-TV. It is also available to stream online.