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What Determines our Health?

What Determines our Health?

Find out how social determinants of health affect the lives of our region's residents.

Originally Aired Thursday, October 22nd at 8pm

How much does where you live, work, and play effect your health? Research shows social factors like walkability, recreation, and access to healthy food have their own impacts on health, along with medical care. Find out how these social determinants of health affect the lives of our region's residents.


Dr. Denny Dawgert

Associate Professor of Pediatrics

F. Dennis (Denny) Dawgert, MD, was born and raised in Elysburg, Pa. He graduated from The University of Scranton, earning a degree in biology. He graduated from St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1972 and completed his residency at Cardinal Glennon Hospital for Children in St. Louis. His keen interest in preventive medicine and his love for children made pediatrics his lifelong vocation.

Dr. Dawgert is now retired after more than 40 years of maintaining a large private practice in northeast Pennsylvania. He became a clinical faculty member at Geisinger Commonwealth in 2009, taking third-year students on pediatrics rotation into his private practice. He began serving as professor for first- and second-year students in 2013, a position he holds today.

He has been instrumental in educating Geisinger Commonwealth students and the community about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their longterm connection to and influence upon many common and chronic health problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure and addiction, that hamper quality of life and shorten life expectancy. ACEs are also linked to increases in learning disabilities, incarceration and other psychosocial issues.

For more than 15 years, Dr. Dawgert has made an annual medical mission trip to Mandeville, Jamaica. In the past few years, a cohort of Geisinger Commonwealth Sidari Global Health award recipients have accompanied him to learn how to deliver excellent care in resource-limited environments. Dr. Dawgert has been married to his wife Grace for 50 years. He has four daughters and eight grandchildren.

Janine Fortney

Director, Children’s Center, FSA of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties

Janine Fortney has been practicing for 23 years as a Licensed Social Worker. Her work experience spans a multitude of social sector arenas.

Janine was hired by Family Service Association of NEPA in May 2015 to develop the practices, policies and procedures of the Children’s Center of Susquehanna & Wyoming Counties. The Children’s Center is a Child Advocacy Center located in Montrose PA. The purpose is to work collaboratively with other disciplines such as law enforcement, Children and Youth Service Agencies, District Attorneys, Victim Advocate Organizations, Medical providers, and Mental Health Providers to enhance the CAC model and utilize the multi-disciplinary approach developed through the CAC model. The Center provides comprehensive services to children who have alleged some type of abuse or traumatic event. The Children’s Center is a member of the Pennsylvania Chapter of CAC’s and MDITS as well as an Associate member of the National Children’s Alliance. Janine has been trained and currently conducts the Forensic Interviews at the center for children who have alleged some type of abuse. Janine participates in collaborative programming with community organizations in both counties and sits on the Child Abuse Coalition committee for Susquehanna County.

Janine and her staff have been developing outreach and educational programming to promote awareness about the Children’s Center as well as informing people in these communities about child abuse signs, symptoms and prevention. We work with the local school districts to present educational materials to their staff and students K-9 grades annually.

Teri Ooms

Executive Director, The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development

Teri Ooms was appointed Executive Director of The Institute in 2004. The Institute provides essential research, data analysis, and consultation to the private, public, non-profit, and institutional sectors. The Institute is a partnership of 13 higher education institutions and the business community. The Institute publishes the regional annual Indicators report, Quarterly Economy Tracker, and convenes, facilitates and provides research support for seven issue based task forces with over 100 volunteers. Several of The Institute’s research studies have served as a basis for new Pennsylvania legislation.

Ooms is responsible for research, development, and operation functions. The Institute has conducted research, marketing, feasibility, planning, and economic studies for organizations throughout Pennsylvania, New York and Texas. From 1997 – 2004, Ooms served as President/CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP), Riverside, CA

Rachel Francis

Vice President of Quality; Performance Measurement & Improvement, Beacon Health Options

Rachel Francis, PhD is the Vice President of Quality; Performance Measurement & Improvement for Beacon Health Options. Trained as a clinician, she has over 15 years of experience in Mental Health, Health Promotion, Strategic Planning, and Data Science. She also works as a Part-Time Faculty for the University of Scranton teaching courses in Community Health and Health Promotion. In her current role, Rachel leads the implementations of SDOH focused pilot projects across the nation and chairs a national committee to strategically develop interventions related to reducing disparities in outcomes by leveraging data-driven approaches to strategically target high priority social determinants of health needs. Her SDoH focus areas include housing and food security initiatives, screening and assessment intervention-based programming, and access barriers to mental health treatment.

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