Geisinger honored by American Medical Association for promoting well-being of health care workers

 — Geisinger has earned recognition from the American Medical Association (AMA) as a Joy in Medicine™ recognized organization.

The prestigious AMA distinction is granted only to organizations that attest to the rigorous criteria of the Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program and demonstrate a commitment to preserving the well-being of clinical care team members through proven efforts to combat work-related stress and burnout.

“While there is still work to do, this recognition is a testament to our commitment to building a culture that allows our Geisinger family to thrive both personally and professionally,” said Susan Parisi, M.D., chief wellness officer. “When we create change at a system level to truly improve our care team members’ well-being, our patients and our entire Geisinger community benefit. We’re excited to join this collaboration of like-minded organizations where the mental health and well-being of our care team members is a priority, and we’re eager to continue this important work.”

Burnout rates among the nation’s physicians and other health care professionals spiked as the COVID-19 pandemic placed acute stress on care teams and exacerbated long-standing system issues. While the worst days of the pandemic are past, the lingering impact of work-related burnout remains an obstacle to achieving national health goals.

“Health organizations that have earned recognition from the AMA’s Joy in Medicine Health System Recognition Program are leading a national movement that has declared the well-being of health professionals to be an essential element for providing high-quality care to patients, families and communities,” said AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H. “Each Joy in Medicine recognized organization is distinguished as among the nation’s best at creating a culture of wellness that makes a difference in the lives of clinical care teams.”

Geisinger was recognized for its efforts to improve employee well-being through its Center for Professionalism and Well-being (CPW) — a team that offers Geisinger employees a variety of services related to mental health, burnout mitigation, community building, peer support and crisis response. In 2022, Geisinger named Dr. Parisi the health system’s first chief wellness officer to oversee the CPW and guide the implementation of a systemwide strategy to improve the mental health, professional fulfillment and overall well-being of the Geisinger family.

Since its inception in 2019, the Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Programs recognize more than 100 organizations across the country. In 2023, a total of 72 health systems nationwide earned recognition with documented efforts to reduce system-level drivers of work-related burnout and demonstrated competencies in commitment, assessment, leadership, efficiency of practice environment, teamwork and support. 

Learn more about the AMA Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program at //

2023 Dr. Billie Willits Memorial Scholarship Awarded to Holidaysburg Grad/Saint Francis Freshman Gavin Ross

(Altoona, PA)   Gavin Ross, a graduate of Holidaysburg Area High School was awarded the 2023 Dr. Billie Willits Memorial Scholarship from the Skills Foundation.  Now a freshman at Saint Francis University, Ross received $3,000 toward his education from a scholarship fund to benefit the children of employees of Skills of Central Pa.  The annual presentation honors the memory of long time Skills Board Member Dr. Billie Willits. 

Ross maintained a 4.0 grade point average as a Holidaysburg student and was an active volunteer in the community.  As a member of the Key Club, a volunteer for the Women’s Club Food Drive and a volunteer tutor at the Public Library and at his high school, Ross admirably gives back to his community.  In the latest chapter of his academic career, Ross is studying chemistry at Saint Francis University as a full-time student.   

Ross was eligible for the scholarship because his mother, B.J. Johannides, works as a behavior support specialist for Skills of Central Pa in Blair County.  Ross’s application and essay were selected by the scholarship committee of the Skills Foundation, citing several of the factors mentioned above, which made him a deserving recipient. 

The Dr. Billie S. Willits Memorial Scholarship is presented in honor and memory of Dr. Willits who was a member of the Skills of Central Pa Board of Directors for 20 years, including two terms as board chair. Dr. Willits passed away in 2019 and has truly left a void.  She was as a dedicated supporter of the Skills mission as well as the Centre County communities.

The Chamber is excited to announce that the Annual Celebration and Chamber Awards are back

Join the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County for this year’s Annual Celebration and Chamber Awards on Thursday, October 26, 2023. This is where we honor Centre County’s businesses, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Join us as we recognize our member’s outstanding contributions that bolster our region’s economic growth and contribute to a vibrant Centre County. This is a time for us to recognize and celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of our local businesses and those that work to provide impactful innovation to the economic vibrance of our wonderful area. We encourage you to nominate an outstanding business or employee that deserves such a recognition.  Sponsorships are also available.

To see our list of awards and submit a nomination form, secure your reservation or explore sponsorship opportunities click here: Annual Celebration & Awards – Chamber of Business & Industry Centre County (

Two Penn Highlands Healthcare Hospitals Earn National Recognition

Penn Highlands Elk and Penn Highlands Huntingdon have earned five stars from Becker’s Hospital Review for outstanding staff responsiveness. The two hospitals are among 530 in the United States and only 17 in Pennsylvania to earn this distinction.

The Becker’s star rating is based on data collected from hospital patients using Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

“Superior staff responsiveness creates a safer environment, higher patient satisfaction scores and more positive outcomes,” explained Rhonda Halstead, Penn Highlands Healthcare Regional Market President – Central Region, which includes Huntingdon, Blair and Centre counties. “This recognition indicates to our communities that our staff is dedicated to meeting their needs when they come to our hospitals for care.”

Brad Chapman, President of Penn Highlands Elk, shares Mrs. Halstead’s view. “The men and women who provide care at our hospitals are some of the most skilled, caring and compassionate people in this region. “The five-star rating is the stamp of approval that shows our commitment to high-quality care.”


Mount Nittany Health’s Sleep Lab Receives Five-Year Accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Mount Nittany Health is pleased to announce that its Sleep Lab, located within the Sieg Neuroscience Center, was recently awarded a five-year accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). This prestigious recognition acknowledges the Sleep Lab’s commitment to excellence in patient care, and adherence to rigorous quality standards.

Accreditation by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine represents the gold standard for sleep medicine programs, signifying their dedication to providing the highest level of care to patients with sleep disorders.

“The process for accreditation is intense,” said Gregory Ruff, MD, Pulmonary Medicine, Sleep Medicine, and Critical Care, Mount Nittany Health. “The criteria is extremely strict. Many labs that apply have to revise their application several times, and they may only be approved on a provisional status. I am proud that we accomplished the approval on the first attempt.”

This impressive recognition highlights the Sleep Lab’s commitment to maintaining exceptional standards in all aspects of sleep medicine, including clinical care, staffing, and testing protocols. The accreditation process evaluates the lab’s compliance with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Standards for Accreditation, which cover a comprehensive range of areas such as patient safety, equipment, facilities, policies, procedures, and quality assurance.

Mount Nittany Health’s Sleep Lab consistently demonstrated its dedication to patient well-being and the advancement of sleep medicine. The lab is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of experts, including board-certified sleep medicine providers, registered sleep technologists, and skilled support staff. Equipped with modern diagnostic tools and a patient-centered approach, the Sleep Lab provides personalized treatment plans for a wide range of sleep disorders.

To schedule an appointment with one of our sleep specialists, call 814.231.7277. Current Mount Nittany Health patients may also request an appointment online at