Friends Of MFHS

2018 MFHS Champion Award: Karen Murphy, PhD

The Maternal and Family Health Services Champion Award is given to an exemplary individual who is an innovative force for good in the community. This year, we are honored to award Dr. Karen Murphy the title of MFHS Champion. Karen Murphy, PhD, is an extraordinarily accomplished leader in the field of healthcare, currently serving as Executive Vice President, Chief Innovation Officer, and Founding Director of Geisinger’s Steele Institute for Healthcare Innovation.

In her leadership role at Geisinger, and throughout her unique career, Dr. Murphy has embodied tireless dedication to the continual improvement of healthcare delivery to those in need in our community. In addition to her expansive responsibilities with Geisinger’s Steele Institute for Healthcare Innovation, Dr. Murphy utilizes her talents and intellect to educate. She works as a faculty member at Geisinger’s Commonwealth School of Medicine, and she is a published author and public speaker on topics including healthcare innovation.

Before working at Geisinger, Dr. Murphy held numerous other prestigious positions at exceptional healthcare institutions. She served as President and CEO of Moses Taylor Health Care System, and Director of the State Innovation Models Initiative at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Dr. Murphy previously worked as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, showing her unending interest in both public and private health concerns.

Through all of her roles, Dr. Murphy has always been a champion for Maternal & Family Health Services, as well as for women and children in our community. When the MFHS maternity program in Scranton was moving from CMC to Moses Taylor, Karen stepped in alongside another former MFHS Champion, Barb Bossi, to ensure the transition was seamless for the families enrolled. With their support, there was no interruption in care for any of the mothers in our maternity program.

MFHS congratulates Dr. Murphy on her tremendous work throughout her career, and we look forward to seeing how her innovative mindset will continue to improve the lives of those in our community.




Senator Lisa Baker Receives Force for Good Public Policy Award

Maternal & Family Health Services (MFHS), in conjunction with the national office of their program, the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), awarded the Force for Good Public Policy Award to Pennsylvania State Senator Lisa Baker (R-Lehman).

Baker, who is serving her third term representing the 20th Senatorial District, successfully advocated for increasing the state appropriation for Nurse-Family Partnership from $11.9 million last year to $13.1 million in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Through Baker’s extraordinary support and leadership, Maternal & Family Health Services will be able to expand the Nurse-Family Partnership program to improve health outcomes for more moms and babies in poverty.

“While we commonly praise the importance of the mother-child bond after birth, it is much harder to provide families living in poverty with the practical means for making good, healthy choices,” said Senator Baker. “For many years, I have seen what a blessing it is to have a caring and committed group, as the partnership is, so involved in making a difference in our communities.  This is a vital program with proven results and well deserving of the level of state support we have been able to achieve,” continued Baker.

Maternal & Family Health Services began offering the Nurse-Family Partnership program to first time mothers in Lackawanna and Wayne counties in 2002, and the program and has since expanded into Luzerne and Susquehanna counties. This nurse-home-visitor program guides at-risk, first-time mothers through pregnancy and offers support during the first two years of the child’s life.

Baker learned about Nurse-Family Partnership while working for former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge whose wife, Michele Ridge, championed the program as part of her Community Partnership for Safe Kids initiative.

Later, while serving as executive director of the Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Baker worked with the Northeastern Nurse-Family Partnership Collaborative to help expand its program. She continues to be an advocate for NFP as the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

The Nurse-Family Partnership Force for Good Public Policy Award recognizes elected officials for making a difference for families in poverty. Dr. David Olds, founder of Nurse-Family Partnership, describes the impact of Nurse-Family Partnership as a force for good that changes the future for two generations.

Over 40 years of evidence show that Nurse-Family Partnership improves birth outcomes, child development and school readiness, reduces child abuse and neglect and juvenile crime, among other outcomes.

According to the RAND Corporation, every $1 invested in Nurse-Family Partnership can yield up to $5.70 in return for the highest-risk families served.

2018 Youth Partner Award: Maureen Maher-Gray

At this year’s annual meeting and community luncheon, MFHS will present Maureen Maher-Gray with the Youth Partner Award. This award is given to an individual who serves as a champion for teens and young adults, taking great measures to satisfy a need for the disenfranchised in our community. Her groundbreaking work in developing the NEPA Youth Shelter exemplifies her dedication to providing a safe, welcoming resource for teens.

Nearly a decade ago Ms. Maher-Gray relocated to Northeast Pennsylvania from Washington, almost immediately becoming an active member of the community, working as a realtor for a local company. She engaged in in political advocacy as part of the 2012 election cycle, encouraging impressive voter turnout in her district.

Maureen Maher-Gray later worked in a role that enabled her to understand the lack of resources for local at-risk teenagers. At the time of her discovery, the nearest youth shelter was in Allentown, and teens traveling long distances to reach the shelter were susceptible to becoming victims of crimes like human trafficking. This disturbing news lead her to establish the nonprofit organization NEPA Youth Shelter in 2016.

Since the organization’s creation, Maher-Gray has opened a drop-in center for teens in downtown Scranton. The NEPA Youth Shelter Teen Drop-In Center serves a safe place for at-risk teens to go after school. At the center, teens can do homework, socialize, and rest; the center also provides clothing, school supplies, food, and job resources for those who need them. An MFHS Reproductive Health Educator frequents the drop-in center weekly to provide reliable, accurate health information to the teens.

Reactions to the drop-in shelter have been extremely positive. An average of 35 teens visit the center each day, knowing that it a safe and enjoyable place to go after school. Ms. Maher-Gray, Executive Director of the NEPA Youth Shelter, plans to open an overnight youth shelter to continue making strides for teens in our community. Thank you Maureen for your continued commitment to the youth of Northeast Pennsylvania and congratulations!

MFHS CEO Bette Saxton Appointed to PA Dept of Health Committee

Maternal and Family Health Services announces that Bette Cox Saxton, MFHS President and CEO, has been appointed to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee.

The Maternal Mortality Review Committee works to evaluate cases of maternal death in the state in order to better understand the causes. By better understanding the causes of these deaths, the committee then reports on methods of increased awareness and prevention. The insights of the committee are distributed to government officials and healthcare providers, with the goal of preventing future maternal deaths.

Ms. Saxton has been the President and CEO of MFHS for over 13 years, during which time she has worked tirelessly to create and enhance programs that serve disenfranchised women and children in Northeast Pennsylvania. In addition, she has also utilized her sense of drive, compassion, and leadership in different roles with many local and national organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, the Pennsylvania Coalition to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, the Pennsylvania Adolescent Health Task Force, and the Maternal and Child Health Advisory Committee for Pennsylvania. Through her extensive community involvement, Bette Cox Saxton has established herself as a dedicated, outstanding candidate for the Maternal Mortality Review Committee.

2018 Rose Allan Tucker Award: Kristen Topolski

At the 47th Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors of Maternal and Family Health Services, we will be honoring Kristen Topolski with the Rose Allan Tucker Award. Each year, the Rose Allan Tucker Award is presented to a distinguished individual who embodies the tremendous character of the award’s namesake. Rose Allan Tucker was a champion for women’s health in our community, devoting her life to working to improve access and care to women in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Kristen Topolski exemplifies this compassionate spirit, especially through her innovative efforts for both Ruth’s place and Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania. Ms. Topolski established Ruth’s Place, a local women’s shelter, with the hope to provide basic necessities like food and shelter to women in need in Northeast Pennsylvania; the shelter goes far beyond those basic necessities, however, providing women with access to healthcare and resources to help them obtain employment and permanent housing.

Through the creation and management of the only women’s shelter in Luzerne County, Kristen Topolski revealed her altruistic drive that motivates her to create new ways to help families in our community. She continued this mission by becoming Director of Wilkes-Barre Programming at Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania. In her leadership role as a director, Ms. Topolski is challenged to find new opportunities to make a difference in the lives of local children and families. Programs she has developed include housing support, a food pantry, and resources for pregnant and new mothers.

Thank you Kristen for your hard work and dedication to the women and children of Northeast Pennsylvania, and congratulations!


MFHS Seeking Nominations for 2018 Rose Allan Tucker Award

Maternal and Family Health Services is seeking nominations for the Rose Allan Tucker Award, which will be presented at the agency’s 47th Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors on October 17th at the Westmoreland Club in Wilkes-Barre.

The late Rose Tucker was a former Luzerne County Commissioner and long-time employee of MFHS. She dedicated her life to public service as a community leader, political activist, health advocate, and champion for women, children and families in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She opened doors for women to take leadership roles in the community and extended herself to help those in need.

Since 1996, MFHS has celebrated her legacy by presenting the Rose Tucker Award to a person who demonstrates a deep commitment to improving the quality of life for women, children and families in Northeastern Pennsylvania. With her passing in 2009, the Rose Tucker Award has taken on even greater significance as it helps keep her legacy alive and serves as a reminder of Rose Tucker’s great contributions to the community.

Nominees for the award should demonstrate a long-term commitment to improving the quality of life in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and a significant positive impact on the health and welfare of women, children and families.

Nomination forms are available on our Annual Meeting page or by calling 1-800-367-6347. Deadline for submissions is August 27th, 2018.

August 1st-7th is World Breastfeeding Week!

Starting Wednesday, August 1st, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) will host World Breastfeeding Week 2018, a global initiative aimed at educating and promoting the multifaceted benefits of mothers breastfeeding their babies. The three areas of emphasis regarding this year’s World Breastfeeding Week are “(1) preventing malnutrition in all its forms, (2) ensuring food security, even in times of crisis, and (3) breaking the cycle of poverty.” These three focal points are significant ways that breastfeeding can have a positive impact on societies across the globe.

Breastfeeding is a cost-free, environmentally-free way to give your baby all the nutrition he or she needs. Breastfeeding has a significant positive impact on both mother and baby, with health, social, and economic benefits. Some of the health benefits for baby include prevention of malnutrition and increased immunity from certain illnesses; other benefits are improved intelligence and emotional bonding with the mother. Benefits for a breastfeeding mother include reduced risk of certain cancers and hypertension. WABA, and related organizations like UNICEF, advocate for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by supplementing until 2 years of age.

At Maternal and Family Health Services, we foster a positive, judgment-free environment in which new moms can learn how to safely breastfeed their babies. All MFHS WIC Nutrition Centers provide clients with breastfeeding education and support. And numerous WIC Nutrition locations participate in the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program. This program gives breastfeeding WIC moms the opportunity to receive support and tips from a former client who previously breastfed and is now a passionate advocate. We strive to inform families in Northeast Pennsylvania about breastfeeding as the perfect infant food, and change public perceptions about breastfeeding.


Thank You Sun Buick GMC for Sponsoring our 2018 Hole-In-One Contest

Pictured: Jim Schilling, MFHS Development & Communications Officer, and Lori Guitson, Owner, Sun Buick GMC.

Sun Buick GMC, Moosic, is sponsoring the hole-in-one contest at the Maternal and Family Health Services 25th Annual Golf Tournament on Thursday, June 14, at Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club, Mountain Top.

The hole-in-one prize is a 2018 Buick Regal TOUR X and will go to the lucky golfer at the MFHS Tournament who gets a hole-in-one on hole 9 of the Ridge course.

For more information about golf and sponsorship opportunities, e-mail or call 1-800-367-6347.

The 25th Annual MFHS Golf Tournament is June 14th

In just over two weeks, we will be celebrating our 25th year of the MFHS golf tournament at the Blue Ridge Trail Golf Club in Mountain Top. Join us on Thursday, June 14th to support children and families in our community.

The golf tournament is open to anyone who enjoys playing golf, and the event will be held rain or shine! Operating in a four person captain and crew format, the fee is $125 per person, $500 for a foursome. This cost includes green fees, a cart, lunch, dinner, and refreshments. Grand prizes will be awarded to our top male and female flights. Raffles and a silent auction will also occur throughout the day at the tournament.

To register as a golfer or to sponsor the tournament, please visit our golf page. We offer a number of sponsorship opportunities for individuals and businesses who are motivated to donate to MFHS in support of our various programs and services. Thanks to the generous donations of community members, Maternal and Family Health Services has been able to positively impact the lives of approximately 100,000 women and children in Northeast Pennsylvania and beyond. For over 45 years, we have served local families with our comprehensive health and wellness programs like the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Supplemental Nutrition Program.

Tee Off Tuesday: Enter to win a FREE vacation!

As May comes to an end, it’s time to get ready for summer! Are you hoping to take a fun family vacation this summer? Thanks to Sundance Vacations, we are giving away a fabulous trip to your choice of Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach South Carolina! Raffle tickets for the South Carolina vacation will be sold at our golf tournament on June 14th, but you don’t need to attend the tournament to buy tickets. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the MFHS golf tournament, and on the day of the tournament the winner will be drawn for the 8 day/ 7 night South Carolina vacation.

Tickets are $25 for 1 entry, 2 for $40, or buy 3 get 1 free. Celebrate our 25th year of the golf tournament by entering to win this exciting trip! Click here to enter the South Carolina vacation raffle and learn more. And if you are interested in golfing in the tournament, you can register to play on our golf page.