COVID-19 threw the world into stay-at-home mode, creating the need for online communication.
A young company, Gaboro Medical Supply in Stroudsburg, found that to be true and is now using a relatively new platform, Tomorrow Health, to electronically get the information it needs.
Robert Robinson, co-owner of the business launched in June 2019, said his company had to adapt to the digital platform to deliver care to patients and coordinate among professional providers and suppliers quickly as the pandemic hit.
“Typically, we would have sales reps go to doctors’ offices to work with us to get patients the medical supplies they needed,” Robinson said.
Tomorrow Health was founded to improve the medical supply industry and is partnered with Geisinger Health System to help coordinate home healthcare supplies for members to ensure that the process of securing medical equipment is simple and quick, according to Tomorrow Health.
“We are getting orders to patients within 24 to 48 hours. We get document authorization right on the platform,” he said, which has increased order volume by about 50%.
The company, which specializes in diabetics monitors, has a national footprint but strives to keep a local feel.
“We want to keep a mom-and-pop feel because most of our competitors are national,” he said. “Customers like to know they can call and talk to someone who understands what they are going through.”
COVID shifted Gaboro’s business in a good way, Robinson said. “Doctors put orders in through Tomorrow Health, then we call the patient to see if it is okay with them and send the equipment they need,” Robinson said.
“Our intake process is streamlined so we only have two people in that department,” he said, adding typically it would require five to 10. “We are now centralized so we can manage everything in the intake portal. No more paperwork.”
“Most of our staff reside on the reorder side where they troubleshoot, refill prescriptions and make sure people adhere to their therapy,” Robinson said. He employs about 23 people.
The bottom line, he said, “is we can speed up care by streamlining the process. We would like to be like Amazon – we are not same day delivery, but we are close.”
Enterprise Truck Rental has opened a new location in Stroudsburg.
The new branch, which officially opened in May, was strategically selected to better serve customers in the Poconos region.
Before this branch opened, the nearest Enterprise Truck Rental locations were about 45 minutes away from local customers and served portions of the Wilkes-Barre and Allentown markets.
The new location at 1425 N 9th St., Stroudsburg is able to serve the entire Stroudsburg market and surrounding markets of Lock Haven, Montoursville, Muncy, Lewisburg, Bloomsburg and Selinsgrove regions, while providing customers with easier access to truck rental solutions, including cargo vans, box trucks and tow-capable pickup trucks for both business and personal use.
Sights for Hope received funding to bring advanced technology to visually impaired people in Lehigh Valley.
The funding, $40,000 from the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind (PAB), part of $1.5 million funding to PAB from the Department of Human Services, will enable Sights for Hope to buy more than a dozen pairs of high-tech devices that it says will enhance personal independence for people with visual impairments.
The devices include a revolutionary voice and gesture-activated device that recognizes faces for the user and reads to the user text from any book or surface; a state-of-the-art wearable augmented reality magnifier that enhances what the user can see; and wearable devices that can project streaming video in front of the user’s eyes, Sights for Hope said.
Demonstrations for the new devices will be held at Sights for Hope’s Lehigh Valley Services Center in Allentown, at its Monroe Services Center near Stroudsburg, and at sites throughout its communities this spring. The organization will start community demonstrations in the fall.
Sights for Hope’s objective is to make people with visual impairments more familiar with the devices and more likely to acquire them.
“The chance to increase awareness of these devices is an opportunity to make a purposeful impact on the lives of people in the Lehigh Valley and Monroe County who have visual impairments,” said Jennifer Pandolfo, associate director and director of services of Sights for Hope.
“Inspiring technological advances such as these expand the ways in which barriers to independence and success can be removed and the lives of those we serve can be transformed,” she said.
Sights for Hope was started in 1928 by two groups of Lions Club members who formed branches of the PAB in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Sights for Hope is presently one of 25 independent members of PAB.
St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) will add a 175,000-square-foot patient care tower to its Monroe Campus in response to rising demand for its healthcare services. The $85 million, four-story addition will double the size of the existing hospital.
“This expansion will meet the continuously increasing and projected demand for our medical services,” said Don Seiple, president of St. Luke’s Monroe Campus. “This growth reflects the confidence our Monroe County neighbors have placed in our providers, a trust that we hold sacred.”
To be built on the east side of the campus, the addition will house a general medical-surgical unit with 36 beds, additional operating and procedure space and expanded outpatient programs, as well as shell space for future development.
In keeping with St. Luke’s tradition, the addition will be built with American-made steel, he said.
St. Luke’s Monroe Chief of Medicine, Dr. Douglas A. Degler, called the tower project “a timely, well-planned and critical investment that will increase our population’s access to high-quality care that it needs and deserves.”
Groundbreaking for construction is slated for spring 2022, with opening in early 2024.
The project will employ 250 construction workers, hospital spokesman said. It will also result in the creation 80 permanent, family-sustaining jobs – with more to come later as shell space is occupied.
Located just off Route 611 in Stroudsburg, St. Luke’s Monroe Campus opened in 2016. The 180,000-square-foot hospital with four stories features private patient rooms including beds for critical care patients, a large and efficient emergency room, helipad, state-of-the-art operating rooms, a cardiac catheterization lab and the most modern diagnostic technology.
St. Luke’s Monroe Campus is part of the St. Luke’s University Health System which earned Medicare’s five- and four-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. St. Luke’s Monroe Campus is a Level IV trauma center and has earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for stroke care.
The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit watchdog organization on hospital safety, awarded St. Luke’s Monroe Campus an “A” rating since opening in 2016. St. Luke’s is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital. U.S. News & World Report ranked St. Luke’s #1 in the Lehigh Valley and #6 in the state. St. Luke’s flagship University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from IBM Watson Health nine times total and seven years in a row, including in 2021 when it was identified as the number one teaching hospital in the country.
Alpha Recycling, a New York-based recycler of catalytic converters and other scrap metals, is expanding with a new processing center in Stroudsburg.
The company’s $ 4 million investment in the facility is expected to create 30 new, full-time jobs.
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development offered Alpha a $100,000 Pennsylvania First grant and $60,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits to be distributed upon the creation of the new jobs.
Because of growth at its full-scale processing centers in the Bronx, New York and in Trenton, New Jersey, the company needed a third recycling center.
The company located a site in Stroudsburg, owned by Re-Earth of Stroudsburg Inc., that has three 4,000-square-foot buildings.
Alpha will be using the funds from the state to help offset the cost of the construction of a 20,000-square-foot addition to one of the three existing structures on the site. It will be renovating all three buildings, making site development improvements and purchasing necessary equipment.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, Alpha’s proprietary technology allows it to source catalytic converters from suppliers.
After processing catalytic converters, Alpha customers are paid for the reclaimed precious metals and the precious metals are then reused in new catalytic converters of newly manufactured vehicles among other products.
Alpha also purchases and processes other scrap metals such as rims, starters, alternators, AC compressors, batteries, aluminum, copper and other items.
Jimi Honochick didn’t intend to mirror his father’s life and career as a traveler and then insurance agent, but it seems to be turning out that way.
His father, Jim, was born in the Lehigh Valley, but described himself as a corporate nomad living in Atlanta and Mississippi while traveling the world for business. Feeling he was missing too much time with his family, the elder Honochick, now 61, took advice from his brothers who worked in the insurance industry in the Lehigh Valley.
They trumpeted the region as a great place to raise a family and running an insurance agency as a great career, so Jim acquired the Yutz-Merkle Agency in Stroudsburg, a stone’s throw away from his parents and brothers, and moved his wife and two sons to the Poconos.
Ten years later he acquired the Lehigh Agency in Bethlehem, bringing his business even closer to his family.
Jimi Honochick started on a similar path, with wanderlust taking him away from the Greater Lehigh Valley to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. He lived in Los Angeles, New York and Delaware working on game shows and reality TV.
But with a wife and three children, the 34 year old was beginning to see the appeal of living closer to family and working in an industry that could help him be active at home and in the community.
Jimi’s uncles also talked to him about the joy of working as insurance agents in the area and convinced him he should give it a try.
“We were all together for Thanksgiving 2019 and all my uncles are involved in the insurance industry. Hearing them all talk about being involved in the community and raising a family here got me thinking,” the younger Honochick said.
First, Jimi talked to his wife, Patricia and she agreed to the change.
“With the pandemic we were already pretty set on moving and the Lehigh Valley had a lot to offer,” he said.
He then approached his father, who was starting to think about retirement, about moving back to the Lehigh Valley and joining the agency with the goal of eventually taking it over. He thought his father would be thrilled at the notion.
“My dad actually discouraged me,” he said. “Right up to the day before I resigned he was on the phone asking me ‘are you sure?’”
His father worried about whether the insurance industry would be the right fit for Jimi. His other son, John, had already tried it and found that it wasn’t for him. He was concerned that Jimi, after living in Los Angeles and New York and working in the entertainment industry, would find working at a hometown insurance office boring.
It had been an adjustment for him when he left a high-ranking position with a global firm to operate his own insurance office, he said.
“I went from a big corporate office in the kind of company where you could pick out the art you wanted for your décor, to a little office by the train tracks where you had to stop talking when the train came through,” Jim said. “It was an ego check.”
But Jimi disagreed.
“I think the Valley has so much to offer it will keep it exciting for us. We’ve found there’s a microcosm here that has a lot that big cities have and there’s great restaurants,” he said.
So now for Jimi the next adventure begins, back at home at his father’s side, learning the business and reacquainting himself with his hometown as he prepares to be the next generation of Honochick in the family’s insurance agency.
Stroudsburg-based ESSA Bank & Trust has made some management changes to its Lehigh Valley Commercial Banking team.
Stephen Bowers has been named regional president for the Lehigh Valley. Prior to joining ESSA, he served as vice president of commercial real estate lending for Penn Community bank. He has had a career of more than 22 years in multiple facets of the financial services industry.
Bowers will lead commercial banking and the retail branches within the Lehigh Valley region for ESSA.
“Steve brings a wealth of experience and extensive knowledge of the Lehigh Valley market and we look forward to his contributions leading our commercial and retail efforts as part of our customer-focused regional structure,” said Peter Gray, executive vice president and chief banking officer for ESSA.
James Gorman, Sr. has been appointed senior commercial relationship manager for the Lehigh Valley Region.
Prior to joining ESSA, Gorman served as senior vice president of community banking at BB&T. He has more than 38 years of commercial banking experience in various roles and organizations.
Bowers has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Pennsylvania State University.
He has been an active volunteer for several community and civic organizations, including the Red Mill Museum Village Board of Trustees, Rotary International Clinton Chapter Treasurer, Levitt Pavilion Board of Directors, Artsquest Governance Committee, Equi-librium Board of Trustees and, most recently, the chair of the March of Dimes Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Awards.
Gorman has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from King’s College and a master’s degree in finance from Wilkes University.
He also serves as an adjunct professor of finance at the Pennsylvania State University Scranton. Gorman is a board member at the NEPA Council for Boy Scouts of America, American Cancer Society Ball of Hope and volunteers at several charitable organizations.
ESSA Bank & Trust has total assets of $1.9 billion and has 22 community offices throughout the Greater Pocono, Lehigh Valley, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and suburban Philadelphia markets.
A Harbor Freight Tools is under construction in Stroudsburg. The tool retailer will replace the former A.C. Moore hobby store at 1122 N. Ninth Street in the borough.
The discount tool store will open in early 2021. An opening date has not yet been set.
“We’ve been looking to open a location in Stroudsburg for a number of years so that we can provide the tools and equipment at tremendous values to the community,” said Trey Feiler, senior vice president of Real Estate and Construction for Harbor Freight Tools.
The store is expected to create 25 to 30 new jobs including sales associates, sales and logistic supervisors. There will also be seasonal jobs available.
The family-owned chain was founded in southern California in 1977. It currently has more than 1,100 locations nationally.
If brilliant maples and buttery yellow quaking aspen are any indication, Mother Nature’s fall show is oblivious to Covid-19.
And while pick-your-own pumpkins, hayrides and corn mazes may be in shorter supply this season because of pandemic restrictions, conditions are ripe for fall foliage season and a leisurely drive north to the Poconos.
Christopher Barrett said conditions were perfect this summer for spectacular fall foliage color viewing, the best since his tenure began in 2017 as president and CEO of Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau Inc. in Stroudsburg.
“People are discovering and rediscovering the Poconos, and this year’s fall leaf season…is exceptionally brilliant,” Barrett said.
Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau Inc. in Stroudsburg serves Carbon, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties, and the territory encompasses about 2,400 square miles.
Barrett said roughly 29 million people visit the region for recreation and entertainment on a four-season basis. Since the March shutdown, visitors have been flocking to the Poconos outdoor nature and beauty spots, as well as enjoying biking, hiking, nature walks and water sports.
Short term stays are up, curb side pick-up from local restaurants remains popular, and Barrett said many visitors are enjoying the views while spending time with family.
So far, this season’s foliage visits are up, too, due to spectacular color displays and a continued thirst to get outdoors and enjoy “safe, close to home” getaways.
Visits overall, especially to local and state parks and sites throughout the year, have remained strong.
Thanks to weekly leaf predictor updates, posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website, visitors and residents can pinpoint a location to visit before leaving home and enjoy a colorful autumn day in the country.
Barrett said vineyards and distillers have made successful transitions including social distancing to extend their seasons by bringing product tastings outdoors.
Farm markets adapt
And while the outdoors has been a welcome haven because it is easier to maintain safe social distance from others, some farming and agriculture sectors that depend on high volumes for events and weekend visits have experienced challenges due to the pandemic. Kathleen Fields of Flint Hill Farm Educational Center in Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County, said she’s not having an open house this year, because of the pandemic.
“We are running the pumpkin patch, and we’ll be taking groups out as families, and we’re still doing birthday parties,” Fields said.
She avoids double booking on parties and appointments to ensure appropriate social distancing for visitors. “Pods” or small groups of those who have a social relationship may also book time to visit. “They come out, and stay in their own groups,” Fields said.
The center relies on seasonal visitors, and Fields said the farm has been open this year.
With virtual schools the norm, Fields said families are looking for more opportunities to do things outside with their children, and her location helps meet those needs.
With large festivals, county fairs and even the Pennsylvania Farm Show cancelling, or switching to virtual experiences for 2021, it may be harder to find area fall activities. The farm show will be held as a virtual event from January 9-17, its website said.
Area farmers’ markets such as the Emmaus Farmers’ Market continue to operate, but have implemented social distancing and require patrons to wear masks.
Easton Farmers’ Market moved from its downtown Centre Square location to the Scott Park on Larry Holmes Drive to allow more space for vendors and spread out visitors.
Both markets encourage patrons to order goods ahead for pickup from vendors on weekly market days. Both market websites have instructions for pre-ordering.
“Across [Pennsylvania] farm markets have continued to thrive and have been resilient and innovative in tweaking their business models to protect customers and staff from person-to-person spread of the virus, said Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture press secretary in Harrisburg.
In addition to weekend events and market sales, farmers who primarily supplied restaurants or school districts have been hurt as orders have sharply reduced, or stopped entirely.
According to an April report in lancasterfarming.com, while some egg and milk producers lost sales, others saw income spike as consumers raced to local farms to buy meat and produce to stock up in the wake of food shortage scares.
Powers said many pick-your-own operations are still open, though it is best to call ahead for hours as well as any restrictions or precautions individual operators are requiring.
Bonnie Schubert is co-owner of Hummerhaven Farmstead, a family-owned and operated business in Greenwood Township, Juniata County, and a member of the Pennsylvania Farm Vacation Association. Overnight guest stays are a mainstay of the farm’s season, she said, and this year was bad.
“Our farm only offers overnight stays and we did not take guests at all this season because of coronavirus. We did not open at all,” Schubert said.
She said the decision impacted her business tremendously and the seasonal income is vital to buying feed and caring for livestock on the property over the winter.
Part of the 127-acre property’s appeal to guests is the wildlife, nature walks and natural eco systems. They may also take part during the stay in livestock care, Schubert said.
At Hummerhaven Farmstead animal products such as milk and eggs from heritage livestock breeds are for the family’s use and not sold to the public, so those goods are not a source of cash revenue.
Schubert is optimistic Hummerhaven Farmstead can reopen to guests next year.
“That’s our plan: to get through the winter and reopen next April,” she said.
In a surprise move that could cripple the renaissance of downtown Stroudsburg, borough council Tuesday night rejected a plan to build a five-story, 50-unit apartment building that would have filled empty lots hidden for years behind artists’ murals in the 600 block of Main Street.
Council’s decision, on a motion by council member Matt Abell, came a week after the borough’s Historic Architectural Review Board recommended council approve Shanti House, a project pushed for years by New York City developers. It would have dramatically altered the downtown skyline and filled the gaping hole left after demolition crews leveled the remains of the buildings destroyed 14 years ago in a fire of suspicious origin that ripped through the prime real estate on Main Street near Seventh Street.
Abell, who initially wanted to delay a vote on the project but then switched to a motion to deny, said there are elements of the design that violate borough ordinances, including one banning the use of what are called PTAC units, or packaged terminal air conditioners that are frequently used in hotels and apartment buildings. He also criticized the borough for not giving council enough time to review the information on the Shanti project.
Mayor Tarah Probst said Wednesday she was disappointed with council given the years of work that’s been put into the project and made a plea to the developers to “not give up on Stroudsburg.”
She said the developers, who have done “everything and more we’ve asked them,” could appeal council’s decision.
“I respect council but I think they got this one wrong,” Probst said.
While the future of Shanti House is unclear, a plan was approved to bring a new restaurant, a bold idea given the the current struggles of restaurants and bars, to that block a few doors down the street from the Shanti site.
Owner Finola Conboy, whose husband Des Conboy was one of the former owners of Siamsa Irish Pub until it was sold in 2017, said her new business will be an upscale restaurant/bar, not a local dive serving cheap drinks and loud music, though it will serve takeout beer and wine.
She said she prefers acoustic guitars and ensembles over DJs and jukeboxes and told council the restaurant, tentatively called Finola’s, would “brighten up” that side of the block, which is now populated with empty lots and storefronts, including the spot at 615 Main St., where the restaurant is planned.
Finola Conboy, who grew up in Ireland in a family in the restaurant business, said extensive renovations are planned for the interior of the building and predicted it will open in 9 to 12 months, based on developments in the fight against the pandemic. She said the restaurant will feature American cuisine with 75-80 seats and meals from $18 to $34.
That side of the block has been hammered for years by failed businesses and fires, including an arson in 2018 at 14kt Outlet’s Fine Jewelry Design, 611 Main St., set by business owner Mona Siwiec of Saylorsburg. Siwiec’s charges were thrown out of court after a judge ruled she was legally insane.
Finola Conboy’s future restaurant is across the street from Newberry’s Yard of Ale, and owner Barry Lynch said another restaurant is good for business because it will draw more potential customers to the downtown.
Lynch’s old customers in the 700 block of Main Street, where he ran Jock N’ Jill’s Sports Bar and Grill, The Hideaway Lounge and Sarah’s Corner Café, have been closed for years and show no signs of anyone bellying up to the bar any time soon.
The upstairs portion of the corner property, the site of the landmark Penn Stroud Hotel, had been closed for years while undergoing extensive repairs and renovations overseen by a new owner, Keyur Patel, and opened just as the pandemic hit.
The Center for Vision Loss, which has offices in Allentown and Stroudsburg, announced the retirement of the man who has served as executive director since 2011.
Douglas Yingling will retire as of June 30. He will be replaced by Dennis Zehner, the agency’s associate director and director of advancement.
According to the nonprofit organization, the agency grew the number of people it serves, expanded its investment in vision rehabilitation and created the Camp I Can! Summer program for children.
Zehner will be the eighth executive director in the history of the agency. The organization said that it was founded in 1928, inspired by activist Helen Keller after she gave a speech at Liberty High School in Bethlehem.
The organization was known for decades as the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired for Lehigh County and consolidated with VIABL in 2010.
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