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Surgeon returns to NEPA to start career

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – We often hear of what’s called “brain drain” when someone is educated locally but takes their talents elsewhere. The opposite of that has happened for a Scranton-born surgeon who is back home to take care of the community that raised him.

Roots run deep for this Scranton Prep and University of Scranton graduate. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, when it came time to establish his career the doctor chose his native Lackawanna County.

Dr. John Mercuri, MD is back where it all started. “It was always in the back of my mind about coming back home.” The 33-year-old orthopaedic surgeon could have written his own ticket to anywhere as a New York City fellowship-trained surgeon in adult reconstruction. He said, “Hip and knee replacement are actually the most common surgery in the Medicare age population and the demand for them is increasing.”

But just like his joint replacement procedures, his career choice had to be the right fit which he says he found  at Geisinger Community Medical Center where he will perform his surgeries. “They’ve made big investments in some more advanced robotics and computer technologies which can really enhance the way that I can take care of patients with arthritis.” 

The pull of northeastern Pennsylvania was also strong because Dr. Mercuri knew many patients leave the region to find the specialized care they need. “I think some of that care can be provided here and it’s important to me to be able to offer that to the community here.” 

“When he said he was coming back, I wasn’t surprised. Put it that way,” said former University of Scranton Athletic Director Toby Lovecchio. He met Dr. Mercuri 15 years ago when Mercuri was a U of S student-athlete. Mr. Lovecchio is pleased the greater Scranton area will reap the benefits of Dr. Mercuri’s skill set. “To make our community stronger, to make our community better, more vibrant, it’s just great for northeastern PA.”

Dr. Mercuri will also pass on his knowledge at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. “I’m going to be helping teaching the medical students in their anatomy course which is another way that I can be involved in the institution and the community,” he said.

Dr. Mercuri performed nearly 600 joint replacement surgeries during his residency and fellowship. He will perform his first in Scranton next week.

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