After earning their medical degrees in New York City, John and Matthew Mercuri returned home to Scranton, giving back to the community they grew up in.
Dr. John Mercuri, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Dr. Matthew Mercuri, a neurologist, — and brothers — knew all along they wanted to come home after finishing their medical education. After earning their medical degrees from New York University in New York City, the Mercuri brothers are now Geisinger physicians practicing in Scranton – the same city (and hospital, Geisinger Community Medical Center) where they were born.
Same path, different passions
A major focus for both throughout their academic careers was finding professions where they could make the greatest impact. Providing patient care in the community where they grew up turned out to be the path both men chose.
But they are also different in many ways – Dr. John Mercuri, 34, was an athlete in high school and college, while Dr. Matthew Mercuri, 31, focused on the humanities, studying English and philosophy and becoming editor of his university’s literary magazine.
The elder Mercuri shadowed physicians early in his medical school career and was taken aback when he saw a knee replacement surgery for the first time. “That surgical procedure was so incredible because I had never seen anything remotely like that ever before. It really stood out in my mind as I moved along in medical school.”
The younger brother followed his humanities instincts and thought the brain was the perfect specimen to study while in medical school.
“As a field, neurology deals in a lot of abstraction,” he says. “It tackles a lot of large questions about subjects like consciousness, free will, memory and cognition – the same big-scale issues philosophy takes on. These questions are what many human beings have tried to solve for centuries.”
He says the field of epilepsy care within neurology has a huge potential of making a difference in people’s lives, and that’s why he chose it above other subspecialties.
“In a lot of cases, the treatments will actually give the most severely affected patients their lives back,” he says. “For some patients who have epilepsy, they can’t drive, they can’t hold a job, they can’t swim or take a bath unattended. There are many limitations on what they can do, and with the right combination of medication, lifestyle adjustments, and sometimes even referral for surgery, you can help give someone their life back.”
Dr. John Mercuri started his career with Geisinger in 2018, after a private practice he intended to join became part of Geisinger. He practices at Geisinger Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Scranton.
“The partners let me decide if I wanted to continue with Geisinger,” he says. “It was an absolute no-brainer. Geisinger is the region’s healthcare leader. This is where exciting stuff is happening. This is where I want to be.”
He was especially eager to work with the advanced technologies Geisinger invested in for orthopaedic surgery. Dr. John Mercuri is certified in Mako robotic surgery, which increases accuracy and can shorten recovery time in joint replacement surgery.
Dr. Matthew Mercuri started at Geisinger Community Medical Center this year, as a neurologist specializing in epilepsy. He chose Geisinger because of its Level 4 epilepsy center in Danville, which uses state-of-the-art technology to treat epilepsy patients with complex conditions.
“Also, they opened a new epilepsy monitoring unit at the Scranton hospital around the time I started to look for jobs,” he says. “It just seemed serendipitous.”
Family, community come full circle
Their family planted roots in the area around 100 years ago. John says his great-grandfather, Francesco, settled and became a butcher, selling meats on Farr Street in the Tripp Park section of Scranton. Francesco and his wife bore the first John in the family – the brothers’ grandfather.
The brothers’ father, attorney John J. Mercuri, was a magisterial district judge in North Pocono for more than three decades before retiring in 2017. Dr. John Mercuri is married with a 2-year-old son, also named John, and lives in Lackawanna county. Dr. Matthew Mercuri is also married and lives with his wife in Lackawanna county.
The brothers aren’t the only doctors in the family, either – their older brother, Erik Baker, is an internist near Hilton Head, S.C.
Dr. John Mercuri jokes about the family profession. “Mom was very successful,” he laughs about his mother’s ability to raise three high achievers. But it was not entirely unexpected. “When we were young in school, we all did well academically, and we all had an interest in science. I think it just naturally evolved that way.”
Both men attended Scranton Preparatory School for high school and The University of Scranton, and both schools are steeped in the Jesuit academic tradition. The brothers say this instilled within them a deep need to give back to their community, and their desire to help others is a driving factor in why they chose their professions.
The brothers appreciate their roots and enjoy interacting with the community where they were raised.
“I’m a year into my practice now, and it’s been incredibly fulfilling to take care of this community that I grew up in,” says Dr. John Mercuri.
The younger Mercuri says while he enjoyed spending time in New York City for his training, he enjoys the sense of connectedness he feels coming back to the area where he grew up.
He says he started receiving referrals from a retiring physician who treats epilepsy in Scranton and realized the doctor was more than just a friendly fellow neurologist.
“When he first started his practice, he took care of me as a baby with a febrile seizure,” he says. “I’m starting my career, he’s ending his career, and we’re kind of completing the circle. It drives the point home that I’m from this place and I’m going to give back to this place.”