Weitzman Weekly

Spotlight: Project ECHO Pediatric and Adolescent Behavioral Health


Agi Erickson (above)

This week, I talked to Agi Erickson (Manager of Project ECHO) at Community Health Center, Inc’s (CHC) Weitzman Institute to learn about the upcoming Pediatric and Behavioral Health Project ECHO. Project ECHO is a form of telehealth that brings specialty expertise into primary care through case based learning and didactics. Providers present their most complex and challenging cases to an expert panel and receive recommendation from a multidisciplinary perspective on how to manage that case while highlighting key concepts to benefit all providers. Coming soon, Weitzman will be in studying a new Project ECHO specifically aimed at improving behavioral health care to children and integrating medical and behavioral health care aged 3-21 years.

After months of planning, Project ECHO Pediatric and Adolescent Behavioral Health will start today, March 3rd, 2015. The faculty team is comprised of six experts from CHC and UConn Health. Over the next 4 months, the faculty members will videoconference with over 20 behavioral health and primary care providers from across Connecticut to provide a forum for case-based learning and didactics. The topics scheduled to be discussed are:

1. Assessments
2. Boundaries Within School
3. Legal and Community Boundaries
4. Anxiety
5. Depression
7. Substance Use and Abuse
8. Comorbidities
9. Trauma
10. Continuity of Care

The idea of this project was triggered by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In a conversation with Agi Erickson, she explained that the Pediatric and Adolescent BH ECHO is especially important to her. As a mother of two small children, she was deeply saddened by this horrific tragedy that took the lives of innocent children and teachers, left families heartbroken and a nation in tears all looking for answers.

Like many other people, after the Newtown shooting, Agi wanted to do something that could ease the pain of the families and would prevent needless suffering. As the manager of Weitzman Institute’s Project ECHO, it was natural for her to think of the ECHO model as a tool for implementing change. The goal is to care for the children’s’ physical and emotional well-being simultaneously and catching signs of mental illness early and to provide timely and effective care.

Agi presented the idea of a Pediatric Behavioral Health ECHO to a pediatrician, the chief behavioral health officer, a director of a school based health center and the Chief Quality Improvement Officer at CHC. The support for her idea was overwhelming. Her vision united medical providers, social workers, and behavioral health clinicians who often work in silos. Their collaboration will begin the much-needed integration of medical and behavioral health services to provide children with the holistic health care they need.

During a moment when Agi was feeling down thinking about the Newtown tragedy, her 4-year-old daughter approached her to say, “Mom, you’re never going to lose me.” This message gave her strength and the determination to find new ways to improve the delivery of behavioral health care to children utilizing tools like Pediatric and Behavioral Health Project ECHO.

I hope that our conversation convinces you about the importance of providing high quality behavioral health care to children. This population is so often overlooked in our country and it is important that care is catered to the specific age group. Results on the impact of Pedi and Adolescent Behavioral Health Project ECHO are highly anticipated. In the future, we hope to expand the program across the nation to any institutions that serve children. For more information, please contact Agi at EricksA@chc1.com.

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Community Health Center, Inc. Announces New Board Members



Eliza Cole

Community Health Center, Inc.

(860) 262-2546 or eliza@chc1.com

Community Health Center, Inc. Announces New Board Members

MIDDLETOWN, Conn; March 2, 2015: Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC), Connecticut’s largest provider of primary care to the underserved, announces new officers and Board of Director members who began their terms in January 2015. The Board makes policy decisions, authorizes rule-making and oversees CHC’s operations.

During the January 2015 meeting of The Board, members honored outgoing Chairman Mark Bonney for providing CHC with a generation of leadership. “CHC was fortunate to have someone like Mark, with his profound knowledge of executive level business operations, serve on the board for twenty years.” said Mark Masselli, President and CEO of CHC. “His colleagues on The Board also recognize his contributions by unanimously voting him Chairman Emeritus, a designation well deserved.”

“In 2014 I joined the finance committee of The Board to give back to the community where my wife and I were raising our family,” said Bonney. “I soon learned that I was receiving much more than I was giving in the knowledge I gained and in the relationships that I developed. I love the passion that CHC has for its mission and I am proud to have participated in CHC’s growth over the years.”

Mark J. Bonney has held various senior executive financial and operating positions, in middle market, high technology companies, both in the United States and abroad. Bonney has a long history of dramatically increasing shareholder value in both public and private enterprises. Through On Board Advisors, LLC, Mark is now focused on public company board service, private investing and philanthropic endeavors. He is currently the President and CEO of MRV Communications, which is a leader in converged packet-optical solutions for next-generation mobile backhaul, data center and cloud connectivity enabling customers to virtualize, visualize and monetize their networking resources.

Gary Reid, Financial Analyst with Prudential Life Insurance Company, will serve as the new Chair. “I am honored to have been elected as Chairman,” said Reid. “CHC is one of the nation’s leading primary care providers for special populations, and is constantly innovating and improving health care delivery for its patients. This is an exciting time to oversee the organization’s strategic activities.”

“We are pleased that Gary has accepted this position. He is part of the next generation of young executives in the Hartford area, with tremendous leadership skills that will make this passing of the torch seamless,” said Mark Masselli, President and CEO of CHC. “Gary, who is a graduate of Wesleyan, has deep roots in Middletown, where our headquarters are, and has served with Mark Bonney for nearly many years, making him well suited to taking the helm.”

Terry M. Danaher will join the Board’s leadership team as Vice Chair. Terry has served on CHC’s Board for 25 years and is the Chair of CHC’s Clinical Issues Committee. “CHC is making a positive impact among the underserved and chronically ill, while helping improve access to care for all people,” said Vice Chair Danaher.  “It’s an honor and great opportunity to be part of the organization’s leadership.”

The Board has also elected two new members from the communities served by CHC – Deidre “De” Boone, of Norwalk, CT, a corporate consultant providing customized social media strategies and solutions for businesses that want to create an online brand and increase sales leads from Norwalk, CT; and Roger Kemp, of Meriden, with a long background in municipal management, from the city of Meriden to Oakland, CA. Kemp has been recently appointed as the Practitioner in Residence, Department of Public Management, College of Business, at the University of New Haven.

As a consumer led organization, the majority of the members of the Board of Directors are CHC patients. They provide leadership that reflects the many interests, issues and concerns of the people in the counties, cities, towns and communities they represent. CHC has been successful in improving healthcare because while it is a statewide organization, the agency is focused on delivering healthcare locally, while building healthy communities.

“We are thrilled to have such great leadership at the helm of our Board,” said Margaret Flinter, APRN, Senior Vice President, and Clinical Director of CHC.  “With decades of service to our Board between Gary Reid and Terry Danaher, they truly understand what it takes to manage the health of the state’s most vulnerable population, and will guide the organization in the right direction.”’

Photo attached. Caption: Gary Reid, of Bloomfield (left), Financial Analyst with Prudential Life Insurance Company was recently appointed Chairman of the Board for Community Health Center, Inc. Reid succeeds Mark Bonney, President and CEO of MRV Communications, who served on CHC’s board for 20 years. Bonney was unanimously voted Chairman Emeritus by his colleagues at a board meeting in January.


About Community Health Center, Inc. Since 1972, Community Health Center, Inc. has been one of the leading healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut, building a world-class primary health care system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. CHC is focused on improving health outcomes for its more than 130,000 patients as well as building healthy communities. Recognized as both a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission, CHC delivers service in more than 200 locations statewide, offering primary care in medical, dental and behavioral health services. For more information, visit www.chc1.com.



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Yulun Wang, President of the American Telemedicine Association

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Yulun Wang, Ph.D, President of the American Telemedicine Association, dedicated to the full integration of telemedicine within the health care system. An engineer with over 50 patents to his name, Dr. Wang is also Chairman and CEO of InTouch Health, a global leader in telehealth technologies

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A Point In Time to Recognize the Homeless Population

On February 18th, myself and two other AmeriCorps members grabbed our flashlights, put on some extra layers, and stayed out late to participate in the annual Point in Time Count in New Britain. Point in Time, a national initiative from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, aims to count the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals in the coldest nights of winter to understand our ability to provide shelter to the nation’s homeless. In Connecticut, the program is managed by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, and spans various towns from Cheshire to Hartford.

This year, Point in Time included a measure of vulnerability – the Vulnerability Index & Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool or VI-SPDAT – to consider the factors which may prevent a person from reaching the appropriate services. This index would also serve as a means to find services that may apply to an individual’s needs.

When I arrived at the Friendship Service Center with my fellow corps members, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I work with CHC’s healthcare for the homeless program, Wherever You Are (WYA), but this only provides me a small window of experience in the context of a few shelters. I was a bit nervous to go out into the city at night, but excited to get involved with the community in a new way.

After an intensive period of safety training and discussion, my corps members and I were given counting measures and identification buttons, assigned an area to check, and left the building with an invigorated sense of excitement. However, going out into the night was a bitter reminder of the difficulties facing the homeless; it was in the single digits, and even all of my layers couldn’t prevent me from the wind. As we walked, my corps members and I talked about our gratitude for what shelter and resources we had available to us. We agreed that at times it’s easy to forget our privilege – this experience allowed us some perspective.

My group never did find any homeless individuals. Ellen Simpson, the director of the Friendship Center, reminded us that this was a wonderful sign: this provided evidence that the model of outreach and service in New Britain is working. As my group piled back into the car to drive home, we all agreed that it was a wonderful experience, and a reminder of the important work we do every day.

By Julia Sisson, AmeriCorps

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Introducing a 10th Americorps Member!

This week we are pleased to introduce Kelly Ann! She joined CHC as an Americorps member this fall and is serving with the Diabetic Retinopathy program, but also active in other Americorps projects including Recess Rocks. Read her introduction below:

Hello! I’m KellyAnn, an Americorps member with the diabetic retinopathy program.

Originally, I’m from Guilford, Connecticut, where I currently reside…. I still live at home. You try living somewhere else on this stipend. ;)

I recently graduated from Wesleyan University, where I studied Biology/Neuroscience and Behavior, and played on the women’s basketball team (Go Wes!). I was pre-med in college, and, in the future hope to further my education in Medical School.

In the gap years, I was hoping to gain more experience in the medical field and Community Healthcorps seemed like the perfect way to do so.  I was very excited to join Community Health Center, Inc. because I was inspired by their commitment to serve the underserved. Now, 6 months in to my term of service, I continue to be inspired by the standard of care that CHC employees strive toward every day. The diabetic retinopathy program has allowed me to learn about numerous different aspects of the healthcare field; whether it be research, healthcare management, quality innovation, patient outreach, or individual patient care.  I look forward to what this broad range of experiences will provide for me in the future.

When I’m not serving at CHC, I spend my time running. I recently ran my first full marathon in October 2014 in Newport, Rhode Island. It was an amazing experience and I am hoping to run one or two more in the year to come! I also love listening to music, and consider rocking out to pop songs and singing along a little bit too loudly as a serious hobby.

kelly ann

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Give Kids a Smile Kick Off 2015

The American Dental Association began the Give Kids a Smile Day (GKAS) program in 2002 during the month of February, which is National Children’s Dental Health Movement. Beth Kilian the Program Manager of Mobile Dental Services stressed the Community Health Center’s significant role in the celebration. It offers patients with HUSKY insurance and non – insurance based patients with the opportunity for free dental care for children.

Our kickoff event began in our Meriden location on February 6th  with many children attending and continuing in the trend throughout the month. Dr. Heather Crockett- Washington our Chief Dental Officer welcomed everyone and listed the various events taking place within CHC for Give Kids a Smile. Lori Clavette the Mobile Dental Manager of Hygienists strongly expresses the importance to increase awareness to families who are underprivileged to take advantage of the opportunities provided through Give Kids a Smile. Miguel Castro the Meriden City Councilor Chair of Human Services Committee stopped by as a proud community member of Meriden who believes in bridging the gap of healthcare disparities and making partnerships like these to further increase healthy communities.



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Competing to Provide Quality Service

As snow piles up, day after day, for some of us, it can become just a struggle to get to work, but the snow hasn’t buried the spirit of two of CHC’s Patient Service Associates.  In the midst of high call volume, a friendly competition developed between Luis Gomez-Arroyo and Crystal Martinez, about who could provide the best quality service to the most patients calling CHC.

DSC06061Last week, Luis handled 99 calls in one day, and when Crystal heard about it, she stuck around to beat his record.  Middletown Operations Manager, Sally Lastrina heard about the competition and offered the winner a free lunch to whomever handled the most calls on Monday, February 23rd.

So, yesterday, Luis and Crystal went head to head and Luis came out on top.  Being the great sport he is, he shared his lunch with Crystal.

DSC06064Yet the real winners were patients who had their phone calls answered quickly and efficiently by caring committed Patient Service Associates.

Congratulations to everyone.  Maybe a sandwich eating contest is next.


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Dr. Sherine Gabriel, Dean of the Mayo Medical School at the Mayo Clinic

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Sherine Gabriel, Dean of the Mayo Medical school at the prestigous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, as well as a new medical school to be opened in Arizona. Dr. Gabriel talks about shifting their patient-centered medical training to incorporate 21st century needs including genomics, social determinants of health and prevention.

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John Nosta, Digital Health Futurist, President of Nostalab

This week, Mark and Margaret speak with John Nosta, founder and president of Nostalab, a digital health think tank. Mr. Nosta, is also a member of the Google Health Advisory Board and looks at the coming digital health trends, nanotechnology and genomics that are going to transform health outcomes of the future, as well as the growing role tech giants like Google and Apple are poised to play.

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Weitzman Weekly

Spotlight: Facilitation Training with Patti Feeney & Deb Ward


Patti Feeney is one of the leaders of the Facilitation Trainings.

Well-run meetings are important to the workflow of almost all organizations. It is important to recognize that successfully leading a meeting is a skill that needs to be learned. At the Weitzman Institute, Patti Feeney (Senior Quality Improvement Specialist, Trainer and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt) and Deb Ward (Senior Quality Improvement Manager) offer Facilitation Trainings to teach the skills needed to successfully lead meetings. In one day, participants undergo hands-on learning through practice and some didactic. In a conversation with Patti and Deb, I learned about how these trainings started, successes and obstacles of developing the program, and what the two ladies hope to see in the future for the program. 

What is facilitation training? Facilitation trainings occur in one day and are scheduled with back-to-back practice and simulations that help participants learn how to successfully lead a meeting. In preparation for training day, all participants are highly encouraged to go through an online pre-training. This pre-training is important because it allows participants to be ready to go as soon as the in-person training occurs. The goals of the in-person training are to educate participants on how to be better listeners, work and interact with people in their meetings, and balance delivery of meeting content with involving participants in meetings. After training, participants are expected to have someone observe them leading a meeting. The observer would provide constructive criticism and praise at the end of the meeting. This part ensures that participants get real-world practice and feedback for the skills that they just acquired.

Where did the idea come from? The quality improvement team at Weitzman started this program over two years ago after realizing that many microsystem coaches were struggling to lead efficient meetings. The trainings are inspired by a very similar training that is offered at one of the Veteran Affairs hospitals. Deb and Patti took on the task of implementing it at CHC starting with microsystem coaches and expanding it every year to include others. Until recently, participants were all internal to CHC and ranged from nurses to providers to residents. Participants are referred to the program by their supervisor for professional development of  their work at  Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC).

Why has the program expanded and gotten so popular recently? At the December, 2014 training , Patti and Deb taught the course to external (as well as internal) participants. The participants external to CHC came from the Community Health Network. The expansion of the program outside of the organization is one indicator that the program is gaining momentum and popularity. However, even within the organization, there is more demand for the program. Classes are quickly filled and there is even a waiting list to get into the training. Both Patti and Deb attribute the growth and popularity to two reasons. The first is that leaders and supervisors are starting to see the benefits of the training and are encouraging more of their staff members to participate. A second reason is that past participants are advising their peers and co-workers to take the course. The first-hand experience with how the training works coupled with spreading information through word-of-mouth has also played a pivotal role in increasing the demand for the trainings.

What is the future of this program? With the momentum of the program, both Patti and Deb are optimistic about the future of the program. They are always looking to improve the training and recently, they have even talked about expanding the program through technology. Both ladies mentioned the rise in meetings that are held via videoconferencing at CHC. Therefore, it makes logical sense to expand the training to teach how to lead successful web meetings. This is a course that has been asked for by many past participants so the demand is there. In addition, past participants are also asking for short refresher classes that may be helpful to keep their skills sharp. The ladies conclude that tailoring to the participants is their priority so any expansions or changes will be implemented to achieve that. Facilitation Training is a program that is becoming an important part of Weitzman’s many quality improvement initiatives. The next training is February 20th and there are still a few open spots. If you have any questions about the training or if you want to participate, please contact Patti Feeney (FeeneyP@chc1.com).

Cheers and enjoy this comic :)

Facilitation training comic

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