Introducing a Second Nurse Practitioner Resident!

This week we are pleased to introduce a second Family Nurse Practitioner Resident, Jacqueline Brysacz who is based out of the New London site this year. Read about what lead her to the residency program and more below: 

I am delighted to join CHC as a member of the 2014-2015 Family Nurse Practitioner residency.  I recently completed my training at Johns Hopkins University where I earned an FNP/MPH with a focus on infectious disease.  As a graduate student I worked as a research assistant in HIV and TB, completing training manuals for nurses in South Africa in MDR-TB management, and in risk reduction, interviewing exotic dancers on their occupational health risks.  Prior to my graduate program, I worked as an RN in HIV/TB/STIs for Baltimore City Health Department.   Before my nursing career, I developed a solid foundation in community health in the US and abroad.  I trained women and their families in beekeeping as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia, conducted evidence-based reproductive health education courses for high school freshmen in the Bronx with Community Health Corps, and assisted immigrant and Latina women through pregnancy as a doula in Baltimore.

I am excited to be part of CHC because I believe we share a dedication to providing all patients with the highest quality care. CHC’s dedication to respectful, evidence-based, compassionate care is inspiring and it is the kind of environment where I hope to grow and learn as a new clinician.  I decided to take part in this residency program because I want to develop a solid clinical foundation to enable me to deliver the highest quality care to the underserved.  My favorite part of primary care is patient contact- it brings me great joy to meet people from so many different walks to life and to play my small role in helping them stay or become healthy and well.  If I weren’t able to see patients for work, I would probably manage some sort of health program abroad.  If not that, I would put my efforts into swimming across all sorts of bodies of water as I love open water swimming.  When I am not swimming across things, I love to hike and am currently looking for a place to keep a beehive this coming spring.

Brysacz, Jacqueline

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Dr. Martin Kohn, Chief Scientific Officer of Jointly Health

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Martin Kohn, Chief Medical Scientist for Jointly Health, and recent Chief Medical Scientist at IBM Research, which oversaw the development of the supercomputer Watson for Healthcare. Dr. Kohn discusses the promise for the transformation of health care through the growth of Patient Centered Medical Homes as well as developing new platforms which coalesce big data from multiple sources to improve health outcomes.

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Knock Out Domestic Violence!

As you may know October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, intending to shed light on the struggle that effects thousands of American families every day. Community Health Center Inc operates New Horizons, a domestic violence shelter and resource center, in Middletown which serves families throughout the region.

On Saturday October 4th, New Horizons held a very successful fundraiser in conjunction with 9Rounds kickbox fitness in Middletown.  At the event participants pledged money per ’round’ of the 9Rounds workout, and they could also buy raffle tickets for prizes from our sponsors or logo t-shirts and tanks. At the conclusion of the event we found that New Horizons raised over $3,000 to go directly to its family programs and job placement services.  Check out the video from the event below:


To learn more about the work being done in clinical settings to help identify and prevent Domestic Violence check out our ‘Conversations in Health Care’ show from last week. An interview with Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell the National Program Director for Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars at .

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Weitzman Weekly

Spotlight: Khushbu Khatri

149369_3346260900114_6196296554760072751_nThis week, I had the chance to speak with the first ever AmeriCorps member to serve at the Weitzman Institute (WI). Some may know Khushbu Khatri from her involvement in a multitude of projects but few are fortunate enough to know the woman behind the work. Though she started from the bottom as an AmeriCorps member, she is here now as a vital employee of the WI research team. As she reflects on her experiences as an AmeriCorps member and then a research assistant, we learn about the projects she is most proud of through her perspective. 

In Fall of 2011, Project ECHO was merely an idea in the minds of those who worked at the Weitzman Institute. When Khushbu was interviewed for her AmeriCorps position, she was asked about what she knew of ECHO. She recalls how she was caught off guard when “Daren Anderson asked me about my knowledge of ECHO, so I had to furiously Google the project in hopes of finding something intelligent to say.” Little did she realize that she would be hired in a few weeks and begin one of the most successful projects at Weitzman.

ECHO is a model that originated in New Mexico by the genius mind of Dr. Sanjeev Arora (1). However, the WI team has taken ECHO to a whole new level with the help of numerous doctors and medical providers who participate each week in the hopes of improving the quality of care for Community Health Center (CHC) patients. The ECHO model is a simple one. The idea is to have experts in certain medical fields dedicate some of their time each week, to videoconference a group of primary care providers (PCP), and coach them so that the PCPs can better help patients with complicated health problems. Today, Project ECHO at WI has multiple branches including Pain, HIV/Hep C, and an upcoming Behavioral Health ECHO. When asked about how she feels to be involved in the formation of such a successful project, Khushbu seemed to beam as she modestly remarked that, “its fantastic because I could never have imagined that it would morph into something that has a life of its own.”

Khushbu’s involvement in the success of ECHO is only one of her many accomplishments. In 3+ years with Weitzman, she has published two papers. Her first publication was in May 2013 titled, “Project ECHO: Replicating a Novel Model to Enhance Access.” (2) As a research assistant, she has also been involved in the writing of numerous grants. She shares with me that, “my first successful grant was from the Vertex Foundation for $50K but I am most proud of my $500K grant for Project Next Steps.” Project Next Steps is a randomized control trial of Project ECHO: Pain. The focus of Project Next Steps is to study the effects that ECHO has had. The project is a huge undertaking by WI (if you could not tell from the $500K price tag) and has the potential for huge improvements in patient care.

For Khushbu, the work is never done since there is always room for improvement. After all, the rest of her salubrious co-workers at Weitzman operate with the understanding that the current health care systems is not perfect and improvement is necessary for the benefit of both patients and frontline health care professionals. At the end of our conversation, Khushbu shared with me her excitement for the PCORI project, which is scheduled to start in January 2015.

In my short time at Weitzman thus far, I have learned that her co-workers and anyone who has worked with Khushbu has come to respect her knowledge and strong work-ethic. It is for those reasons that she and the projects she has worked on deserve the spotlight this week.

Through the eyes of Khushbu, we learn about some of Weitzman’s most successful projects. If you would like more information about Project ECHO, Project Next Steps, or other Weitzman initiatives, please visit our website ( or contact Khushbu directly at ( I also encourage you to visit the websites cited below for more details.


Cheers and enjoy this comic :)

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Protect Yourself this Flu Season: Learn More About the Vaccine

Flu season is ahead

What You Need to Know about the 2014-2015 Flu Season

Prepared by: Mary Kovacevic, PharmD Candidate, Class of 2015

University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy

Reviewed by: Marissa Salvo, PharmD, BCACP

Assistant Clinical Professor

University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy


1.What is the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine protects against the three or four strains of flu virus that research indicates will be the most common during the upcoming flu season. Most vaccines are administered via a shot while another is administered intranasally.

 2. When is the “flu season?”

 The “flu season” can begin as early as October and continue through as long as May. Typically, the peak in flu season occurs after December.

3. What types of flu vaccines are available?

 There are several flu vaccines available for the 2014-2015 flu season.

Trivalent flu vaccines protect against three strains of flu viruses, two influenza A viruses (H1N1 and H3N2) and an influenza B virus.

  • Standard dose trivalent shots are manufactured using virus grown in eggs. These vaccines are approved for use in ages 6 months and up.
  • An intradermal trivalent shot uses a much smaller needle compared to the standard vaccine. The intradermal vaccine is approved for use in ages 18 to 64 years old.
  • A high dose trivalent shot is approved for use in ages 65 and older.
  • A recombinant trivalent shot, which is egg free, is approved for use in ages 18 to 49 years old.

The quadrivalent flu vaccine contains the same influenza A and B strains and also an additional influenza B strain.

  • A standard dose quadrivalent shot is available that is injected into the muscle, usually the arm.
  • A quadrivalent nasal spray is approved for use in ages 2 to 49 years old.

4.Who should get vaccinated this season?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine.

Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of complications from the flu, such as children younger than 2 years old, adults 65 years of age and older, and pregnant women.

5.How does the flu vaccine work?

The flu vaccine exposes your body to a very small amount the virus to help your body create antibodies. The antibodies prepare your body to fight the flu when you are exposed to any of the strains later on during flu season.

6. When should I get vaccinated?

 Vaccination should begin as soon after the vaccine becomes available. The flu vaccine is typically available as early as late July or early August (depending on the manufacturer) and will continue to be available throughout the flu season.

The earlier you get your flu vaccine the better, so you are protected throughout the entire flu season.

7.Does the flu vaccine work right away?

It takes two weeks for the antibodies to develop and the body to provide full protection against the virus. This is why it is best to get vaccinated prior to the start of “flu season” so you are fully protected.

8.What are the common side effects from the flu vaccine?

Based on the formulation, the side effects can differ.

Flu shot

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Low grade fever
  • Muscle aches

Nasal Spray

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Cough

9.What are the risks from getting a flu shot?

 The risk of a flu shot causing serious harm or death is extremely small. However, like any medicine, can cause severe allergic reactions. Almost all people who get the flu shot have no serious problems from the vaccine.

1. Why should I get vaccinated every year?

The body’s immune response declines over time, so a yearly vaccination is important for the best protection. The vaccine is updated every year to keep up with the changing flu strains; therefore, receiving a vaccination every year is important to be protected against the season’s flu strains.

2. Can I get the flu even though I received the flu vaccine this year?

Yes. There is still a possibility you can get the flu even though you got vaccinated. The flu vaccine protects against the most common flu strains; however, there are many strains of the flu. Even if the strains do not “match” those included in the year’s vaccine, receiving the vaccination can still help your body fight off the flu.

Also since is takes two weeks after receiving the vaccine to develop protection against the flu, if you were already exposed to the virus before receiving your vaccination, you can still get the flu.

3. Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

No. The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu illness. The available vaccines are made in different ways. The vaccines that are administered with a needle are either made with inactive viruses or do not contain the viruses at all (recombinant flu vaccine). The nasal spray contains weakened (attenuated) live viruses, which cannot cause the flu.

4. How effective is the flu vaccine?

  How well the flu vaccine works can vary from season to season. The effectiveness also depends on who is being vaccinated. Recent studies have shown that the flu vaccine benefits public heath and reduces hospitalizations due to the flu.

5. Where can I find more information about the flu vaccine?

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides excellent information about the flu and the flu vaccine. For more information, visit:

What you Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;. Web site. Updated September 16, 2014; Accessed September 28,2014.

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The Fourth AmeriCorps Member Introduction!

Continuing in our series of weekly introductions, we are introducing My Phuong this week! She is an AmeriCorps member serving at the Weitzman Institute, who you may recognize as the writer bringing us the Weitzman Weekly. Read her introduction below:

Hello! My name is My Phuong and I am from the state of Washington. I recently graduated from Colby College, a small liberal arts school in Waterville, ME. It was there that I received my BA in Biology (Cell and Molecular Biology/Biochemistry) and Classical Civilizations. I have always wanted to be a doctor and more importantly, a doctor who is serves populations that are most vulnerable and neglected by our health care system. My passion for public health ignited during my junior year when I studied abroad in Brazil, Vietnam, and South Africa. It was in those three countries that I redefined my view of health care.

As an AmeriCorps member, I contribute to research projects for the Weitzman Institute. Although the projects are diverse, they all focus on improving the quality of health care provided to patients seen at the community health centers. The staff at WI has gone above and beyond to welcome me and integrate me into their workplace.

In my free time, I love to be active whether it is in the gym or out on the water. As a child my parents often referred to me as a fish because of how much I love water sports. I love to swim, paddleboard, kayak, canoe, you name it! I especially enjoyed my time as a lifeguard teaching little kids how to swim.

I have never been in Connecticut for an extended period of time but I look forward to exploring what this state has to offer. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps member and I hope to make a lasting impact.

my phuong

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Food Day 2014, Join us for the Apple Crunch!

food day

Friday October 24th is the 4th annual National Food Day!  It is a day that encourages Americans to eat healthier by inspiring changes in their own diets and the country’s food policies.  Thousands of events around the country to bring people together to celebrate and enjoy real food.

To commemorate Food Day this year Community Health Center, Inc. is participating in the ‘Apple Crunch!’  It is a fun event taking place across the country in which the individuals all come together to take a ‘crunch’ from an apple simultaneously. We hope this will get a large turn out and spark the conversation on healthy eating!

Here at CHC our employees will bring in apples and we will provide apples for our patients so everyone can participate! Eight of our sites will be celebrating Food Day with hosts at each to provide nutrition information for the patients and keep the enthusiasm level up!

If you want to join us to support the Food Day efforts crunch an apple at 11:30 AM and share it! You can show us your pledge on twitter, at #CHCFOODDAY and other statewide and national hashtags: #EatRightCT #CTAppleCrunch #FoodDay2014 and #RealFoodJustFood!

For more info on the statewide apple crunch visit Connecticut’s own:

To host the event various area organizations have donated apples for the patients including Price Chopper, Rogers Orchards, ShopRite, Danbury’s Farmers Market, and Big Y. We thank them all for their efforts to help us encourage Americans to participate in our part of National Food Day!

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Weitzman Weekly

Spotlight: Journal Club

So you’ve heard of book clubs but what about journal clubs? Earlier this year, the Weitzman Institute’s Director of Research and Evaluation, Ianita Zlateva started a journal club for Community Health Center, Inc. Journal Club has been ramping up since its official start in early August. I sat down with Bridget Teevan, the current coordinator of Journal Club to learn more.

My Phuong: What is journal club?

Bridget JC

Bridget Teevan looking through academic journals for articles.

Bridget: Journal Club is a monthly gathering that occurs through video-conference line. Each month, a different leader picks an interesting article related to community health, research, or quality improvement for the group to read and discuss. We talk about the article to see how we can apply its ideas or methods to improve the quality of care given by CHC.

My Phuong: When and how did it start?

Bridget: The initiative started early this summer. Originally, the project was tested on staff at Weitzman in order to sort through the logistics of a monthly journal club. After we worked out some of the problems, we opened Journal Club to the organization starting in August.  I think Ianita started Journal Club in the hope that it will foster growth among the CHC staff.

My Phuong: What exactly is your role in Journal Club?

Bridget: As the coordinator, I ask for volunteers to present articles then look over the article to make sure that it is appropriate before sending out invites and reminders to potential attendees. Essentially, I take care of the logistics so that there can be a Journal Club meeting every month.

My Phuong: Who can participate in Journal Club?

Bridget: We encourage any and all CHC staff members to try and attend at least one Journal Club meeting. There are agency-wide email invites that prospective participants can accept in order to video-conference in to the meeting. Even if you have not read the article, we still encourage you to listen in and learn or share related experiences.

In addition, anyone at CHC can lead Journal Club. All you have to do is email me (Bridget Teevan, an article to share with the rest of the organization and I can help you get ready for leading the next Journal Club.

My Phuong: What should CHC staff expect to see from Journal Club in the future?

Bridget: We are always looking to improve the way Journal Club is run to make it easier and more accessible to CHC staff. In the future, we are hoping to record Journal Clubs and post the videos online so that staff with schedule conflicts can still be involved with Journal Club. In addition, we are thinking of “hosting” Journal Club at different sites so that the staff at those sites can attend live rather than via Zoom or phone call. If anyone at CHC has any other suggestions please feel free to contact me.

That was my interview with Bridget Teevan. I encourage all CHC staff to attend the next Journal Club meeting taking place November 5th from 12-1PM. I have the honor of leading the next Journal Club meeting and am extremely excited to share an article I found. CHC staff should look out for an email from Bridget with the invite to the event and the article attached. Feel free to reach out to Bridget or I if you want us to make sure that you get that email! If you are not from CHC and would like help starting a journal club, please contact Bridget or I.

For CHC staff, we hope to see or hear from you at the next Journal Club meeting.

Cheers and enjoy this comic :)

Comic JC

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Talking to Children about Ebola

The following is a message from Dr. Tim Kearney, Chief Behavioral Health Officer here at CHC about how to talk with children about Ebola, adapted to the blog.

All of us as parents and those who work with children wish that we could protect them from the knowledge of the tragedies that occur in the world around them and from the impact that this knowledge has on them. Unfortunately we cannot; especially in this age of constant news feeds and social media.  We must therefore help them to develop the skills to cope with what happened and structure their world to make their response as manageable as possible.  As with the many shootings and terrorist activities that have flooded the media and  invaded our lives in the past years, so too the recent horror of the deaths from Ebola and the various risks and fears the disease raises must be addressed with our children.

Like adults, children need accurate information about what happened.  Give them the facts as they are known, and correct details as more information becomes available.   Be on the lookout for misinformation or fears they may have that are based on incorrect understandings. A child who is afraid to go to school for fear of contracting the disease from others there may be reassured to hear that there are only a few cases in the United States, which are far away, and that basic hygiene practices such as hand washing may help to keep one safe.    Deliver this information in age appropriate ways.  Young children just need the basics – “There is a disease that started in Africa call Ebola. Ebola makes people very sick and some die.  It is spread by the bodily fluids of someone with the disease – by touching their blood or poop or pee.  Only a few people have had it so far in America.”  Be guided by your child’s response as to how much information to give them.  As children ask questions, give them accurate information to the best of your ability or let them know you do not know the answer and will check into their concerns and get back to them when you do know.  Older children are more likely to be curious and ask more questions/ Let their interest be your guide as to how much to go into it.  Too much information can be as bad as too little.  Manage your own fears and anxieties.  Children will take their cue from how you act as much or more than from what you say.

Common concerns children will raise include:

  1. Wanting to know where people are sick.  Younger children will assume that whatever they see on the media is right around the corner, and may think that a police car or ambulance going by their window is responding.  Give them an accurate sense of the distance and if possible tie it into a reference that will make sense to them.  “Africa is a long plane ride from here.  The people who brought it to the United States have been in Georgia, Maryland, Texas and Ohio, not near here.”
  2. Wanting to know how widespread the disease is.  Seeing the news over and over children they may think that each report is about a new occurrence and that the disease is everywhere. Reassure them with accurate information.  “There are just a few people sick in the US right now, but the TV keeps talking about it and it seems like there are many different ones.  In other parts of the world like Africa, there are a lot more.”  Turn off the TV and do not subject your children to more information that they need about this.
  3. Wanting to know if anyone they know was hurt.  Younger children in particular may ask about specific people they know.  If news reports mention a location they may think that hearing “Dallas” or “Ohio” means that their grandparents or whoever they know in that state or city is already sick or in danger.  Older children are more likely to have a compassionate response for those stricken.  Acknowledge and support their emotions and take whatever action is appropriate within the context of your family’s believes (praying for the families involved, participating in giving to send help to victims, participating in community activities, and so on.)
  4. Wanting to know that they are safe.  This can be both an immediate concern – does anyone in my family have the disease right now, or a longer term worry that they or those they love may not be safe in the future.  Do not offer meaningless reassurance – any one is potentially in danger.  But talk about how the disease works, what precautions can help people not get it, and give a realistic picture of what the risk is to your child and/or those he or she loves. “Although thousands of people in the world have gotten Ebola and become sick and died, and even a few in this country, there are many who have gotten it and gotten better, and even more who never caught it in the first place.   Most people are OK.”   Let your children know that you and their loved ones will be there to help them through any problems.  Give them concrete practices, such as telling them to sing “Happy Birthday” while they wash their hands to ensure that they give them a thorough scrubbing.
  5. Needing some way to express their feelings of anger, fear, concern, or relief.  In age appropriate ways engage your child in drawing, play, or verbal discussions.
  6. Wanting to know why this happened.  The direct response is the best.  Explanations of how the disease is spread help. Depending on the age of the child, they may ask more specific questions.   Older children may ask the more difficult question of why someone would knowingly take the risk of giving it to others. Be guided by your own belief systems and explain to your child as you would any other area of life.
  7. Wanting to know what they can do to help.  This tragedy can be an opportunity to model and to teach compassion.  Pray together or attend a religious service dedicated to those who are suffering or dying with the disease if that is a part of your family’s practice.  Donate money or give time to those organizations working to fight the disease or help those impacted.

There are some actions parents can take as well:

  1. Reassure children about their safety and the safety of those they love. If you have family or friends who in involved in the treatment of those with the diseases, help you children understand Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other means that those caring for the sick take precautions to stay safe.  If your child is fearful of catching the disease themselves review how the disease is caught and universal precaution steps that can be taken by everyone.
  2. Limit children’s exposure to TV and other media.  Turn of the stream of information and redirect your child’s attention to other matters unrelated Ebola.
  3. Talk to adults about your own reactions – do not use your children to think though your own fears and worries about their safety.  Turn to your own supports – family and friends.  You must take care of yourself so that you can care for your children.
  4. Reach out to professionals such as your child’s primary care provider, school staff, school based health center staff, therapists, clergy, or others who know children and can guide you in how best to help your child.

Most children will be fine with support.  Those with previous trauma or who are already anxious may need additional help from parents and family or professionals.

The following links also provide good resources:   A review of facts to present to children, this post also include additional resources for parents and older children  A short article with specific information about the origin of the disease, symptoms, and spread written in language that can be understood by older children or easily translated into simpler words for younger ones.  Another short article with specific facts and guidelines for good health practices that can be read by other children or explained to younger ones.  Link to the Center for Disease Control’s Ebola information fact sheet.


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Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, National Program Director, RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, Anna D. Wolf Chair of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and National Program Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars. She discusses the Danger Assessment and Lethality Assessment tools she developed to assist clinicians, patients and law enforcement dealing with domestic violence issues.

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