We’re Here to Help

This is an email from Mark Masselli to CHC Staff, adapted for the blog.

Greetings,

We’re here to help and we do – whether you’re a physician practice in Colorado, a Health Center in Maine or a homeless person in Danbury, Connecticut.

Yesterday was a great example of CHC’s reach and impact – here and across the country.

Ever since we started CHC forty three years ago, people have seen our expertise and come to us looking for help starting important programs or to open sites near them.  It often is a long complicated and sometimes frustrating process to get from the grand idea to the grand opening.

Yesterday, we saw three great ideas come to fruition.  We opened a new Wherever You Are homeless clinic in Danbury.  We grew our eConsults program from a research project for CHC to an important program to improve access to specialist care across New England.  We took our expertise with Project ECHO to help train a new group of primary care providers throughout the State of Colorado in improved Pain Management.

It took a lot of work from our dedicated staff.  Thank you to everyone who helped, led, supported or applauded these projects.  They are just three more ways every one of us at CHC provides world class primary care, especially for underserved populations. Tomorrow is another opportunity for us to help and I know you’ll be there. Thank you.

Peace and Health
Mark Masselli
President/CEO
Community Health Center, Inc

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A New On-Site Medical Director for Norwalk and Stamford!

This morning all of Community Health Center’s staff received an email from our Chief Medical Officer, Veena Channamasetty M.D. announcing the new onsite medical director for our Nowalk and Stamford sites. Read on for the announcement:  

I’m excited to  announce the selection of Nicole Seagriff as the new OSMD for Norwalk and Stamford.

Nicole has been with CHC since 2011 when she joined the Family Nurse Practitioner Residency Program in  Meriden and after graduation joined the Norwalk Site. Nicole has been practicing at the Norwalk site for almost three years, during which she has gained the respect and confidence of her patients, colleagues and peers.  She participates in multiple QI projects, ECHO, and is now a resident preceptor herself!

Nicole completed her training at Yale University and is currently completing her Doctor of Nursing Practice at Duke University, while working full time at CHC.  Nicole has also been national figure in Breast Cancer Awareness.

Danbury, Stamford and Norwalk have grown over the past few years both in terms of number of patients served and the number of staff members working. I want to give a huge thank you to Monte Wagner for his leadership of all three sites over the past years;  as the sites grew and region expanded!  In recognition of this continued growth, we wanted to expand leadership to the region and have made the decision to create two On Site Medical Directors.  I know we have 2 wonderful and committed leaders in Monte (in Danbury) and Nicole.

Please join me in congratulating Nicole in her new role as the OSMD to Norwalk and Stamford!

nicole seagriff aprn

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Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, Founder and President of The Civic Engine

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, Founder of The Civic Engine which assists civic leaders in strengthening the economic drivers of health in communities. The long-time Director of Occupational and Environmental Health for San Francisco, Dr. Bhatia developed innovative Health Impact Assessment tools to improve health throughout all sectors of the city focusing on open data sharing and transparency.

 

 

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Connecticut Mission of Mercy 2015, a look back on last weekend’s clinic

CT Mission of Mercy 2015:   by Julia Sisson

Every year, dental care providers throughout Connecticut gather at the Mission of Mercy, a free clinic offering services to patients both insured and uninsured. The event is only two days long, but patients line up days in advance and come from as far as Maine to take part in the services provided. This year, Mission of Mercy set up its clinic in Danbury at the Western Connecticut State University’s Westside campus, with a bit of help from CHC’s AmeriCorps team. Though long and pretty exhausting, we were all exposed to an incredible team of dentists, hygienists, nurses, and surgeons who donated their time and supplies for an admirable cause.

CTMOM

The first day of the clinic started out a little rocky, as the AmeriCorps team ambled into the site around 4:45 in the morning. After finding the very necessary coffee station, we set out to the dental clinic area. We were not the first ones there, though: a line of patients had already formed outside the doors. In fact, a number of people had stayed the night waiting in line, braving both cold and snow to be first in the doors at the 6:00 opening. The AmeriCorps members of the National Civilian Conservation Corps were even passing out hand warmers for patients to use to keep themselves from getting frostbite.

Once the doors opened, the building was a flurry of activity. Patients were registered and escorted through medical and dental triage, provided by nursing volunteers. Standard cleanings were available, but so were more complicated procedures: root canals, crowns, fillings, and extractions kept dentists and hygienists busy throughout the day until closing at 5. The CHC AmeriCorps did our part by assisting with setup, registering patients, escorting individuals to different stations, and even providing outreach for CHC dental services. By the end of the day, we sleepily made our way back to our different lodgings, excited for bed but happy that we had done our part

CTMOM2

The CT MOM experience was a hugely positive one. I witnessed firsthand the patients who finally received dental care after years without a checkup or cleaning. Even after a root canal or wisdom tooth extraction, some would return for a cleaning or another procedure, excited to have the opportunity to care for their teeth. I was deeply moved both by the hard work of the dental care professionals and the gratitude of the patients alike.

For me, Mission of Mercy embodies the power of giving in the health care setting, and its positive effects throughout a community. As members of community health care, it is sometimes difficult to see how our day-to-day activities can impact a large group of people. However, in an event like Mission of Mercy, it is clear just how many people need affordable basic services, and the difference that these services can make in a person’s life. I have a renewed sense of gratitude for my work and the field I enjoy, and am excited to continue into the future.

 

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Service with Habitat for Humanity to finish Americorps Week!

For the fifth and final day of Americorps Week 2015, our group traveled to a construction site in New Haven to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven. 603 Sherman Parkway is Habitat for Humanity’s 11th build and is expected to be completed by early summer! A group of us had previously volunteered in October with Habitat, helping to paint and refurbish the central warehouse. We were excited to get our hands dirty, brave the cold weather, and do some real construction this time around!

When we arrived at the site early on Friday morning, there was considerable work to be done – the truck filled with tools and 80-pound concrete bags needed to be unloaded and the porch foundations had to be dug out and filled with concrete before it rained the next day. In addition, other Americorps members set to work nailing plywood boards into the rafters to create the base for a porch roof to be completed. They also finished laying down tar paper, a base layer for roofing shingles.  By the end of the day, Nam and My Phuong had become experts in concrete-mixing, Zach, Eliza and Elena successfully completed the porch foundations and Kristin and KellyAnn had made significant progress on the roof! We really enjoyed the chance to be outside for the day, add manual labor to our repertoire, and work together to help build a home for a family in need. It was rewarding to be able to contribute even just a day’s work towards the house and we are looking forward to volunteering again with Habitat when it is warmer out!

HH2 HH 1

By: Eliza Hompe

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Dr. John Lumpkin, Sr. Vice President at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. John Lumpkin, Sr. VP and Director of Targeted Teams at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Dr. Lumpkin oversees the RWJF project targeting childhood obesity and talks about the myriad strategies aimed reducing the obesity epidemic among the nation’s children. 

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The Fourth Day of AmeriCorps Week at Open Door Shelter

On Thursday, March 12th, the HealthCorps members hosted a career fair at the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk, CT as part of AmeriCorps Week. Approximately 20 people received career counseling, free interview attire, mock interviews, and resume assistance at the shelter, just a block away from the Community Health Center on Day Street. Eliza Hompe, an AmeriCorps member based in Fairfield County, has previously worked with some of the shelter’s residents as a Community Resource Advocate, providing assistance with non-medical needs such as housing. She felt a career fair at the Open Door Shelter would be a great way to empower residents, provide a much-needed service, and strengthen the community while simultaneously harnessing the talents and enthusiasm of our AmeriCorps group!

HealthCorps members served attendees of a career fair at the Open Door Shelter.

HealthCorps members served attendees of a career fair at the Open Door Shelter.

For attendees unsure of what career might be best for them, Karen Anderson used the Environment and Personality Intuitive Card Sort (EPICS) to help them understand their own unique strengths and preferences. The assessment, consisting of 108 picture cards to elicit intuitive, cognitive, and emotional responses, allows people to discover potential areas of interest and move forward with career exploration. “EPICS test said I was an Artistic Personality who preferred Realistic Environments. I think that describes me well, since I want to go into social work,” remarked an attendee.

AmeriCorps members scoured the internet for open job postings and used Craigslist to find jobs each resident would be interested in and had the skillset and experience for. Residents and community members interested in furthering their education received information about nearby literacy and ESL classes from a Norwalk Library staff member. Others pored over admissions and financial aid informational packets from Western Connecticut State University and did mock interviews with career counselors from Ability Beyond, an organization that specializes in helping individuals with disabilities.

A clothing drive at the Community Health Center sites in Norwalk, Stamford, Danbury, New Britain, and New London and The Red Barn Thrift Shop in Woodbury provided professional clothes for people excited about future job interviews. Racks of suits, shirts and pants in every size and dozens of dress shoes and heels filled a corner of the room of the shelter. The residents were incredibly excited to try on outfits and have the opportunity to shop and browse the racks! They were truly “dressed for success” and the confidence bolstered by their new, professional look will hopefully translate to a great first impression with local employers.

One man was interested in continuing his education and, in particular, enrolling in a course to become an emergency medical technician. Priti Shah tirelessly searched for EMT-B courses with him and reached out to Norwalk Community College to get course schedules and registration information. For him, it was the first steps towards his dream job. Another resident reviewed her comprehensive work history with Nam Duong, who helped her write a resume and apply to two jobs in Norwalk through the internet. One of the positions she was interested in, a valet attendant, required knowing how to operate a manual transmission. “She laughed and told me stories about her first car, a manual Chevy, and how she loved riding motorcycles. Listening to her personal story and learning about her aspirations was immensely rewarding for me. I came to understand her not only as someone in need, but someone seeking to live life in a way that made her happy.”

AmeriCorps members are grateful for the support of the Community Health Center, Inc. and its staff in putting on the career fair event. Timothy Spagnola and Catrice Ghannam, clinical recruitment and human resource specialists at CHC, provided individuals at the Open Door Shelter with services including resume writing, one-on-one mock interviews, and career advice. “It was a very rewarding experience and we were both thankful to be able to help in some small capacity with our organizational mission,” said Timothy Spagnola.

AmeriCorps Week at Open Door Shelter

Aniella Fignon (L) and Eliza Hompe (R) were excited to talk about the event with Channel 12 News reporters.

With all of the services offered and the partnerships of different organizations in the Norwalk community, the career fair generated a lot of buzz. Channel 12 News even came to cover the event and interviewed Open Door Shelter staff and several AmeriCorps members.

For residents, a job means a chance at stability and security. One of the residents said, “I feel confident now. There are so many things I worry about every day, but because of this event, I feel like I can get a job.” We were excited to dedicate a day of our AmeriCorps Service Week to empower these individuals and help them take the first steps towards pursuing rewarding careers.

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The Third Day of AmeriCorps Week – Serving at Master’s Manna

CHC Masters Manna (22)-LDuring our week of service, the AmeriCorps members of the Community Health Center took some time to help both medical and non-medical services throughout the state. We spent time honing our less-used skills of light construction, furniture moving, and even resume building: though this was fun for us, it was certainly a great burden lifted from the shoulders of the organizations we visited. On Wednesday, March 11, we headed to Wallingford to lend our hands to Master’s Manna, a food pantry and resource center. Master’s Manna just expanded their organization to the entirety of the building they occupy, and needed help moving furniture and shifting space to accommodate their new needs.

We arrived early on Wednesday to be greeted by an enthusiastic Cheryl Trzcinski,who welcomed us to the pantry and showed us what was needed. Mrs. Trzcinski, the co-founder and CEO of Master’s Manna, explained how the pantry had just received a huge shipment of quilting materials. She hoped these could be used later in a quilting class whose pieces could be sold for fundraising purposes. Some of us were directed towards other needs, such as organizing recent supply donations and cleaning recently acquired spaces; however, most of us got to work unpacking and shelving hundreds of yards of textiles.

Most of the day was taken up by quilting projects, but this job was never dull. Established volunteers and employees of the resource center stopped by to check on our progress, thank us for our efforts, and offer some fun stories and anecdotes throughout the process. Cheryl herself would often stop by, hugely excited, and thank us profusely for our efforts. Even while we were simply moving shelves and unpacking boxes of fabric, we could really feel the effects of our efforts in the Master’s Manna community.

We were surprised when, midway through the afternoon, we managed to sort our last box of fabrics. We had filled half a room with empty tubs and the other half with neatly stacked (and sorted by color) reams of different materials. When Mrs. Trzcinski came by to see our finished work, she nearly jumped up and down with excitement. We could all really feel the effects of our hard work in that moment, and we were given some well-deserved time to relax before supporting other miscellaneous projects in the building.

Wednesday was certainly a different sort of work than many of us usually take on at the Community Health Center. However, it cemented for most AmeriCorps members the real differences we could make even doing something as simple as organizing fabric. Our efforts truly aided an organization – and population – in need, and the thanks we received in return was equally validating. I am pleased that we got the chance to work in Wallingford, and I hope that our group can return in the future with equal excitement.

Written by Julia Sisson

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The Second Day of AmeriCorps Week, Serving Meals in New London!

For the second day of AmeriCorps Week the CHC HealthCorps members and I took a trip down to shore where we spent the day to volunteering at the New London Community Meal Center. The Meal center was established in 1985 and was created to provide nutritious meals to the food insecure residents of the New London County. In one year the New London Meal Center provides about 73,518 meals to 35,000 people. The Meal Center has very few employees so volunteers are always a vital part of being able to provide this service to so many people.

We spent our day split up into two teams, the kitchen team and the dining room team. The kitchen group prepared a great meal of hamburgers, soup and French fries. This group said that they had a really fun time bonding with each other. I was part of the dining room team and it was great to look back at the kitchen and see the occasional dancing from the meal center staff. They looked like they were having a great time! The dining room group set up near the entrance to the Meal Center and performed outreach on 3 topics. The three topics were Family Health History, Career Services and WYA (Wherever You Are – Healthcare for the Homeless program). We really enjoyed talking to the residents and listening to the stories that they had to tell.

Today was an amazing opportunity to visit and help another CHC Community! I cannot wait for the next New London service project!

NL SOup Kitchen ACW2

By: Dahiana Guzman

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Kicking Off AmeriCorps Week Giving Back to the Middletown Community

FWC AmeriCorps Week

A warm sunny day was the perfect way to kick-off Americorps Week, as CHC’s Americorps team took on their first project: the renovation of the Family Wellness Center. In collaboration with the Community Health Center and several other programs in the Middletown community, The Family Wellness Center offers free programs for children and their families. It has been a constant ‘home’ for many of the families of CHC and of the Middletown Community for more than 25 years, resulting in a lot of wear and tear on the building, toys, and furniture. The Americorps group saw the opportunity to improve upon and update the space in order to make it more welcoming to the already loyal FWC families, as well as more of the Middletown community.

The team separated into two groups—one focused on cleaning and re-organizing the inside of the building, while another focused on sanding and re-painting four of the wood benches that constitute the main furniture of the play-room. It took more than 6 hours, a lot of garbage bags, and even more elbow-grease, but the Family Wellness center is looking better than ever! The space looks clean and streamlined, and the benches will soon be painted to align with CHC’s main colors of bright green and orange.

We will soon be planning an ‘unveiling’ day to show off all of our hard work, and would love for anyone to stop in and check out what we’ve done! Please keep an eye out for more details on this event!

By KellyAnn Rooney

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