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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The Third AmeriCorp Member Introduction!

This week we are introducing a third Community Health Corps AmeriCorps member serving with Community Health Center in Danbury this year, Priti! Read her introduction below:

My name is Priti Shah, and I am partnered with Community Health Center (CHC) for the upcoming year to promote Access to Care and Wherever You Are programs in Danbury, Connecticut.

I am from Sumter, South Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduating with degrees in Biology and Spanish, I worked as a medical assistant and volunteered as an EMT in Durham, North Carolina. With passions to pay-it-forward and engage with my cultural roots, I served as an Indicorps Fellow in India and embraced the Indicorps motto, “service for the soul” to strengthen Palliative Care Mysore, a community-based palliative care program.

To continue to pay-it-forward and understand holistic care in United States, I joined AmeriCorps’ Healthcorps program with Community Health Center.  I am excited to engage with the community and continue learning to prepare for a future career in public health and medicine.  I hope to demonstrate perseverance and value-based leadership I learned from running and Indicorps.  With inspirational support from others and personal determination, I look forward to the upcoming year!


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The Power of Knowledge to Save Nutrition

Nutrition and proper dieting plays a huge role in our lives on a daily basis whether we consciously think about it or we don’t. It can help with a slew of different medical issues in today’s society. Proper nutrition can help a large amount of health issues ranging from medical conditions pertaining to heart disease, obesity, cancers, and other issues that plague us today. Most people don’t realize the magnitude of how a healthy diet can affect even something as simple as your sleep patterns.

People in our healthcare forum every day like Kara Ellis who’s our Lead Dietician in New Britain understands. She’s been with our Community Health Center for almost four years, but she has done an array of things in her career so far. She received a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition at New York University and before taking her job at CHC she worked on a hit show for the Food Network with a Dietician named Ellie Krieger. Even though she enjoyed her experiences before CHC, her love is working with underserved populations. She believes that, “nutrition education and preventative care are necessities to building healthy communities and I love being a part of that.”

When Kara heard the news of the Department of Social Services discussing regulations that might eliminate nutrition and dietician services for reimbursement purposes to the Federally Qualified Health Centers she was unhappy. She wanted to show the importance of what a healthy nutrition does for the human body and the overall quality of life. She put her love and knowledge for what she loves to do every day and worked with the DSS attorneys and policy staff to examine the literature and issues.

As the efforts started brewing together for the DSS to make a decision after their efforts to convince they were met with success. The Department issued a revised regulation that included certified dietitians and nutritionists who can be reimbursed for their services as covered service. Kara was happy to hear the news and was grateful that the Department took the time to listen to her, “which is the most important thing when trying to change people’s decisions. If you can get them to hear you out- to have the opportunity to make a case without preconceived notions or biases- you are half the way there.”


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Dr. Eric Green, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH

This week, Mark and Margaret speak with Dr. Eric Green, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, the world’s largest organization dedicated solely to genomics research. Dr. Green was on the team that mapped the human genome and talks about new initiatives at NIH to create better platforms for storing and sharing big data in this new era of scientific research.

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Introducing the Nurse Practitioner Residents!

CHC has welcomed another class of Nurse Practitioner Residents to our program this fall! They will be gaining experience throughout the sites while bringing their new perspectives. There are ten residents at our sites across Connecticut, but for the first time CHC is also remotely-hosting a program for four NP Residents in Washington State, at the Yakima Valley Farm Worker’s Clinic and Columbia Basin Health Association.

We will be introducing them all on the blog here every other Thursday, as with the AmeriCorps Members.

NP resident 2014.15 CHC group

It is our pleasure to introduce Dana Kroop this week, one of the residents who is based in Norwalk. Please read her introduction below!

I graduated from the University of Chicago in 2007 with a BA in the History and Philosophy of Science, and then more recently from the University of Illinois at Chicago with my MSN. As a graduate of an accelerated degree program, I am thrilled to join CHC’s residency class and gain more experience in providing holistic care for our nation’s neediest patients. I have worked as a Camp Nurse in Indiana, gone on deployment as a Disaster Response Nurse for the American Red Cross, and served on medical missions to Guatemala and Ghana. Before I became a nurse I worked as an educator at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. I think that if I hadn’t become a nurse, I’d still be running slumber parties with families and dinosaurs. While in Chicago, I also performed with Funny Bones Improv – an improvisational comedy group that performs in the Child Life Centers of pediatric hospitals. I love musical theater, and plan to try and experience lots of live theater in New York over the coming year.

Kroop, Dana

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Janet Marchibroba, Executive Director of CEO Council on Health and Innovation at the Bipartisan Policy Center

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Janet Marchibroda, Executive Director of the CEO Council on Health and Innovation at the Bipartisan Policy Center. The Council, comprised of 9 CEO’s from some of the country’s largest employers, just released a report: Building Better Health: Innovative Strategies from America’s Business Leaders, which lays out recommended actions for business leaders to assist in containing health care costs and improving outcomes.

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