Peter Speyer, Chief Data and Technology Officer at IHME

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Peter Speyer, Chief Data and Technology Officer at the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation at the University of Washington. Mr. Speyer discusses their ground-breaking ongoing global health report, Global Burden of Disease, which utilizes big data analytics to provide an accurate measure of diseases leading to morbidity and mortality in 200 countries around the world.

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A Health Fair and an Open House, both in Fairfield County

Yesterday was busy for CHC in Fairfield County as we provided health and wellness education at a summer camp and had an open house at our facility in Stamford.

Amy Taylor, Vice President, Western Region wrote about the camp:

Yesterday, 11 CHC staff members spent the morning providing health and wellness education to over 140 middle school children from Stamford and Norwalk at the Horizon’s summer camp.  The health fair was conceptualized and organized by Fairfield County’s Americorps member, Rishonda Thomas.  The success of the event is unquestionable.  From the huge smiles during the lively Zumba classes, to the intimate conversations on mental health issues with Dr. Armah, to the milk mustaches and photo booth with Bridget, Sara, and Lucy as the kids definitely learned a lot.  The other stations included nutrition education with Heather and Sayali, healthy eating with Brendan and Angelica, oral health instruction with Mary Ann, yoga, and overall fitness activities.

A huge thank you to Rishonda for pulling this together and providing an exceptional day for the children, as well as to Heather, Lucy, Angelica, Brendan, Sara, Bridget, Sayali, Mary Ann and Dr. Armah for giving your energy and time to the community.

 President and CEO, Mark Masselli added in

This is why we all signed up for the work we do – to serve and to inspire – I’m sure many of those young people walked away with a new horizon

Well done !

Senior Vice President and Clinical Director, Margaret Flinter, commented

Wow! Simply amazing! And those photos say it all

Thank you all!

You can see the pictures on our Facebook page.  Also on our Facebook page, you can see pictures of the Open House on Care Coordination at Stamford.  Amy Taylor wrote about the open house saying

A huge thank you to everyone who helped make yesterday’s Open House in Stamford a success.  From the tours by the medical and dental teams, to the delicious snacks, and most importantly the moving presentation, which featured the story of a very complex patient who benefitted from care coordination, we demonstrated to the community and to our team the value of the work we do every day.


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Mad Hatter’s Testing Party: Highlights & Gratitude

Below is a blog post written by Doug Janssen, the Ryan White Program Outreach Coordinator of the Community Health Center, Inc. Doug was an influential member of both the planning and volunteer team efforts for this event and along with his passion for serving the community, his spirit is what made this event so unique and special. There was a wide variety of support for the Mad Hatter’s Testing Party and we thank all those who supported, attended and plan to come next year!doug yas mayor drew


First and foremost I want to thank Yasemin Kyutu for her planning and execution of this event. The event was amazing and so much more than I expected for our first year.  The Americorps folks were very energetic with ideas and suggestions as we went along and ran the tie dye event, for which I am eternally grateful. The park setting lent itself perfectly for our needs and looked totally amazing with the signs and the pink flamingos.

test tent

Walt’s tent creation was very professional looking and, likewise, was perfect for our testing needs. I’m not sure how he came up with the idea he did with the fabric, etc… but it was great.  Just great.

mayor drew

Yasemin and I met with and tested Mayor Dan Drew on Thursday prior so he would be familiar with the rapid tests when he spoke at the testing event.  He was our first speaker and we were honored to have him attend. Special thanks to the CHC testing & outreach team. Lauren Janas-Muraviov, and Natalena Fantozzi were our two main testers along with support from Michael Lauro.  With our ACA superstars, Shannon Bali, Stefan Kostolitz and Marianne Martinez running the show, and the two MAs doing the testing for CHC, things ran very smoothly.

speakers 2

The Empress Morgana Deluxe (Michael Morgan) and Emperor Trevor Reynolds of the Imperial Sovereign Court of All Connecticut made an appearance and both spoke immediately following the Mayor on the importance of testing.


State Rep Matt Lesser attended and actually agreed to be tested for both HIV and Hepatitis C.  He also said a few words to the attendees. In addition to the amazing vendors and band, our own Vinnie’s Jump & Jive performed a few group routines in the hip hop or Zumba category, which were lively and well received.

dancers 2

Not only did we have on hand many of our own testing volunteers, two testers from Latino Community Services came to help as did five from an organization called COPE, which specializes in testing and outreach in the area of Hepatitis C.


One of the many highlights of the arts fair was a surprise visit from a tree like creature that seemed to capture everyone’s attention, adults and children alike. The food venders were totally amazing!  I love Mamoons and had the BEST baba ganuj wrap ever!



We administered double the number of HIV tests we administered last year (30 total) and 40 Hepatitis C tests, which was totally amazing!  The guy from COPE that does outreach is very good at what he does.  He specifically makes it his goal to get all the vendors at events like this to get tested.


Very happy to have the State of CT, Dept of Health as a joint sponsor to this event.  They donated all the Hepatitis C rapid tests we used that day and put me in communication with COPE.  Thank you to Andrea Lombard!

doug speaking  event view 3        Last but not least, thank you to Kasey Harding Wheeler for suggesting that we take our testing event outside, schedule it on a different date and time, and make it a real event as opposed to just providing free testing somewhere.

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Dr. William Newsome, Co-Chair of the BRAIN Intitiative

This week, Mark and Margaret speak with Dr. William Newsome, Stanford University neurobiologist and co-chair of the President’s BRAIN Initiative which is seeking to map the human brain. Similar to the Human Genome Project, the BRAIN Initiative will require significant collaboration from all varied fields within neuroscience to unravel the secrets of medical science’s “final frontier” – the human brain.

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Bike Safety Day in New Britain

The blog post below was written by Sara Anderson, an AmeriCorps member who has spent the past year working directly with New Britain Families. She was also instrumental with providing support for this event!

In New Britain, one of CHC’s largest clinic sites, childhood obesity is a major concern. A committee formed from many different socially minded organizations called the ACHIEVE collaborative brainstormed ways to get kids more active, bike riding was an obvious choice.  They launched the ‘New Britain is Walkin’ and Rollin’ to School’ campaign because in New Britain many kids have bikes, but may nor ride regularly, or may ride but not have helmets.  The collaborative bought hundreds of bike helmets and locks, but then they needed an event to distribute them, which is where the AmeriCorps came in.

We planned out a bike safety day for the kids of New Britain in collaboration with Bike New Britain and Parks and Recreation.  We asked for donations from area bike shops for bike tune-ups and even received 4 donated bicycles to give away from a ‘Bikes for Kids’ charity. After weeks of preparation on a warm June morning we set up bike obstacle courses, helmet fitting stations, and excellent goodie bags (bike reflector stickers, beach balls, pencils, bike locks, and custom printed drawstring bags). We had two police officers come as our ‘safety experts’ to show the kids the ropes of the obstacle courses and the ABCs of bike safety-Air, Brakes, and Chain. We saw close to 150 3rd through 5th grade kids and gave them all helmets, about a dozen of whom had never ridden a bike before and we were able to help.  It was a very successful event, the kids and camp counselors enjoyed their time there and showing off on the trickiest of the obstacle courses.  At the end of the day we gave away 5 bikes to kids who didn’t have a bike at home, and helmets to all of them.  We hope it is a program that can continue in following years for promoting bike safety in the community!


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Senator Murphy Visits CHC

The blog post below was written by Stefan Kostolitz, one of the three amazing Outreach and Eligibility Associates who work throughout the state at CHC. This hardworking team has been enrolling people and navigating them through the new health care marketplace this past year.

Last Wednesday, July 2nd, CHC was paid a visit by U.S. Senator and local Nutmegger, Chris Murphy.  Senator Murphy visited to hear our health care enrollment advisors speak about their experience enrolling our patients and community members in insurance under the Affordable Care Act (A.C.A.).

Connecticut emerged as one of the country’s leaders in health insurance enrollment under the new law, enrolling over 208,000 residents in insurance. The organization of Connecticut’s insurance marketplace, Access Health CT, was a key reason for our state’s success.  However, without the collective help of state lawmakers, non-profit organizations, volunteers, and community health centers Connecticut could not have accomplished as much as it has.

Here at CHC, our A.C.A. Enrollment Team and Access to Care staff enrolled about 2,000 patients in health insurance and assisted over 4,500. Over the 6-month open enrollment period, CHC held 15 enrollment fairs, provided outreach to the community, and acted as a resource for information on the new law.

Chris Murphy was interested in learning from our enrollment specialists about the successes, challenges, and surprises of our nation’s first open enrollment period. Senator Murphy was given a tour of Middletown clinic and shown the multitude of services CHC provides its patients.  His visit ended at the top of the building in our roof garden, overlooking the Main Street and the Connecticut River.

There, Senator Murphy sat with our A.C.A. enrollment team and asked them about their experiences with the new law. Shannon Bali, one of our enrollment associates, expressed her excitement about working for nation-wide health care reform.  The enrollment team shared stories of how surprised and excited our patients felt at being offered Husky/Medicaid or an Access Health CT plan for the first time.  The A.C.A. team commented on the challenges of explaining the complicated process of health insurance to consumers.

Senator Murphy spoke to the room about the how the A.C.A. exceeded the expectations of many Americans. He shared that keeping Americans enrolled in insurance and teaching them how to use their new plans’ benefits will be a future difficulty. Overall, he was hopeful of the law’s ability to help uninsured Americans and eager to gather ideas of how it can improve.

With the recent celebration of July 4th, Senator Murphy’s visit was a welcome reminder of our country’s potential to make great change for the betterment of our citizens.  With the Affordable Care Act in place more Americans (including Nutmeggers) will be able to access a fundamental right to health care.

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Mad Hatters HIV Testing Day Event

This past Friday, June 27th multiple nations around the world participated in National HIV Testing Day. It was an opportunity for members of communities to take control of their health and check their status. The Community Health Center & Oasis Wellness Center celebrated this auspicious occasion on Saturday, June 28th at the South Green located in Middletown, CT. The “Mad Hatters Testing Party” looked to honor those who had died from the disease, eliminate the stigma related to HIV/AIDS and also promote access to HIV/AIDS testing through your local community health centers.

On the day of the “Mad Hatters Testing Party” the South Green was broken down into three components. That included an area for HIV and Hepatitis C testing stations, an area for local vendors to sell their product and an area for food trucks to distribute their food. The event began with the Mayor of Middletown Dan Drew, speaking to the community about the importance of early detection and getting tested. Also at the event was State Representative Matt Lesser who agreed to the tested on the day. Following introductions, the event was underway. Throughout there was live entertainment provided by Dan Fisher, singer/songwriter, who also donated over $6,000 of audio equipment from his organization, Sennheiser, for the event specifically. Additionally, Dana Newman and her group “Someone You Can X-ray” performed throughout the day. Some of the local vendors also included 24 Peace, Woodworking, Tarot Card Readings by Wana and Klekolo while the food vendors included Mamoun’s and Toasted.

In all, the event was a huge success! Doug Janssen, Oasis Wellness Center program outreach coordinator and major contributor to the overall event, stated they had tested more people in a single day then they had ever at a Community Health Center or Oasis Wellness Center event. The goal of the event is to not just keep these numbers of people getting tested high on a single day but to promote the activity of Early Detection and getting tested every day. To get more information about the HIV prevention programs we have here at the Community Health Center and at the Oasis Wellness Center, click here.

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Adam Dole, Presidential Innovation Fellow

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Adam Dole, recent Presidential Innovation Fellow at the White House and former entrepreneur-in-residence at the Mayo Clinic. Mr. Dole discusses the fertile intersection between public and private entities generating a robust culture in health care industry innovation

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Dr. Regina Herzlinger, Harvard Business School

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Regina Herzlinger, the Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration Chair at the Harvard Business School. She is considered “the “Godmother of consumer driven health care” and discusses new incentives in the wake of the Affordable Care Act that are increasingly taking the consumer into account, spurring innovation in health industry business models that are poised to better serve consumers while driving down costs. 

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Honoring National HIV Testing Day: News & Events

Friday, June 27th is National HIV testing day. There are many reasons why this day of awareness is important to acknowledge. To honor those who have lost their battle, to eliminate the stigma tied with HIV/AIDS through education and community efforts, to promote health, to support a global campaign. The post below highlights a few efforts through the Community Health Center, Inc. & its Oasis Wellness Center that provides services and social activities for people with HIV or AIDS throughout the state of CT; they include a recent recognition for outstanding outreach and enrollment efforts, an update and summary about the Oasis AIDS Memorial Quilt that’s touring the state and an invitation to the “Mad Hatter’s Testing Party” happening this weekend in Middletown.

The Oasis Wellness Center & Ryan White Programs have an amazing staff who work tirelessly to offer special services that include case management, congregate evening meals, and transportation to medical appointments. Case managers assess client’s needs and link them to primary medical care, behavioral health services, emergency financial assistance, home delivered meals, transportation, and assistance with obtaining housing. Michael Lauro, HIV Prevention Specialist, wrote the update below about CHC’s recognition and also facilitated a majority of the Quilt creation and unveiling. Doug Janssen, Outreach Coordinator for Ryan White Services has had a leading role in planning the amazing testing event you will read about below. All the staff deserves recognition but definitely wanted to give direct credit for this honorary post.

At a recent regional meeting of the HIV Prevention Services Division of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Community Health Center was awarded a Certificate of Commendation for meeting our enrollment goals and out-performing contractors delivering the same HIV prevention interventions at other agencies in a geographic region which covers about a third of Connecticut.

The two behavioral interventions are called HIV Prevention Counseling and Comprehensive Risk Counseling & Services.  Each of them targets people at high risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV, providing either single session or multi-session counseling to reduce risk and help individuals make healthier lifestyle choices.  They are part of the range of HIV services offered at the Oasis Wellness Center.  In one of the meeting’s “best practices” sessions, CHC was also asked to present, highlighting how CHC innovatively integrated these two programs.

The Oasis AIDS Memorial Quilt has now arrived at Community Health Center’s New London s primary care site, the final stop before it is officially shipped sometimenext month to the National Names Project headquarters in Atlanta, home to some 5,000 other similarpanels from across the country.  CHC’s own memorial panel honors 30 former Oasis clients, friends, and family members of CHC who battled HIV/AIDS.

First unveiled at a moving ceremony last December on World AIDS Day in our Community Room in Middletown, the panel measures 12-by-12 feet and took some 11 months to assemble.It was hand sewn in part by a sewing circle of women living with HIV as part of their own wellness program and helped along by other sewing volunteers, embroiderers, local businesses, and others who just wanted to help.

The panel has toured CHC sites that could accommodate its large size, making stops in Middletown, Bristol, Waterbury, Meriden and New Britain. We wanted our Oasis Quilt to tour as many sites as possible so CHC employees and clients could experience the emotions it evokes,” said Kasey Harding-Wheeler, Director of Integrative Care for Special Populations. “It was the realization of a goal that for some staff members and friends it has taken a lifetime to fulfill– to honor the lives of people with HIV/AIDS whom we have been touched by and to create a permanent memorial that will serve as a reminder of those we have lost for generations to come. Some of the people on the quilt we only know from stories we have been told, some we have spent considerable time with, and still others we have been with in their last moments on earth but all of them are now linked together by their common connection to Community Health Center/Oasis and our wish for their name to be an on-going reminder of the value of human life.”

You’re Invited to the Mad Hatter Testing Party!

An amazing event is happening this Saturday in Middletown. The “Mad Hatter’s Testing Party” is a family Friendly, festival of art, music & community that has a cool Alice in Wonderland theme which is also recognizing National HIV testing day. Live music, local vendors, food trucks, free HIV testing services, activities and a fun community atmosphere! Spread the word and see you there.

When: Saturday, June 28th from 12pm-4pm.

Where: Union Park (South Green) 14 Old Church Street, Middletown, CT




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