Nightingale Award Recognition

By: Mary Blankson, Chief Nursing Officer

Every year during National Nurses’ Week we have the opportunity to nominate nurses for the state Nightingale Awards. This year, I have the great honor of sharing that 2 of our nurses are being recognized tonight at the Hartford Nightingale Award Recognition night.

This recognition night was started approximately 17 years ago to celebrate outstanding nurses and elevate the nursing profession. It is a night where the breadth of nursing roles are recognized: specialty, acute, homecare and of course the role that we are so dedicated to, the role of the primary care nurse.

Our First Recipient comes out of our newest site, Hartford. For over 20 years, Carolyn Reading has devoted her career to caring for the children of Hartford (one of the poorest cities in the country for children). Carolyn is well-known not only for her superb nursing skills – attention to detail, knowledge of protocols and procedures, respect and caring for the patient and family – but also for her boundless energy, efficiency, pro-active approach and willingness to go above-and-beyond. Carolyn served for many years as “Resource Nurse” for Hartford’s busy urban clinic – leading the team by example, solving problems, and staying late to be sure the job was done right. Carolyn is especially valued by her team members for her nursing expertise in working with adolescents. Over two decades ago, Carolyn saw the need to expand her skills and improve the services delivered in Hartford to teens, to better address problems such as teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse and depression in our urban, low income, heavily disadvantaged teen population. Carolyn’s non-judgmental approach and ability to connect with adolescents helps teens understand that she can be trusted with their concerns and relied upon to help find solutions. Her skill and sensitivity is especially apparent when caring for Hartford’s many teens who have complex medical and psychosocial problems.

Needless to say, she has been and continues to be a huge asset to the team in Hartford—and to the larger CHC team of nurses—I am so excited to have her as a part of the CHC family and to celebrate her across the agency!  Carolyn, thank you for all you do for our kids and for your team! I am hopeful that you will share your expertise as we look to incorporate more pediatric training for all of our nurses to better prepare them for caring for our children with complex needs across the agency!

Our second recipient of the night is none other than Sarahi Almonte, our new Nurse Manager for our Middletown site. Sarahi came to Community Health Center, Inc. in 2014 having spent time in a variety of non-nursing settings, including politics and community organizing. So, as a second career nurse, she brings a diverse skill set to our complex primary care environment here at CHC.  Sarahi worked first in our Meriden office as a staff nurse, and then after displaying talents in leadership, she quickly moved into a Nurse Supervisor position in our Bristol office. Most recently she has transitioned into a Nurse Manager role at our flagship site, supporting a diverse group of medical assistants and nurses who provide primary care services, including pediatrics, adult and prenatal care, along with complex care management. She is the “go-to” person for quality improvement activities, including her tireless efforts to focus on improving the overall cultural competency of our staff, along with enhancing teamwork and exploring initiatives to improve nursing retention. She has fully embraced our Complex Care Management program, and is dedicated to supporting other nurses who are developing their skill in this area, even leading a didactic for the nursing staff this coming fall. She has a way of making patients want to take better care of themselves and we have seen a number of uncontrolled hypertensive and diabetic patients committing to taking their medications and making lifestyle changes.  Patients who suffer from anxiety have engaged with behavioral health thanks to Sarahi’s engagement and support.  She is a born leader and an amazing team player. Whenever she sees staff that are struggling she reaches out and will do whatever she can to help.  Sarahi, I look forward to continuing to work with you and supporting the hopes and dreams you have for our staff—everything from enhancing how we interact with patients in Complex Care Management, to starting a nurse residency here at CHCI—let’s continue to dream big dreams for our nurses here at CHCI!


Congratulations to you both—I am so proud!

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National Nurses Week

Mary Blankson, Chief Nursing Officer

May 6th marked the beginning of a week-long celebration of nursing.  Every year I get the great privilege of kicking off the week with a resounding thank you to all the nurses for all they do every single day! I know that all of us here at CHC have experienced the care, expertise, and compassion of a nurse either at work here at CHC, in our personal life, or the lives of one of our loved ones.

In reflecting back on my almost 3 years as chief nursing officer, I am reminded of the ways CHC has grown and changed to better serve our complex and ever growing population of patients. We have nurses everywhere at the health center, including our staff nurses, staff LPNs, Nurse Managers and Supervisors, APRN residents, Family, Adult, Pediatric, Psychiatric and School-based health center APRNs, Nurse Researchers, Nurse Leaders, a Nurse Midwife, quality improvement nurses and so many more! We are in every part of the state—from Hartford and Enfield, all the way down to Fairfield County and New London County. We should all be celebrating the impact of nurses on the care that we deliver every day —as our nurses work hard to ensure better, more robust care for our patients.  They have an increased awareness and interest in training the next generation of care team members in high quality primary care, and they contribute to the development of innovative practices and interventions that set a national standard for what we know should be the model of care everywhere!

We continue to be proud of our innovations including: The celebration of the 10th year of our APRN residency program (the first in the nation), the continued implementation of the nation’s first dedicated education unit for baccalaureate nursing students focused on primary care, the completion of the first two years of curriculum for our Complex Care Management Project ECHO Program, our LPNs continuing to expand their practice, including delivering medical services to patients here to see their behavioral health and dental providers, the continued expansion of our SBHCs and even the continued work we have done through our National Cooperative Agreement to support other health centers around the country to implement team-based care or  their very own residency program.

I am sure there are so many more innovations!

The nursing role here at CHC will continue to evolve and expand as we continue our firm dedication to setting a national standard, sharing that standard—and creating partnerships with like-minded folks all across the nation!

It is truly a great honor to recognize every CHC nurse this week—and I hope you will all join me in thanking a nurse near you for their dedication and commitment to all we do!

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Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, Author of “An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back”

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Dr. George Thibault, President of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation on the Future of Health Professional Education

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Long Time Health Analyst Susan Dentzer Discusses Shifts in Health Policy That May Impact Innovation

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Leading GOP Health Policy Strategist, Lanhee Chen, Analyzes Way Forward For Health Reform

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Dr. Joshua Seidman, Former Director of Meaningful Use at ONC, Analyzes Healthcare Landscape Under GOP

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Joshua Seidman, PhD, Senior VP for the Center for Payment and Delivery Innovation at Avalere Health, and former Director of Meaningful Use at the Office of National Coordinator for Health IT at the Department of Health and Human Services. He discusses the challenges that lie ahead for continued growth of meaningful use of electronic health records in the health care industry under proposed rollbacks under GOP health reform measures.

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Telemedicine Champion Dr. Peter Yellowlees Discusses Impact of Telehealth on Access to Care

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Federation of American Hospitals CEO Chip Kahn Speculates On Health Industry Changes Under GOP Health Reform

Chip KahnThis week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Chip Kahn, CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals which represents over a thousand of the nation’s owner-operated hospitals. The long time health industry strategist speculates on changes to health coverage for millions of Americans under the GOP health reform bill, and what it might mean for the hospital industry and health care in this country.

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Paul Gionfriddo, CEO of Mental Health America

Paul GionfriddoThis week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Paul Gionfriddo, CEO of Mental Health America, the nation’s oldest organization dedicated to advancing access to mental services for all Americans. He discusses the need to change the nation’s response to mental illness from a public safety to a public health approach.

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