Goodness, Oh My!  Self-Care While Working with Trauma

In the wake of recent human atrocities, I find myself engaging in a practice that I used to implement routinely when I first began treating trauma victims.  I would look around and ask myself – Where is the goodness?  It doesn’t take long to notice, the goodness is all around you.

The goodness is in the sweet scent of spring when you open your door in the morning.  It is in the smile that greets you when walk through the door.  The goodness is in the small boy who gives his ice cream cone to his little sister when she drops hers on the floor.  It is in the neighbor who cooks a meal for a woman recently widowed, the anonymous cupcake left on your desk by a concerned colleague, and the vision of a traumatized child you treated years ago standing before you surrounded by a loving wife and happy, thriving children of his own.

I recently enjoyed a lunch with community leader Cynthia Clegg, and during our discussion of human trafficking she inquired as to how I cope with working with a traumatized population.  I told her about the Goodness.  When you work with a population that has been profoundly affected by trauma, noticing and attending to the goodness is essential for self-care.   It is easy to get lost in the work that we do, and to focus only on that which is the opposite of the goodness.  The ‘badness’ is prominent – it is on our radios, our televisions, spam and social media.  It is easy to find.  However, if we are devoted to recognizing the goodness, it is just as easily accessible to us.

As we teach others to practice Linehan’s mindfulness, it behooves us to practice it ourselves.  Being mindful of the goodness is a skill we must cultivate, as essential to our continuing education as the seminars we attend on evidence-based practice.  So as you walk through your days of treating those who lives have been touched by trauma, take note of the goodness that surrounds you, and share it with those who need it most.  It won’t be long before you find it and say to yourself – Goodness, Oh My!!

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New Kid on the Block

I am wearing new shoes today. I am wearing new shoes for my new role as Director of Domestic Violence, Research and Education at Community Health Center Inc.’s New Horizons.  I am the New Kid on the Block among devoted and talented Executive Directors of domestic violence agencies across the state, all supported by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

As a mother and psychologist, I have a ton of experience under my belt.  I can pack a lunch while bandaging a booboo, and I can diagnose and treat a wide range of psychological disorders.  I have a Masters degree in Forensic Psychology, a PhD in Clinical Psychology and dozens of Mother’s Day cards saved in my china cabinet.  For the day that lies ahead of me I have my laptop, my purse, my lunch bag, and of course, my breastpump.  However, as my new shoes walked me into the shelter on my first day back from maternity leave, I realize that nothing has prepared me for what lies ahead.  There are women and children in shelter who need a Director to protect, advocate for, and provide for them.

I have an amazing staff that needs me to lead, teach, support and guide them through the extremely challenging, and rewarding work that they do on a daily basis.  I realize that as any new kid on the block, I must make myself vulnerable, stretch out my hand, and introduce myself to the neighborhood of domestic violence experts across the state.  So to you my esteemed colleagues and fellow Executive Directors, I say, hello and thank you for having me.  I am thrilled to be here!

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Dr. Emmanuel d’Harcourt, Senior Health Director, International Rescue Committee

Emmanuel_100X117This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Emmanuel d’Harcourt, Senior Health Director at the International Rescue Committee, an international aid organization dedicated to mitigating the plight of the world’s 60 million refugees. Dr. d’Harcourt discusses the challenges of coordinating care among the world’s NGOs and the World Health Organization and the need to build a more integrated aid infrastructure.

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How to Manage Diabetes during Ramadan

A few years ago CHC published a blog discussing Ramadan and the precautions diabetic patients may need to take to manage their health while fasting. Given that Ramadan occurs during the summer solstice this year, meaning the time between sunrise and sunset is significantly longer, we have updated the previous blog to reflect the potential challenges patients may face. CHC dietitian Marissa Garcia, MS, RD, CD-N has prepared a number of suggestions for diabetic patients to follow during Ramadan.

Fasting from dawn to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan is an important spiritual practice for many Muslim adults. Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar which means that the duration of fasting varies according to the time of year in which Ramadan falls. For the year 2016, Ramadan falls during the month of June and Muslims on the East coast of the United States will be fasting for over 17 hours a day. Although exemptions exist for people with medical conditions, such as diabetes, many adults follow this fast without seeking medical advice.

Change in lifestyle and eating patterns during Ramadan puts patients with diabetes at an increased risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) during the day and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) at night. Your healthcare provider may change the dosing, type, or timing of medication in order to minimize these risks.

There is a misconception held by some Muslim communities that checking your blood sugar breaks the Ramadan fast. Checking your blood sugar is an essential component of diabetes care, especially when used to identify low blood sugar. A fast will have to end if your blood glucose level falls too low (<70 mg/dL) or becomes too high (>300 mg/dL). Symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) include trembling, sweating, chills, altered mental status, and headache whereas symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) include extreme thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and nausea/vomiting.

The fasting and feasting nature of Ramadan can encourage the consumption of large, carbohydrate-rich meals and sugary treats that can have a negative impact on blood sugar levels. In order to decrease risks of hyper- and hypoglycemia, strive to eat a good balance of complex carbohydrates (whole grain products and foods high in dietary fiber), protein, and fats at the Iftar and Suhoor meals. Aim to consume smaller portions of carbohydrate-rich foods and sugary treats in order to minimize the risk of hyperglycemia after the large meal. It is important that you consume an adequate amount of calories from each of the main food groups in order to prevent hypoglycemia during the fasting period. Adequate hydration, particularly in warmer months, is also essential. Drink plenty of water and non-sweetened beverages during permissible hours.

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Lynn Quincy, Director of Health Care Value Hub, Consumers Union

Lynn_Quincy_100X117This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Lynn Quincy, Director of the Health Care Value Hub at Consumers Union, which seeks to assist consumers in obtaining the best information on drug and health care pricing, consumer-friendly insurance plans and health outcomes data. Ms. Quincy discusses the benefits of increased coverage for millions of Americans under the ACA, as well as the need for a national effort to contain health care costs, and curb the alarming trend of medical errors causing harm.

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Classic Roasted Salsa


  1. 2 large tomato’s
  2. 1 medium white onion, halved
  3. 3 jalapenos
  4. 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  5. 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
  6. Coarse salt and ground pepper
  7. 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro



  1. Heat broiler, with rack in top position. Place tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, and garlic in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Broil until vegetables are blistered and slightly softened, rotating sheet and flipping vegetables frequently, 6 to 8 minutes (garlic may need to be removed earlier, if it is browning too quickly).
  3. Discard garlic skins. In a food processor, pulse garlic and vegetables until coarsely pureed. Add lime juice, season with salt and pepper, and pulse to combine.
  4. Transfer salsa to a bowl and stir in cilantro. Refrigerate up to 3 days, freeze up to 3 months.

This recipe can be found at 

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Harpreet Sood, Sr. Fellow to CEO of NHS England

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr.Harpreet Sood, Sr. Fellow to the CEO of the National Health Service of England. Dr. Sood addresses the strengths of the health systems of both the UK and the US, and discusses innovations in care delivery and public health initiatives that are poised to transform the quality of care in both countries.

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When I met Muhammad Ali

I was traveling down south visiting Health Centers and landed in the Memphis Airport and was walking between arrivals and departures when I saw a man with a gaggle of young children beside him. Walking by I glanced and by the time I got another ten paces I stopped and pivoted back to confirm my amazement. There in the middle of the Memphis airport was Muhammad Ali signing autographs for a group of young children. I looked around and saw no cameras or entourage just the Champ alone. I flashed back to listening to the radio as a thirteen year old on February 25, 1964 and the woops I shouted when Sonny Liston didn’t come out for the seventh round and Ali became reigning heavyweight champion at 22. With admiration I remember Howard Cosell as one of a few reporters who called him by his proper name. His calling and religious belief led him to refuse the draft in the prime of his career, he showed the world the courage of his convictions. His stance on the war, race and injustice moved people around the globe.

I joined that group of kids and waited patiently and thanked the Champ for all he did to help us grow up in this country and took that precious handwritten signature and placed it in my heart with all the other memories he engendered within us.

In case you never listened to his rendition of “Stand by Me” . I won’t be afraid – just as long as you stand by me.  He was never afraid as we all stood by him.

Peace and Health,

Mark Masselli

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Prescription for Outdoor Activity; a Day with Dr. Robert Zarr

This past Friday, May 27th, Dr. Robert Zarr, MD, MPH, FAAP, a board-certified pediatrician at Unity Health in Washington, DC visited CHC to conduct grand rounds for our providers. While he was here, he also led a Community Forum in which he discussed his renowned Park RX program.

When I met Dr. Zarr, it was evident that he was excited to be here in Connecticut, discussing his work.  Before grand rounds, Dr. Zarr took the time to talk to each person in the room. His passion for this program and its impact on the lives of his patients was clear from the moment he started speaking. I think it is safe to say everyone felt the same way.


Park RX is a global movement that advises people to spend time in nature. Dr. Zarr started the program because he felt most of his patients issues could benefit from outdoor activity. Simply going outside and walking around helps with depression, anxiety, diabetes, weight loss and more. No crazy diets or medicine just a small life change of spending more time in nature.

Dr. Zarr shared a number of interesting facts. My two personal favorites were: if you can’t get outside you can look at a photo of nature because studies show it will help lower blood pressure and stress. The second: walking in parks improved focus in children with attention deficits.

During the Community Forum, Dr. Zarr shared he and his team for DC Park RX have taken the time to map and rate 350 parks in the District. They also developed a one page description of each park. If a physician, patient, or community member in DC visited they could select a location, park information, amenities and more to find the perfect park. As he spoke, the forum participants were extremely engaged and the conversation flowed naturally and smoothly. It was refreshing to see so many people interested and engaged.

After grand rounds and the community forum, Dr. Zarr visited two parks here in Connecticut. He was so excited and couldn’t wait to see what they had to offer. One park he visited was Meriden Green, which is still under construction and set to open this summer. The joy on Dr. Zarr’s face walking through the park was contagious.


Dr. Zarr envisions his program expanding to communities across the country. He has had multiple meetings and hosted a number of different events teaching people about the program and all it has to offer. It is a great idea! Who wouldn’t want to know what parks were around them with a description of everything they have to offer? I hope Dr. Zarr and his Park RX Program achieve as much success as possible. It is a great program that I would love to see implemented across New England.

To learn more visit:

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5 Tips for How to Cook Grilled Vegetables Perfectly

  1. Oil Them Up!

Vegetables dry out when they hit the heat without a little oil. Before they hit the grill, toss them with a light coating of oil. Don’t use too much—it not only adds unnecessary calories, but dripping oil causes flare-ups and off flavors.

  1. Know Your Veggies and Prevent Burning

Some vegetables take a minute or two to cook and others take longer. Denser vegetables like potatoes will take the longest to cook. Keeping them over too high a heat for too long will char them on the outside while keeping them raw on the inside. To prevent burning, sear vegetables over high heat, then move them to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Or precook them and just give them a few minutes on the grill to get some color on the outside.

Grilled vegetables on cutting board on dark wooden background

  1. Use a Skewer or a Grill Basket

To keep smaller vegetables like cherry tomatoes from rolling around and falling though the grate, put them on a skewer or use a grill basket. If you don’t have a grill basket, fold a 24-inch-long piece of heavy-duty foil in half and crimp up the edges to create a lip; this “basket” will prevent the food from falling through.

  1. Size Matters

How you prep your vegetables dictates how they will cook. Cut them into smaller pieces if you want your vegetables to cook more quickly (and use a skewer to keep the on the grill). Cut round vegetables like onions or eggplant into thin “rounds”—you’ll get more surface area, which allows for a crispier outside, and because they’re thin, they’ll cook quickly.

  1. Try Cooking in Packets

Don’t feel like babysitting your vegetables on the grill? Try cooking them in packets instead. This method works great for dense vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes or other roots. Simply place a 24-inch-long piece of foil on the counter and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange thinly sliced vegetables a single layer, slightly overlapping, on the foil. Leave a 2-inch border on all sides. Fold foil over and pinch the edges together, making a packet. Place the packet on the grill. Cover the grill and cook until the vegetables are tender (about 12 to 15 minutes, for potatoes). When you open a packet to check doneness, be careful of steam.

These tips are from

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