Introducing Nichole, a Nurse Practitioner Resident!

This week we are introducing a Nurse Practitioner Resident, Nichole Mitchell. She had many adventures before pursuing a career in quality primary care as an APRN and choosing CHC’s residency program. Read her bio below to learn more:   

As a teenager I went on two formative medical trips to Haiti and the Dominican Republic that kick started my path to becoming a medical provider.  I graduated from University of Notre Dame in ’06 where I did a joint thesis (with my now husband) in Panama on the social, economic and environmental impact of ecotourism. Despite being a full time ski bum in Jackson, WY after college, I managed to work as the director of nursing at a women’s health clinic for several years.  I recently graduated from the Yale School of Nursing with my Family Nurse Practitioner degree, during which I worked at HAVEN Free Clinic, in a pediatric clinic in rural Guatemala and in a make-shift clinic in sugar cane fields outside of Leon, Nicaragua.

I am really excited to be a part of CHC because I am surrounded by like minded individuals – people who really care about bringing high quality, evidenced base care to complex and disenfranchised populations. My favorite part of primary care is that every day is different. I love learning from my patients and every new patient is a window to a different human’s experience with life and health.

If I wasn’t a medical provider I would probably be surfing in Nicaragua, skiing in the French Alps, mountain biking in Utah, rock climbing in Yangshuo, China – or at home with my dog and husband watching re-runs of Parks and Recreation.

Mitchell, Nichole

Posted in Employees, General, Nursing, Residency Programs, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, Milken School of Public Health at George Washington University

There’s been much talk of a looming shortage of physicians in the coming decades. A recent IOM report shed some light on what might be done to shift the medical training landscape to ameliorate that dilemma.  This week hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, Pediatrician and Murdock Head Professor of Medicine and Health Policy at the Milken School of Public Health at George Washington School of Medicine. Dr. Mullan discusses the  report which suggests rethinking 21st century graduate medical education to better reflect the shifting health care landscape.

Posted in CHC Radio | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing an Eighth AmeriCorps Member!

This week we are pleased to introduce another AmeriCorps member, one who is a regular contributor to the blog and social media sites. Chelsea Pepe, she is serving with CHC’s communications team. Besides contributing to media, she also works on a variety of community outreach efforts and events including Help Portrait. Learn more about her from her bio below:

Hi CHC! My name is Chelsea Pepe and I am serving in the Communications Department in Middletown for this upcoming year. I am from Southington, CT and I graduated from Central Connecticut State University, receiving my B.A in English and minor in Creative Writing. While, at Central, I had an internship with the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT where I helped coordinate the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival. I researched, collected data, marketed, and promoted the Sunken Garden Festival. I also helped develop the first Sunken Garden 20th Anniversary Anthology. I am hoping to continue in the Communications field, and receive a Masters in possibly Communications Healthcare.

In my free time, I love going to the gym, walking my dogs, baking, writing, looking at any form of art whether it’s a musical to a painting, and I’m obsessed with the television show Pretty Little Liars!

I am thrilled to be a new member of the CHC community, looking forward to being on new projects, and getting to know many of you over throughout my service.


Posted in AmeriCorps, Employees, General, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr. Tejal Gandhi, CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Tejal Gandhi, President and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation and the Lucian Leape Institute at NPSF. They are dedicated to eliminating medical mistakes and patient harm in the health care system, as well as creating a safe environment for health care workers.

Posted in CHC Radio | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Your Portrait Taken this Holiday Season at the Community Health Center in Middletown and New Britain

“A picture can tell a thousand words, but a few words can change its story.” – Sebastyne Young

Jeremy Cowart a world renowned artist who uses paint, graphic design, and a camera lens to capture the beauty in people and art across the world. Not only is he an artist, but a huge humanitarian. He’s always trying to think of how he can help impact communities, and give them voices.

One of his latest contributions is being the co-founder with his friend Kyle Chowning of a worldwide movement called, Help Portrait. Cowart, knowing the impact a single photograph can give someone is an empowering expression of self to a person in need. It gives us a simple message that every human in the world has their own unique story to tell, and that they matter. This movement has sparked sixty-seven countries since 2008 to host in various communities across the world on the first Saturday of December. Help Portrait is about bringing professional photographers, hair, and makeup artists the chance to give back to their communities in a special way during the holiday season to families in need.

Here at the Community Health Center in Middletown and New Britain AmeriCorps will be sponsoring Help Portrait for its third year. This Saturday on December 10th from 10 am – 2 pm we will have professional photographers, hair, and makeup artists. Anyone from the community is welcome to get their portrait taken for free, and there will be scheduled days to pick up their photographs. Local businesses in Middletown and New Britain are also donating food. The Community Health Center AmeriCorps have worked with various local vendors for this Saturday. We’d like to give special thanks in advance to everyone who plans to make this day very special not only for the participants getting their photos taken, but all the volunteers.

You can also watch Help Portrait in action from Jeremy Cowart and Kyle Chowning.

Thank you to our donors! Stop & Shop, Nardelli’s, Dunkin Donuts, Mondo, Fusion Bakery, Illiano’s, Subway, Roly Poly Bakery, Café Beauregard, Big Cheese Pizza, People’s Choice Pizza, Copy Cats, Minute Man, Sebastian Photography, Stephanie Kaplan, Kyle Turner, John Kane, Marinello School of Beauty, Mira Helder, Michael Fiedler, Fred Bonilla, and Valerie Gengras.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Introducing a Seventh AmeriCorps Member!

This week we are pleased to introduce a Seventh AmeriCorps member, Julia Sisson! She is spending her year of service based with CHC’s ‘Wherever You Are’ program. Read on to learn more: 

Hi there! My name is Julia Sisson and I am in the outreach and SOAR case management position with Wherever You Are in Middlesex County. I’m originally from Tolland, Connecticut, but I’ve been away for the past four years studying Psychology and Studio Art at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. While at Smith, I worked in labs focusing on perfectionism and its effect on the development of psychopathology, and painted abstractions of food scraps through independent studio projects. I also watched way too much Mad Men than any person should ever consider in one sitting.

So far, my experience at the CHC has been overwhelmingly positive. I am immersed in my work with patients, and honestly believe I’ve found my calling in case management. I’m very excited to be broadening my experience with other Corps members while we educate and engage with the community. I’m also glad to be working one-on-one with clients; I think I’m getting the real-life skills to apply to my academic foundation.

I hope to apply the skills I’ve learned in school and at the CHC to a master’s program in social work. Once there, I’ll learn what I need to in order to work with patients in a clinical setting, and perhaps continue to teach the importance of social justice to clients and practitioners alike. I may also return to the community health care setting – the place where I first discovered my love of social work.


Julia is pictured center left with her selfie game on point. 

Posted in AmeriCorps, Employees, HIV/AIDS, Uncategorized, Wellness, WYA | Leave a comment

Dr. Eric Viire, Medical Director, XPrize Competition

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Eric Viire, Medical and Technical Director of the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE Competition and the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE which seeks to put the future of health care in the palm of your hands. Dr. Viire discusses the competition finalists utilizing technological advances that are making it possible to develop hand held diagnostic sensors capable of identifying numerous conditions in one device.

Posted in CHC Radio | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Successfully Helping Patients Manage their Diabetes and Take Ownership of their Health!

The Danbury Community Health Center has implemented a new way to assist patients with managing their chronic disease and improve their overall health- Shared Medical Visits. The goal of these shared medical visits is to improve patient outcomes by empowering them to take ownership of their health.

Currently, the shared medical visits occur quarterly and focus on diabetes management. They provide diabetic patients the opportunity to engage with other diabetic patients, medical providers, behavioral health clinicians, dietitians, nurses, and guest experts in a group setting to learn ways to better manage their diabetes.

physical fitnesss smv

These shared medical visits include open discussions, opportunities to learn about diabetes, goal setting for better health, nutritional education, and fitness tips. During the visits, medical staff provides tools for patients to better understand factors and their consequential impact on diabetes such as their A1C, body mass index (BMI), and HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. The group also works to with patients to help improve these factors, this year the shared medical visits have included visits to the local Danbury Farmer’s Market to educate patients of fresh foods available in season and their preparation.

Many patients had never been to the market before and were unaware of the doubled SNAP benefits available at there, which makes shopping more economical and healthy. To further encourage cost-effective, healthy eating, shared medical visits also include cooking demonstrations and ways to use coupons at local grocery stores. Alongside eating habits weight also often affects diabetes so shared medical visits promote fitness through exercise demonstrations and routines that are easy to do. Finally, to provide additional support, behavioral health clinicians facilitate discussions for patients to set goals and practice healthy coping mechanisms to improve patients’ overall health. The success of our shared medical visits comes from the combination of a committed team and patients who are willing to express their concerns and discuss progress and struggles in a safe and supported environment.

smv eating healthy

Shared medical visits’ holistic approach to manage diabetes has encouraged patients to take steps towards better health as evident by patients’ weight loss, lower A1C and BMI. Furthermore, the patients feel supported and more confident to proactively improve their health.

Thanks to the Danbury Microsystems team for this post



Posted in Diabetes, Fitness, Living with Chronic Illness, Model of Care, Nutrition, PCMH, Uncategorized, Wellness | Leave a comment

Weitzman Weekly

Weitzman Weekly

Spotlight: Rewards to Quit (R2Q) w/ Carlee Clarino


Carlee Clarino assisting patients with Rewards to Quit via telephone call.

Despite the grave health risks that come with smoking cigarettes, some smokers cannot seem to quit. In an attempt to help people quit, staff members in the various Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) sites have been, and continue to, enrolling patients into a study called Rewards to Quit. The study, often referred to as R2Q, provides eligible participants with access to services (such as group therapy, Quit Hotline, nicotine replacement therapy, etc.) to help them quit smoking. For half of the participants, they are given an extra incentive to quit smoking by earning money for every service that they attend or participate in. This program has been widely spread among the patient population at CHC under the leadership of Carlee Clarino. Carlee started as an AmeriCorps member before joining the Weitzman Institute (WI) as a research assistant. This week, I talked to Carlee to learn more about her role and her vision for the R2Q at CHC.  

My Phuong Tong: How did Rewards to Quit start at CHC?

Carlee Clarino: Enrollment into R2Q actually started shortly after I finished my AmeriCorps year in 2013. We started enrolling patients into the study in October 2013 but my role in the program started early August of that year with all the preparatory work that would ensure the program’s sustainability at CHC.

MP.T: Can you tell me more about the prep work that you had to do?

C.C: Essentially, before CHC implemented R2Q, there was little federal aid for smokers who were interested in programs or medications that would help them quit smoking. A large part of my job early on involved implementing smoking counseling at the health center- in groups and individually. I organized trainings for all clinical staff so they could better prescribe meds, recommend nicotine replacement, offer motivational techniques to help patients quit, and run effective smoking groups.

In addition, before the program was implemented state-wide, the meds and nicotine replacement were not covered. I am proud to say that through R2Q, we are now able to provide eligible patients with smoking cessation counseling and medications, free of charge. By removing this monetary obstacle to smoking cessation, I think we have really given smokers who want to quit a much better chance at success.

MP.T: That’s great! Please expand on the monetary burden. How much do these services normally cost?

C.C: To give you an idea, the medication that we provide patients cost from $200-300 for a pack of 56 and nicotine replacement therapy – aka nicotine patches – can cost from $20-40 for a pack of only 14 patches. In addition, the behavioral therapy service provided to patients for free under R2Q can cost up to $335. These things add up and when your annual income is a little over $11,000 a year (poverty level) then it becomes a huge burden. That is why it is so beneficial for patients to enroll in this study even if they don’t get the extra monetary incentive.

MP.T: To date, how successful has CHC been at actually getting patients to enroll in the study and participate in the program?

C.C: We actually have done quite well in terms of enrolling patients. My most recent data shows that CHC has enrolled 830 patients of the 2,052 total patients enrolled in Connecticut. That is a respectable 40% of total patients enrolled in this study! I would attribute our success to the fact that staff members, other than medical care providers, are enrolling the patients. This allows patients to sign up for the program without having time taken out of their medical visit. I think this is a huge part of what makes the program successful here because WI staff and AmeriCorps run the research/program management side and clinical staff can focus on providing care!

A lot of patients were enrolled earlier on in study but recently, this year’s AmeriCorps members have started blitz weeks that have really helped increase the numbers of patients learning about and enrolling in the study.

MP.T: What are these blitz weeks that you mention?

C.C: Essentially, the AmeriCorps members have been encouraging clinical staff to refer patients who smoke to the AmeriCorps-run table that is stationed in the waiting room. At the table, patients learn more about the smoking cessation services and incentives. The referrals have worked wonderfully because they come from people whom patients trust and respect. For that reason, the AmeriCorps members have been able to enroll a large number of patients in the course of a week. The idea was created by some very engaged staff member in Fairfield County but the process is completely AmeriCorps driven and has given R2Q the rejuvenation that it needs.

MP.T: It seems like you have accomplished a lot through this program. How do you feel about the program today?

C.C: I am really proud to be part of this great project. It has been a rewarding experience for me getting to  work on research that can affect policy for our prominent Medicaid smokers, to help smokers quit smoking and to see people’s lives being improved as a result. I cannot tell you how many times I have been thanked by people for providing this service and helping them quit. I think it is easy to forget that smoking is an addiction that warrants medical assistance and attention. My involvement in R2Q has opened my eyes to the way that our healthcare system can help patients stop smoking and empower them to stay smoke-free.

MP.T: What would you say is the most memorable experience you’ve had while doing R2Q?

C.C: I remember one time when I was enrolling a mother into the study who was a heavy and chronic smoker. I asked her how many cigarettes she smoked a day and was shocked when she said three packs! For those who don’t know, that is 60 cigarettes a day. I couldn’t help but ask her why she chose today to try and quit smoking again. She smiled as her eyes started tearing up and she told me she wanted to see her children grow up and be there for them. In that moment, I was reminded of the fact that we are all involved in this program because the cost of smoking was not only affecting the patient’s wallet and health, but also the lives of their loved ones. It reaffirmed my early beliefs regarding the importance of having a program like R2Q at CHC.

In this interview, Carlee was able to give us a brief explanation of the Rewards to Quit program at CHC. This program is continuing to grow at CHC and there have been a few changes to the nature of the study. If you would like more information about the program, please contact Carlee (

Cheers and enjoy this comic :)

R2Q comic

… Rewards to Quit is probably a more effective (and nicer) way of helping people quit smoking.

Posted in AmeriCorps, Employees, General, Model of Care, Weitzman, Wellness | Tagged | Leave a comment

Dr. Benjamin Sommers, Harvard School of Public Health

This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Benjamin Sommers, Professor of Health Policy and Economics at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Sommers is an expert on the impact of universal health coverage and Medicaid expansion as well as their influence on improved outcomes, reduced mortality rates and improved public health.

Posted in CHC Radio | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment