The first site of the Community Health Center opened on May 1, 1972, offering free dental care in a converted 2nd-floor walk-up apartment in downtown Middletown, CT. Started by a group of community activists and Wesleyan University students to address the lack of services for people in need, the new center was dedicated to the ideal that “Health Care is a Right, Not a Privilege.”
The young health center grew from the experience that CHC’s founder Mark Masselli had in working with a 24-hour crisis center called Touch. “We had started our own hotline service, and we found that whatever problems brought people to the crisis center, the lack of access to good, affordable health care was at the top of the list. So we decided to do something about it.”
In addition to Masselli, dedicated community people joined the cause, such as Reba Moses, the daughter of a sharecropper, who brought long experience in fighting for social justice. The owner of a Main Street pharmacy, Jerry Weitzman, was the first person in the business community to lend a hand to the fledgling non-profit organization. They each became founding board members. A core of Wesleyan students were instrumental in the health center’s early survival, including Marci Rein, Gerry Tracy, Matthias Vinikas, and John Hickenlooper.
The health center soon grew from that small apartment to a historic 3-story building on Middletown’s Main Street, expanding its services to include medical and behavioral health care as well as dental, and then gradually expanding to meet the need in other Connecticut communities.
Today, CHC operates in 13 primary care hub/cities and 201 service locations across the state of Connecticut, delivering care to more than 130,000 patients. Now in our fourth decade, we are dedicated to building a world class primary health care system, caring for special populations and focused on improving health outcomes for our patients as well as building healthy communities. That is how we see the fulfillment of the promise that “Health Care is a Right, Not a Privilege.”