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Top News Stories

Community Health Center raising minimum wage to $18 per hour

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Middletown-based Community Health Center Inc. is raising its minimum wage for employees to $18 per hour on Jan. 1, CHC announced today.

CHC's current minimum wage is $17.50, according to Leslie Gianelli, a CHC spokeswoman. CHC plans to increase the minimum wage to $18.50 in 2018 and has a long-term goal of raising the minimum wage to $19.50, she said.

Connecticut, meanwhile, will increase the state's minimum wage from the current $9.60 per hour to $10.10 per hour on Jan. 1.

CHC began increasing its minimum wage four years ago and each year has added to that minimum amount prudently, CHC said in a news release.

The increases began after CHC, one of the nation's largest community health centers, began evaluating its entry-level pay about five years ago. The evaluation showed Connecticut is an expensive place to live and the entry wage needed to reflect that, CHC said.

"As part of our mission, CHC strives to be a voice and vehicle for social change, and we believe paying a living wage helps us achieve that purpose," Mark Masselli, president and CEO of CHC, said in the release.

The state's minimum wage increase comes after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a law in 2014 that scheduled increases for workers in three stages. The coming change is the final step in a series of three scheduled increases under the law that first increased the minimum wage from $8.70 to $9.15 on Jan. 1, 2015; from $9.15 to $9.60 on Jan. 1, 2016; and finally to $10.10 effective Jan. 1, 2017. Connecticut was the first state in the country to adopt legislation establishing a $10.10 minimum wage, according to a news release Tuesday from the governor's office.

Hundreds gather in Middletown to honor memory of city’s homeless who died in 2016

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By Jeff Mill, The Middletown Press

 

Hundreds of people gathered this week to celebrate success in the effort to end homelessness and to honor the memory of 15 members of the homeless community who died in 2016.

The homeless and their advocates, the formerly homeless, police officers and Mayor Dan Drew joined together Thursday to mark National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day in a late-afternoon service in the Church of the Holy Trinity on Main Street.

The annual service, which has been held locally for more than a dozen years, is part of a nationwide observance of the effort to combat homelessness.

The event is held either on or as close as possible to the Winter Solstice, the day with the shortest amount of sunlight. Doing so “symbolizes what a long night it is if you are homeless,” said Lydia Brewster, assistant director of community services for St. Vincent dePaul Middletown.

The number of those who had to spend a cold, dark night huddled in a doorway or on an unforgiving street was substantially reduced in 2016, Brewster added. Sixty-six homeless people in and around Middletown were connected with home providers during the year, said Kasey Harding, the director of the Center for Key Populations at the Community Health Center.

Much of that success is due to a change in addressing the problem, by focusing on specific groups — veterans, for instance — within the larger homeless community, explained Cindy Dubuque of the Partnership for Strong Communities.

Beyond that, success has been achieved by a renewed commitment from the Malloy administration and from the state through the efforts of the departments of Housing and Mental Health and Addiction Services, Dubuque said.

Locally, the effort has gained from the support of the city and from “the United Way and countless other organizations working with — and on behalf of — the homeless,” Dubuque said.

And while that is welcome news, “There is still work to do,” she added.

As she began the service, Holy Trinity’s pastor, the Rev. Dana Campbell, called attention to the 15 men and women from the homeless community who died during the year. More than just their lives, their unique stories were lost as well when those 15 people died, Campbell said.

Campbell said she had searched for a meaningful way to commemorate those lives. She thought first of flowers. But, “flowers wither,” Campbell said.

And so Campbell took a page from Judaism.

As each person who attended the service entered the church, they were asked to take a stone from a large flat flower basket.

“Within the Jewish faith, it is customary to leave a small stone on the grave,” according to the website shiva.com. “Placing a stone on the grave serves as a sign to others that someone has visited the grave. It also enables visitors to partake in the mitzvah tradition of commemorating the burial and the deceased. Stones are fitting symbols of the lasting presence of the deceased’s life and memory.”

“(Placing a stone) symbolizes that our memories of that person never go away,” Campbell said. &ldq

A Homegrown Connecticut Primary Care Model Gains National Attention

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Story by Michael Lee-Murphy from Connecticut Magazine. 

Just a few years ago, Jose Torres was in rough shape. He weighed about 460 pounds, with elevated blood sugar levels. “My life was just going down,” Torres says. Torres fits the profile of someone who might be forgotten by the standard systems of health care. He has chronic health problems stemming from diabetes, and is insured under HUSKY Health, Connecticut’s Medicaid program. These days, Torres receives a battery of health care services that would be the envy of anyone, at any level of the American health care hierarchy.

In recent years, he says he has dropped 53 pounds and his blood sugar levels are stable and under control. He sees a nutritionist once a month, a nurse every three or four weeks, a podiatrist once or twice a year, and a chiropractor when he needs it — he has a lot of pain in the levator scapulae muscle in his neck. (“I even know what [the muscle] is, because I talked about what was bothering me,” he says.) All of these services are covered under Torres’ Medicaid insurance.

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Jose Torres

Photo by Michael Lee-Murphy
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News Releases

Community Health Center’s Dr. Veena Recommends Simple Steps to Avoid Flu

Meaghan Lyver 0 455

 

MIDDLETOWN, Conn., February 8, 2017: Connecticut is one of the states hit hard by the flu this year, with hundreds suffering from the virus; but it’s not too late to avoid becoming a statistic.

“Get a flu shot. It’s your best protection against the flu, which is expected to peak in March,” says Veena Channamsetty, MD, chief medical officer of Community Health Center, Inc.

Other simple steps to avoid getting the flu:

•             Wash your hands often

•             Avoid close contact with people who are sick

•             If you have flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches), limit contact with others

•             Disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched by multiple people

•             Boost your immune system by eating healthy foods and drinking fluids

“The flu spreads easily this time of year, especially in schools and office buildings,” says Dr. Veena. “Taking a few precautionary steps to avoid contracting the virus can make a huge difference.”

 

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About Community Health Center, Inc.
Since 1972, Community Health Center, Inc. has been one of the leading healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut, building a world-class primary healthcare system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. CHC is focused on improving health outcomes for its more than 145,000 patients as well as building healthy communities. Recognized as both a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission, CHC delivers service in more than 200 locations statewide, offering primary care in medical, dental and behavioral health services. For more information, visit www.chc1.com.


Free Dental Care Provided though CHC Mission of Mercy

Meaghan Lyver 0 554

MIDDLETOWN, Conn., January 23: Dental care providers from Community Health Center, Inc. provided free dental care to people in need and without insurance at its Middletown site Saturday as part of the Mission of Mercy program.

“We provided 37 patients with an array of services from exams, X-rays and cleanings to fillings, dentures and extractions,” said Sheela Tummala, chief dental officer for CHC, who participated in and organized the event. “With the support and service of our volunteers, we were able to help many of the patients in need within our community.”

CHC provides dental care to its patients regardless of their ability to pay, using a sliding fee scale for those without Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.  It periodically holds Mission of Mercy dental clinics to provide services to those who are not patients.

“The nurses and doctors are good; and because sometimes I have a job and sometimes I don’t, it can be difficult for me and my family to pay for my teeth. This helps,” said Noemi Campos, who received dental treatment at the event. 

Thirteen staff members, including dental providers, dental assistants, hygienists, and patient service associates volunteered their time and services for the event while staff from CHC’s Healthcare for the Homeless helped schedule appointments and provide transportation.

Tummala said CHC will hold five more Missions of Mercy at different sites around Connecticut this year.

 

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About Community Health Center, Inc.
Since 1972, Community Health Center, Inc. has been one of the leading healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut, building a world-class primary healthcare system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. CHC is focused on improving health outcomes for its more than 145,000 patients as well as building healthy communities. Recognized as both a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission, CHC delivers service in more than 200 locations statewide, offering primary care in medical, dental and behavioral health 

CHC and CeCN Expand Electronic Consultations to California’s El Dorado Community Health Center

Meaghan Lyver 0 414

MIDDLETOWN, Conn., January 17, 2017: The Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) and Community eConsult Network (CeCN) extended rapid specialty consultation service to El Dorado Community Health Center, a primary care organization serving 9,000 patients in California’s El Dorado County. 

The service gives primary care providers at the health center access to prompt electronic consultations for their patients in six specialties: cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, and rheumatology. In most cases, the consultations are completed within two business days.

“CeCN gives primary care providers the ability to communicate promptly back and forth with specialists,” says Daren Anderson, MD, a member of the CeCN Board of Directors. “Our research has shown that specialty consultations can be safely and efficiently managed through secure electronic messaging, with improved convenience for patients and without compromising the quality of care,” he adds.

CeCN, a wholly owned subsidiary of CHC, was incorporated in 2015 to improve access to specialty care, especially in areas where it is limited, such as rural and underserved communities. Restricted access to specialty consultations contributes to healthcare disparities, higher rates of disability, and complications in chronic diseases, according to Anderson.

El Dorado Community Health Center is the third healthcare organization in California to join CeCN. Ampla Health and Chapa-De Indian Health joined last year.

CeCN provides specialty consultation to primary care providers in healthcare organizations in seven states.

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About Community Health Center, Inc.
Since 1972, Community Health Center, Inc. has been one of the leading healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut, building a world-class primary healthcare system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. CHC is focused on improving health outcomes for its more than 145,000 patients as well as building healthy communities. Recognized as both a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission, CHC delivers service in more than 200 locations statewide, offering primary care in medical, dental and behavioral health services. For more information, visit www.chc1.com.

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