Community Health Center, Inc. Celebrates 52 Years Where Health Care is a Right and Not a Privilege

May 1, 2024

You might think celebrating your 52nd birthday would be uneventful.

Maybe, but as we celebrate the 52nd anniversary of the founding of Community Health Center, Inc., we are also celebrating the 100th birthday of one of our founding Board members, Lillian “Reba” Moses, daughter of a South Carolina sharecropper. During the Great Migration, Reba found her way to Middletown, Connecticut where she helped a young community organizer with the proposition that we could change the face of health care.

Reba was there on May 1, 1972 when a group of Wesleyan University students and Middletown community activists raised the banner that “Health Care is a Right and Not a Privilege.” That’s about all we had back then to start the “Free Clinic,” although somehow we managed to wrangle a dental chair and a local volunteer dentist, and off we went.

Well, hold your horses! After about six months, the state inspectors came through wanting to know “what the heck” we were doing without their permission. Yes, it is true our hallways were one inch too narrow, and we were shut down.

Boy, if that does not get your juices boiling I don’t know what will.

But we picked ourselves up, and from that seed of an idea in that second floor cold water flat, caring for just a handful of patients, we grew to a statewide health center with about 200 locations. We have been blessed that hundreds of thousands of patients have crossed through our doors and through some really wide hallways.

Always restless, in 2023 we pivoted and created a parent organization, which we call the Moses/Weitzman Health System.

Why a health system focused on primary health care? Because almost all health systems are hospital-based – and while we need good hospitals, they are sucking the air out of primary care. We harken back to 52 years ago when we first waived that banner. If we do not bring the same energy and spirit today to primary care, it will be lost. We need to stand up for primary care and reinvigorate it.

There is not one answer to what a primary care health system should look like. But here are the key components that now make up the Moses/Weitzman Health System. We created the Weitzman Institute because we needed to research what works in primary care, and share what works to educate other primary care teams and organizations. We started America’s first nurse practitioner residency program because we are always looking for providers who are excited by primary care and want to be primary care providers. We are also a credentialing organization for postgraduate nurse practitioner and physician assistant training programs across the country.

In addition, we know there are many burning questions in primary care – including “How do we get our patients to specialists?” The answer was, it is nearly impossible, so we launched the eConsult solution ConferMED, which now serves five million patients at health centers and primary care providers across America. We also recognized that it takes a team to provide comprehensive primary care, and we wanted to make sure those on the first rung of the ladder had someone rooting for their success. Thus, we now train Medical Assistants to the Dr. Tom Bodenheimer model of primary care through our National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement (NIMAA). 

We have lots more to do – but the truth is we cannot do it without your support and ideas.

So 52 years later, we are still passionate about what we can do together. We invite you to join us on this journey to make primary care the health care system that leads the way.  

Peace and Health,

Mark Masselli
Founder, President/CEO
Community Health Center, Inc.