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Top News Stories

CHC-backed program graduates first medical-assistants class

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The first class of medical assistants trained specifically to work as key members of primary care teams graduated last week from the National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement (NIMAA), a new national training program developed by Community Health Center Inc. of Middletown and Salud Family Health Centers of Colorado.

The seven-month classroom, online and clinical training program trains students to be medical assistants (MAs) who help with primary care office tasks such as taking weight and blood pressure, using electronic records and choreographing patient visits with physicians. They are not nurses, but the position provides entry-level exposure to the medical profession and is a growing area in health care, said Leslie Gianelli, CHC spokeswoman.

CHC graduated four students last week and Salud six and the two plan to expand their NIMAA program to 10 or 12 more clinics across the U.S. who subscribe to their training model and curriculum, Gianelli said. Classes would begin in September and cost $6,000. NIMAA also plans a shorter, less expensive program to upgrade skills of existing medical assistants, starting in early 2018.

CHC and Salud started the program after finding new MAs often weren't fully prepared for team-based primary care and required additional training, so it began the higher-level NIMAA program allowing graduates to be ready to work on their first day, Gianelli said. CHC may hire some of the graduates, pending passing a required exam, but graduates are free to take their skills anywhere.

The Department of Labor anticipates more than 20 percent growth in the need for MAs over the next decade, said David Aylward, project lead for NIMAA.

Telemedicine with a twist at Weitzman Institute/Community Health Center in Meriden

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MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Doctors from across the country are benefiting from innovative patient-centered care approach at Community Health Center.

Doctors in 25 states tuning into Project Echo. They’re on a myriad of devices from laptops to smart phones.

Primary care physicians are connecting with specialty doctors through a sophisticated video conferencing system.

“We describe it as making geography irrelevant. You can put people together and connect them and it doesn’t matter where they are,” said Dr. Daren Anderson, Director of the Weitzman Institute at Community Health Center, transforming healthcare delivery.


Say ahhh

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Area families take advantage of free dental check-ups for their children through the Give Kids A Smile program at the Community Health Center in New London, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. Give Kids A Smile Day was launched nationally in 2003 by the American Dental Association and annually helps to bring dental care to children in need. (Tim Cook/The Day)

News Releases

CHC Nurse Practitioner Residency Program Receives Full Accreditation

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CHC Nurse Practitioner Residency Program Receives Full Accreditation


MIDDLETOWN, Conn., January 16, 2017: The postgraduate family nurse practitioner residency program at Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) has received its initial three-year accreditation from the National Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship Training Program Consortium (NNPRFTC), an indication of the highest levels of programmatic rigor and best practices.

 “This is an important milestone,” says Margaret Flinter, APRN, PhD., senior vice president and clinical director for CHC. “Full accreditation means that our postgraduate residency training program has been carefully reviewed by peers and leaders in the field and meets objective and rigorous standards. Our program is particularly focused on new nurse practitioners who are committed to practice careers as primary care providers and seek an additional year of training specific to that challenging role.”

“CHC has been a leader in providing excellent education and training for healthcare professionals, and we are delighted the quality of our nurse practitioner residency program is recognized by experts in the field,” says Mark Masselli, president and CEO of CHC.

The NNPRFTC was established as a non-profit organization in 2015 to develop an accreditation service for postgraduate training programs. CHC’s postgraduate nurse practitioner residency program is the second program in the country to be accredited by the NNPRFTC. The International Community Health Services nurse practitioner residency program in Seattle, Wash., was awarded full accreditation by the NNPRFTC earlier the same day.

“Our goal is to ensure that postgraduate training programs for nurse practitioners have the rigor and quality to support new nurse practitioners and those transitioning between specialties and provide the depth, breadth, and intensity of training they seek in preparing for new roles,” says Candice Rettie, PhD., executive director of NNPRFTC. “We are delighted to give our seal of approval to the CHC program.”

The accreditation process, which is voluntary, involves extensive analysis and documentation of the residency program’s operations. It also involves an on-site visit for verification and inspection of the program and its facilities by professionals with nationally recognized expertise in postgraduate training for nurse practitioners.

CHC established the nation’s first postgraduate nurse practitioner residency program in 2007. 


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 Qua

New Program Helping Providers Treat Opioid-Addicted Patients Now Available to California Health Centers

Weitzman Institute Launches California Project ECHO Addiction Treatment Program

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MIDDLETOWN, Conn., November 28, 2016: With deadly overdoses occurring across California, the California Health Care Foundation and the Center for Care Innovations have partnered with the Weitzman Institute to develop a Project ECHO Buprenorphine program specifically for California primary care organizations. Already more than a dozen health centers statewide have joined to improve and expand their ability to treat patients suffering from opioid addiction.

Weitzman’s ECHO Buprenorphine is the only such program designed and developed by primary care providers for primary care providers. Healthcare providers throughout California will benefit from real-time case discussions with primary care practitioners actively treating substance abuse and addiction and from their firm understanding of the realities and challenges faced by front-line providers.

“Weitzman ECHO is the only ECHO program developed by primary care providers for primary care staff, and, for this reason, it is uniquely and ideally suited to address the needs of front-line primary care staff,” said Daren Anderson, MD, director of the Weitzman Institute and CHC’s vice president and chief quality officer. “Weitzman ECHO lectures and discussions are led by active, practicing providers who speak from experience and fully understand the challenges faced by front-line providers. This fact has led Weitzman ECHO to grow into one of the largest ECHO providers in the country, delivering sessions to more than 880 providers and care team members in 24 states nationwide,” said Anderson.

Buprenorphine is one of the most effective, evidence-based interventions for treating opioid abuse and reducing overdose, but few primary care providers have experience with the therapy or understand how to incorporate it into their practice. The Weitzman ECHO creates virtual classrooms for primary care providers and members of their practice teams to improve their skills and gain confidence in treating patients’ substance use disorders. Providers who have participated in Weitzman ECHO clinics routinely report high satisfaction and greater confidence in their ability to treat patients.

The Weitzman ECHO is made available to California health centers by the California Health Care Foundation and the Center for Care Innovations. “Project ECHO is a great tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” said Kelly Pfeifer, MD, a director at the California Health Care Foundation.  “Only one in 10 Californians has access to addiction treatment, and the need is urgent. We are proud to partner with the Weitzman Institute to allow more people to find treatment that works, with the primary care provider they trust.”

In 2016, the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) granted Substance Abuse Service Expansion Awards to 36 California health centers to provide medication assisted treatment for patients suffering opioid use disorders.  However, most California awardees reported little or no experience providing addiction treatment and said they needed technical assistance. In response to the request for support, the California Health Care Foundation and the Centers for Care Innovations established the Treating Addiction in the Primary Care Safety Net program, which offered Weitzman ECHO Buprenorphine, along with other technical assistance programs. To date, 14 health centers have agreed to participate in ECHO Buprenorphine. Additional health centers throughout California are expected

Tools and Strategies for Treating Chronic Pain, Reducing Opioid Use Now Available Free to Health Care Providers

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Contact: Leslie Gianelli

[email protected]

(860)-347-6971 x3080


Tools and Strategies for Treating Chronic Pain, Reducing Opioid Use Now Available Free to Health Care Providers


MIDDLETOWN, Conn., October 26, 2016: For primary care providers, who care for about half of all the patients with chronic pain, the growing awareness of the questionable long-term treatment value of opioids with their likelihood of diversion, overdose and addiction has left them struggling for solutions.

To provide guidance, clinical providers and care team members everywhere have free access to PainNET, an online learning community developed by Community Health Center, Inc. and the Weitzman Institute. The website, www.painnet.net, which became public October 26, contains essential tools and resources to help providers tackle issues of pain and prescription opioid management.

“The tools and resources provided in PainNET come directly from pain experts with extensive experience working with patients,” said Daren Anderson, MD, vice president and chief quality officer at CHC, a primary care organization with more than 145,000 patients, and director of the Weitzman Institute. “We know most primary care providers received little training in the management of complex pain or cases where pain, addiction and mental health issues co-exist. We believe PainNET helps fill that knowledge gap.”

PainNET was developed in 2015 as a content library of video recordings, resources and blog posts for providers participating in Project ECHO Pain, the recurring videoconferences that allow primary care medical and behavioral health clinicians to present challenging cases to a multidisciplinary team from the Integrative Pain Center of Arizona and receive real-time advice on pain care. Currently, PainNET is being used by more than 229 providers from over 80 practices.

“We learned that participants in Project ECHO Pain needed flexible access to pain care content in order to recall presented information and share it with other providers at their practice sites,” said Anderson.  After making PainNET available to ECHO Pain participants and staff members at participating practice sites, CHC surveyed initial users and learned that most expressed high satisfaction with PainNET and its use in their practices and that most providers experienced statistically significant improvement in their knowledge about caring for patients with complex chronic pain.  One primary care provider in Colorado said, “PainNET is a way to discuss difficult situations with other doc