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CHC’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

For over a year and a half the pandemic has drastically impacted the lives of billions of people around the world. The COVID-19 virus has been at the epicenter of the news media, our dinner table conversations and at the forefront of numerous healthcare initiatives. In this pandemic timeline, Community Health Center, Inc. reflects on how far we have all come, battling economic crisis, climate disasters, social unrest and the COVID-19 virus while still finding the silver linings during these trying times.

Jan. 21, 2020: The first case of COVID-19 is reported in the United States. Read the story.

Feb. 20, 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci appears on Conversations on Health Care, a radio show produced by CHC. Fifteen cases of COVID-19 are reported in the United States. Listen to the episode.

Dr. Fauci appears on Conversations On Health Care via Zoom interview.

Mar. 15, 2020: CHC offices close due to COVID-19 concerns leading to a drastic 1,000 visit decrease over a three day period.

Mar. 19, 2020: Governor Ned Lamont issues Executive Order 7G to expand access to telehealth services to Connecticut residents amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

A patient meets their medical provider using telehealth services.

March 21, 2020: Governor Ned Lamont signs an executive order, asking all non-essential residents to “stay safe, stay home,” as part of the civil preparedness and public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

March 26, 2020: CHC Pediatrician Dr. Duyet Tran goes live on Facebook to answer general Coronavirus questions and questions related to COVID-19 infection in children. Questions were submitted through CHC’s call center and Facebook page. Watch the video.

April 5, 2020: With offices closed, CHC begins first-ever 7-day operation schedule, opening on Sundays to accommodate an increased need for telehealth visits.  

April 15, 2020: Nationally, community health centers report capacities at 47%. Community Health Center, Inc. operates at 95% capacity.

April 23, 2020: CHC’s Chief Behavioral Health Officer Tim Kearney sits down with Erika Arias on Fox61 to address the mental health implications of the pandemic and to educate viewers on managing stress, anxiety, trauma and dealing with the “new normal”. Watch the interview.

May 1, 2020: CHC celebrates its 48th birthday. Founder, President and CEO Mark Masselli addresses staff via email to recognize the organization’s rebound in patient visits since the pandemic shutdown.

In the midst of a Pandemic, when our nation stopped, you kick-started our new delivery system.  In the first week of March we were seeing 3000 people in person everyday – by mid-March we had lost over 70% of our patient visits to the Pandemic shutdown.  But you knew the needs of our patients, and by the last day of March, you stood up an entire tele-health service and virtual organization that saw by tele-health over 3000 people on that day!

Mark Masselli

May 24, 2020: The State of Connecticut asks CHC to begin conducting COVID-19 testing. CHC begins to offer free testing to people of all ages.

A CHC provider assists a patient at the drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic in Middletown, CT.

May 25, 2020: George Floyd is killed in an encounter with Minneapolis police when Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck until he stopped breathing, became unresponsive and died. People across the U.S. began to protest for social justice and against police brutality. Read the story.

June 1, 2020: CHC and its Weitzman Institute launch The Path Forward webinar series. The series discusses the role of community health centers in addressing the social determinants of health and explores the benefits and challenges of AI and the digitalization of healthcare.

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The Path Forward graphic

June 4, 2020: Mark Masselli testifies at the first meeting of the Legislative Telehealth Committee.

CHC’s affiliate programs, ConferMED, the National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement and the National Nurse Practitioner Residency & Fellowship Training Consortium continue virtually, uninterrupted.

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ConferMED, NIMAA, and NNPRFTC logos.

The United States experiences the hottest summer on record. Communities across the country are confronted with rising COVID-19 infection and death rates, economic crisis, racial inequality, social injustice and climbing temperatures. Read the story.

July 10, 2020: CHC partners with the Stamford NAACP and the United House of Prayer to provide free COVID-19 tests, no appointment necessary. Our community partners continue to be a vital component in the success of CHC’s testing clinics across the state.

Aug. 1, 2020: Between May 1st and August 1st, CHC provides nearly 22,000 COVID-19 tests.

Aug. 14, 2020: In celebration of National Health Center Week, CHC leadership share a special message to show their appreciation for staff and their heroic efforts over the last several months. The staff at CHC continue to go above and beyond, pivoting quickly as the needs of our patients change in the midst of the pandemic. Watch the video.

Aug. 31, 2020: CHC encourages Connecticut residents to visit a fixed or mobile clinic to receive a free flu vaccination early in an effort to protect vulnerable populations and relieve the health care system as it fights the coronavirus.

A child receives the flu vaccine at a CHC flu vaccine clinic.

Sept. 4, 2020: CHC partners with University of Connecticut Head Football Coach Randy Edsall to create television advertisements to promote COVID-19 testing. Watch the story. 

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Coach Edsall poses in front of the Rentschler Field scoreboard which reads “Take One for the Team! Keep Connecticut Safe!”

Sept. 22, 2020: CHC and its Child Guidance Center host a free webinar for parents of elementary, middle school and school students to discuss parenting during the pandemic.

Oct. 14, 2020: Dr. Fauci returns to Conversations on Health Care to address the pandemic and the concerning rise in daily infection rates in the U.S., vaccine development, monoclonal antibodies, and what people need to do to stop the spread of the disease as the U.S. death toll rises to 220,000. Listen to the episode.

Mark Masselli, Margaret Flinter and Dr. Fauci appear on Conversations on Health Care via Zoom.

Oct. 23, 2020: CHC gains momentum in COVID-19 testing and continues to provide free testing to walk-up and drive-up patients. Demand increases as we approach the holiday season.

Oct. 27, 2020: CHC is asked by the Governor’s Office and Department of Education to participate in a pilot program to conduct COVID-19 testing in Middletown schools for teachers and students. Watch the story.

Oct. 31, 2020: CHC continues to meet the demand for COVID-19 testing through community pop-up events like the Halloween testing event at Norwalk Community College.

Nov. 4, 2020: Joseph R. Biden is elected as the 46th President of the United State of America.

Nov. 5, 2020: CHC partners with University of Connecticut Head Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma to create television advertisements to promote COVID-19 testing. Watch the ad.

Nov. 6, 2020: Due to increased demand for COVID-19 testing, CHC expands its operating hours at all 18 testing site locations to offer free testing 7 days a week. Watch the story.

Nov. 22, 2020: CHC begins to prepare for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by ordering deep freezers and leading daily planning meetings.

Dec. 23, 2020: The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrives at CHC. 

Dec. 25, 2020: After severe storms and a power failure at our vaccine storage facility, vaccines were in danger of thawing and CHC worked quickly to coordinate and administer 300+ COVID-19 vaccines to staff able to come in on Christmas Day.

Dec. 31, 2020: Between October 1st and December 31st, CHC provides over 260,000 COVID-19 tests, a dramatic increase in testing numbers from summer.

Jan. 6, 2021: Mark Masselli and Wesleyan University President Michael Roth develop plans for a vaccination clinic on the University’s campus.

Jan. 7- Jan. 11, 2021: The State of Connecticut asks CHC to draft a proposal for a mass vaccination site at the Pratt & Whitney runway. On January 11th, the state gives the green light for CHC to begin working with Pratt & Whitney to develop the mass vaccination site.

Jan. 11, 2021: CHC switches to self-swabbing COVID-19 testing to streamline the testing process.

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Self swab testing procedure graphic

Jan. 17, 2021: CHC opens the state’s first and largest mass vaccination site at the 10-lane Pratt & Whitney Runway in East Hartford. The site is nicknamed “Vaccine Village” and featured in a front-page Hearst media story by Dan Haar. Read the story and check out our drone footage of the site.

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Pratt & Whitney mass vaccination site in East Hartford.

Jan. 19, 2021: Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair for the incoming Biden Administration, brings her mother to CHC’s Middletown location for her first dose of the COVID19 vaccine.

CHC vaccinators brave the winter weather to get vaccines into the arms of residents across Connecticut.

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A CHC vaccinator assists a patient at a
drive-thru mass vaccination site.

Jan. 25, 2021: Governor Ned Lamont, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Public Health Deidre Gifford, East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc and Pratt & Whitney President Christopher Calio join Mark Masselli for a press conference at Pratt & Whitney Runway to discuss the history-making public/private partnership to get the mass vaccination site up and running and improve availability of the vaccine. Watch the story.

The Army National Guard is deployed and arrives at CHC locations around the state to assist with operations and patient care.

Feb. 2, 2021: CHC continues to encourage Connecticut residents to get the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine at any of the fixed site or pop-up vaccine clinics across the state, at no cost to them.

Feb. 3, 2021: CHC opens its second mass vaccination site at Lord & Taylor in Stamford.

Feb. 4, 2021: CHC opens its third mass vaccination site at Wesleyan University in Middletown making it easier for eligible workers and individuals 75 and older to get vaccinated.

Feb. 8, 2021: CHC Nurse Tara Fagan is selected as a “Healthcare Hero” by Governor Lamont and gifted an all-inclusive trip to Super Bowl LV by the New England Patriots. Tara is flown to Tampa Bay, Florida, on the Patriots jet along with 75 other New England healthcare workers to enjoy the big game, luxury accommodations, concerts and more.

Feb. 17, 2021: President Biden’s Federally Qualified Health Center Vaccine Program gives CHC direct access to vaccine allocation.

Feb. 28, 2021: CHC’s Pratt & Whitney mass vaccination site is highlighted in a Sunday New York Times front page story, In Quest for Herd Immunity, Giant Vaccination Sites Proliferate. Read the story.

March 5, 2021: CHC opens its fourth mass vaccination site at the Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury.

An aerial view of CHC’s Danbury Fair Mall mass vaccination site.

March 10, 2021: CHC administers its 100,000th dose of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine on the one year anniversary of Governor Ned Lamont’s declaration of a public health emergency for COVID-19.

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A vaccinator administers CHC’s 100,000th dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to a patient.

March 11, 2021: CHC Senior Vice President and Clinical Director Margaret Flinter administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz at the Pratt & Whitney mass vaccination clinic.

March 14, 2021: Government officials join members of leadership at Building One Community in Stamford where CHC is holding a vaccination clinic for immigrant and undocumented residents. Read the story.

March 18, 2021: Mark Masselli addresses the pattern of hate-motivated violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in a message shared to social media.

The recent attacks against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in Georgia, New York, San Francisco, and across the country are part of a disturbing trend of hatred that must be addressed. We are appalled by this violence, and our prayers are with all those affected.

As we seek to stand as allies with the Asian American community, we are reminded of the importance of acting locally. All of us need to do more than just vocalizing our support. We need to develop closer relationships with those around us who are being oppressed.

CHC remains committed to health care as a right for all people. That includes the right to be free from hate-motivated violence.

Mark Masselli

March 24, 2021: CHC continues to educate the public with facts about the COVID-19 vaccine. CHC’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Veena Channamsetty addresses vaccine hesitancy through an informational video. Watch the video.

March 31, 2021: President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden selected CHC as one of a few health care organizations across the country to receive White House Easter Eggs. CHC distributed the eggs to patients and staff at vaccine events across the state.

April 1, 2021: Vaccine eligibility opens to everyone 16 and older. CHC begins working with schools across the state to vaccinate students.

Connecticut residents and local community organizations show their appreciation for CHC COVID-19 vaccine teams with food donations and gifts.

April 6, 2021: A special ceremony to honor the lives lost to COVID-19 is held during an episode of the Middletown Forum.

April 13, 2021: CHC administers its 250,000th dose of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine to Bristol NAACP President Eric Clemons at CHC of New Britain.

A vaccinator administers CHC’s 250,000th dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to Eric Clemons.

April 16, 2021: CHC partners with United Way of Connecticut and Uber Health to support Connecticut residents with transportation to vaccine appointments.

April 26, 2021: CHC administers the COVID-19 vaccine to approximately 1,000 East Hartford High School and CREC students at a “Student Skip Day” event at the Pratt & Whitney mass vaccination clinic. Mark Masselli announces that vaccines are available without an appointment, 7 days a week at CHC locations. Watch the story.

April 29, 2021: CHC is presented Inspirica’s Community Partnership Award for its continued dedication to providing health care to the homeless and its COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts.

April 30, 2021: CHC launches the ABC (Amusement Park, Beaches and Camps) Vaccine Initiative to bring vaccines to people where they work and play in Connecticut.

A CHC vaccinator administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at Lake Compounce.

May 1, 2021: CHC celebrates its 49th birthday. A message from Mark Masselli reads in part:

We are very proud of our work – but we have a saying: ‘we didn’t get here on our own and we can’t move forward alone.’ This lifesaving work is about so many others who made us shine – the National Guard – we salute these great heroes, the State of Connecticut, local Health Departments, community non-profits, Chambers of Commerce, places of worship, police and fire departments – and those of you who simply gave us a shout out. That’s the success we are most proud of – in a year shaped by tragedy and the unknown it came down to everyone working together.

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49th Anniversary Advertisement

May 1, 2021: CHC partners with 8 local health departments to provide in-home vaccinations and community-based vaccine events with the support of Vaccine Equity Partnership Funding (VEPF) from the state. The VEPF funds supported the formation of partnerships between local health departments, community-based organizations, and vaccine providers to promote and increase vaccine equity.

May 5, 2021: CHC’s Regional Vice President Amy Taylor, Chief of Psychiatry Dr. Tichianaa Armah, and Director of Clinical and Community Partnerships at the Child Guidance Center Georgette Harrison joined Connecticut Representative Jim Himes and other local non-profit leaders to discuss mental health during the pandemic.

May 11, 2021: CHC and its ABC Vaccine Program are featured in a front page story in the New York Times, To Vaccinate Teens, States and Cities Look to Schools, Camps, Even Beaches. Read the story.

May 15, 2021: Regional Vice President Yvette Highsmith-Francis appears on CNN’s New Day to discuss CHC’s efforts to get children 12 and up vaccinated. Watch the interview.

May 19, 2021: CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky sits down with Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter on Conversations on Health Care to discuss the science behind lifting mask restrictions for vaccinated Americans, ongoing research on vaccine efficacy against emerging COVID variants and possible booster shots. Listen to the episode.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky appears on Conversations On Health Care via Zoom interview.

May 25, 2021: Mark Masselli addresses CHC staff on the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. The statement reads:

Greetings CHC family,

The murder of George Floyd one year ago today exposed the deep divisions and structural racism infecting our country. The COVID-19 pandemic will end, but the pandemic of racism tragically persists. Hate crimes targeting Black, Hispanic, and Asian people are happening with increasing regularity. As we at CHC know, racism is a public health crisis. There is no vaccine to protect our society from this evil. I urge you to engage in finding solutions and maintain an open dialogue about racial equity with your families, friends and colleagues. Look for opportunities to advocate, and to be kind to your fellow man. It may seem overwhelming, but do not become complacent. Another life lost to the scourge of racism is one too many.

Peace and Health

Mark Masselli

May 26, 2021: CHC is honored with four Telly Awards for its vaccine hesitancy advertisement featuring Dr. Tichianaa Armah, CHC’s Chief Psychiatry Officer, telling her personal story about searching for answers about the COVID-19 vaccine. Watch the ad.

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Telly Award announcements

May 31, 2021: CHC thanks the National Guard for their extraordinary service to CT residents during the pandemic thus far with a full page advertisement in local news publications.

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“Thank You National Guard” Ad

June 2, 2021: CHC administers its 500,000th dose of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine at CHC’s CT Pediatrics location in Hartford. To celebrate the milestone, CHC awards CREC student Michael V. a $1000 scholarship to be placed in a Connecticut Higher Education Trust account established for Michael by State Treasurer Shawn Wooden.

June 4, 2021: CHC celebrates Pride Month with Pride Day at the Wesleyan University mass vaccination site where free COVID-19 vaccines and HIV tests are made available.

June 10, 2021: CHC, the Weitzman Institute and the School-Based Health Alliance debut the Teens & Vaccines podcast in which teens from across the country discuss the highs and lows of their pandemic experience. Listen to the podcast.

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Teens & Vaccines podcast cover art

June 15, 2021: Dr. Anthony Fauci returns to Conversations On Health Care to discuss the decades of science behind the ‘remarkable’ COVID-19 vaccines, the decision to scale up global vaccine donations, and COVID-19 variants. Listen to the episode.

June 30, 2021: A chapter ends as CHC’s mass vaccination sites close and vaccination efforts are directed to in-clinic locations and pop-ups organized across the state.

Aug. 18, 2021: CHC hosts a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Waterbury Youth Services’ Annual Back-to-School Rally at Fulton Park. The clinic is one of hundreds of CHC pop-ups around the state made possible by Vaccine Equity Partnership Funding (VEPF) grants. CHC continues to focus on increasing awareness about vaccine safety, providing education to community members on the importance of being vaccinated, and administering the vaccine to eligible CT residents.

COVID vaccines are available. No appointment needed! Click for more information.