Brittanie Kennedy- Community Health Services and the Expanded Testing Initiative

CHCACT recently sat down with Brittanie Kennedy from Community Health Services in Hartford to discuss the health center’s Expanded Testing Initiative.

A Day of Service for Community HealthCorps


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On January 19th Community Healthcorps members spent the day serving at Martin Luther King Day events around the state. The members were at the University of Bridgeport, the Peabody Museum in New Haven, and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.
I spent my day at the Wadsworth Atheneum. The day’s activities catered to children and their families. There was a common theme of equality, creativity, and realizing your dreams. Corps members helped children and their parents make “dream journals” in an arts and crafts station, we helped set up for (and enjoyed) a gospel choir and poetry reading, and distributed materials for a drawing activity.
The day was a great opportunity to involve ourselves in the Hartford community and take part in the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Not to mention, it was a chance to spend the day in the nation’s oldest continually-operating public art museum in the United States. – Sam Pach Community HealthCorps Member

New Haven

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On Sunday January 19th and Monday January 20th, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., AmeriCorps Community HealthCorps members had the pleasure of sharing our love of healthy eating and making fitness fun with over 200 kids and their families at the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven. We helped each kid create their own set of fitness dice, incorporating their own favorite activities to do at home with their families. We also helped them create their own healthy plate with the best variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins, and worked with them to rethink their drink with a better understanding of the amount of sugar in the drinks they normally drink. The kids were so very creative! They spent the time to understand which foods belong to which food group, and came up with the most creative activities to write on their fitness dice. Some chose to hop on one foot, some chose to sing, dance, do yoga with their parents, or run wind sprints with their friends. Their parents also took a special interest in seeing how much sugar is in each of the possible drink options for their kids. Both the kids and families we served and the Community HealthCorps members alike learned a lot about healthy eating and fitness and we can’t wait for the next chance to teach and learn healthy habits from our communities! – Erin Good Community HealthCorps Member


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Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life achievements of Dr. King as a civil rights leader. On this day, people all over learn about and promote equal rights for all Americans. This year on January 15, AmeriCorps HealthCorps workers from all over CT came to together and volunteered in “Feeding Children Everywhere,” a project held by the University of Bridgeport. Together they made an estimated 40,000 packets of food to be distributed to people in need. The event hosted young people all over CT with different projects to participate in. It was an excellent turnout as many residents of Bridgeport and volunteers across CT participated in such a humbling and fun experience. -Narasha Davis Community HealthCorps Member

CHCACT’s Lori-Anne Russo Reflects on FQHC Progress

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As you may be aware, I will be leaving CHCACT, and my last day will be Friday, February 13th (in the Italian culture number 13 is GOOD luck). As with all transitions, it is bittersweet though I am looking forward to continued professional challenges and growth opportunities.

I’d like to take a moment to thank you for the amazing opportunity to work with you! It has truly been an honor and privilege to work at CHCACT and with the CT FQHCs. I have never been involved with such a tremendous group of caring, committed, and talented individuals. I have learned so much from ALL of you.

Together we have come so far in preparing for the journey ahead toward value-based payments. When I first began at CHCACT, almost 4 years ago, few of us knew much about the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH). Today, we have 11 of the 13 FQHCs (85%) recognized by either NCQA or Joint Commission as a PCMH! Words like empanelment, same day access, team-based care, care coordination, motivational interviewing, and population management were not as fully understood or as commonplace 4-years ago as they are today. So CONGRATULATIONS!!

Now that we have in place an amazing Clinical Quality Committee and a Quality Improvement Strategic Plan, the infrastructure is in place to help guide the journey ahead toward value-based payments. My 2 cents on what should be next on the menu…continue to embed the PCMH principles more deeply into your practices, create an accountable infrastructure for your clinical quality measures, and target measures for quality improvement that align with the Triple Aim. And the necessary inevitability in all of this is to ensure you have access to good, reliable clinical data to help make informed decisions.

It is for certain that the CT FQHCs will continue growing in what they do best…. improving the health of CT residents, especially the underserved populations, and CHCACT will be there to continue to provide quality training and technical assistance to support the CT FQHCs in healthcare transformation.
Best wishes for continued success,

Lori-Anne Russo, M.S.
Director of Quality Improvement

“Your Path to Employment”: SNAP Employment & Training

by Leah Tully, SNAP Outreach Coordinator

Though the unemployment rate in the state of Connecticut has decreased since its peak in 2010, finding a sustainable job continues to be a challenge for many of Connecticut’s unemployed residents.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides roughly 1 out of every 9 Connecticut residents with funds that allow them to purchase healthy, affordable food. While these benefits can certainly help needy families make ends meet each month, it is strongly encouraged that recipients who are capable of doing so, take steps to secure financial independence for the future.
According to a report released by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) in July of 2013, the vast majority of SNAP recipients in the state of Connecticut have one or more working family member in the household, indicating that the financial needs of SNAP recipients won’t be met by providing access to employment alone.
More often than not, employers and recruiters are interested in applicants with specific education, experience or certifications that indicate that the person applying for the job has relevant experience in the position the field that they’re looking to be employed in. Because education and training programs come at a cost that is often too substantial for some low-income families to afford, gaining the qualifications necessary to excel in their field is an uphill battle.

In an effort to ensure that SNAP recipients in the state of Connecticut have access to the resources necessary to qualify for the jobs that are available in CT, the SNAP Division of the Connecticut Department of Social Services has begun expanding their SNAP Employment & Training (SNAP E&T) program.

The purpose of the program is to help SNAP recipients gain the skills they need in order to be self-sufficient and is offered free of charge to eligible adults who are not receiving financial assistance from the Temporary Family Assistance program and meet the prerequisite requirements mandated by the participating partners. The programs are designed to offer flexible, targeted, certificate training in a multitude of different fields that are understood by the Department of Labor to be sought after in increasing demand.

Some of the certifications offered through the SNAP E&T program include, but are not limited to: English as a Second Language, Patient Care Technician, Personal Care Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Culinary Arts & Food Safety, Urban Farming and Landscaping, Electronic Health Records, Human Services, Security Guard, Office Support, Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, Environmental Health, Water Distribution Operations, Water Management, Manufacturing & Logistics, Bookkeeping, Computer Aided Drafting, Customer Service, Desktop Publishing, Digital Printing and Production, Machine Trade Technology, Railroad Engineering, Massage Therapy and more.

The participating community colleges are reimbursed for 50% of the cost of the program and include Capital Community College (Hartford), Gateway Community College (New Haven), Asnuntuck Community College (Enfield) and Goodwin College (East Hartford).

In addition to offering training programs, the SNAP E&T program also offers eligible SNAP recipients structured job search and skill training at Career Resources (Bridgeport), Community Renewal Team (Hartford), The Kennedy Center (Waterbury), Workforce Alliance (New Haven) and Eastern CT Workforce Investment Board (Franklin).

Interested SNAP recipients can find detailed contact information for each of the providers by visiting the SNAP Employment and Training section of the CT DSS website.

National Latino AIDS Awareness Day & CT’s Migrant Farmworkers

JennSucciPicNational Latino AIDS Awareness Day & CT’s Migrant Farmworkers

by Jennifer Succi, Program Coordinator

Autumn marks the transition from summer to winter in New England, and at first sight of changing leaves in bright red, orange, yellow and purple hues, many New Englanders are transported to thoughts of sipping warm apple cider, carving pumpkins and finding their way through corn mazes.

Connecticut is home to over 4,900 farms whose primary agricultural commodities include sweet corn, apples, tobacco, dairy and greenhouse nurseries. While these farms are the hub of many New England fall traditions, they are also the source of livelihood for the estimated 20,183 migrant and seasonal agricultural workers in Connecticut.

It is not a surprise that Migrant and Seasonal farm workers, a largely disenfranchised group within the United States, experience an increased risk for HIV. To paint a picture, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Hispanic/Latino population accounted for 21% of new HIV infections in 2010, and represented almost 30% of new HIV infections within Connecticut.

Several of Connecticut’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) outreach to local farms to connect Migrant and Seasonal farm workers and their families with resources offered through the health centers, such as SNAP benefits screening, and help them to overcome any barriers or underlying fears that might impede their access to health care.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 marked National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, which encouraged community action. The theme, To End AIDS, Commit to Act, implored everyone to make a commitment to know the facts about HIV, get tested for HIV, and get into and stay in medical care if they have HIV.

On Wednesday, CHCACT tagged along with an Outreach Worker from Generations Family Health Center, to three Windham County farms. During these visits, the Generations Outreach Worker provided farm workers with supplies bags (handkerchiefs, sunglasses and sunscreen) and CHCACT program staff distributed English- and Spanish-language safer sex kits during the farm workers’ lunch time.

At each site, services pamphlets and resources were spread across a lunch table for workers to explore as they entered their lunch building.  Many of the farm workers were primarily Spanish speaking, and would ask Generations Outreach Worker questions about the safer sex supplies, which were deferred to CHCACT program staff. Some of the workers requested that Generations Outreach Worker deliver the safer-sex kit to them privately, hesitant of their peers’ judgment.

On Wednesday, CHCACT and Generations Outreach Worker reached almost 50 Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers with supplies and encouraged them to learn their HIV status.

As you carve your pumpkins and prepare your apple pies, remember the Connecticut migrant farmworkers who are helping to bring those products to your home. And see if you can help improve their access to health care.

Check out my photos from the day!IMG_0093IMG_0091IMG_0098