CHCACT Attends Veterans’ Stand Down

By Deb Polun, Director, Government Affairs/Media Relations

StandDownOn Friday, September 18th, several community health centers and the Community Health Center Association of CT (CHCACT) attended the 22nd annual Veterans’ Stand Down event, hosted by the State Department of Veterans’ Affairs, at the Rocky Hill Veterans’ Home & Hospital.

The annual event connects veterans from across Connecticut with services ranging from hair cuts, to legal assistance, to medical screenings and more. Over ninety organizations participated this year on behalf of veterans. For the third year in a row, CHCACT provided information to veterans about the SNAP Program (formerly Food Stamps), including income limits and how to apply.

StandDown2I have attended the event for the past three years and, every year, I am struck by the impact that our participation has. Many veterans do not realize that they may be eligible for SNAP and are grateful to receive information, and to learn that they may get help buying food each month. Participating in this event is a small way to show my gratitude for the veterans’ service.

Thanks to representatives from Community Health Services & First Choice Health Centers for attending as well!

CHCACT Educates About SBIRT & How #ScreeningWorks

By Antonio Diaz-Carrera, CHCACT Behavioral Health Program Manager

SBIRTOn Tuesday, August 24th, Senator Terry Gerratana hosted CHCACT at the Legislative Office Building for a presentation about the Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Program in Connecticut. Launched in 2011, this program is a collaboration between the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, The University of Connecticut Health Center and CHCACT and aims to increase the identification and treatment of adults who are at risk for substance misuse or have a substance use disorder. About twenty people attended the forum and heard behavioral health specialist Ernie Balasco describe the success of the program and proposals for sustaining these services in the future. The forum was broadcast on CT-N and live-tweeted using the hashtag #ScreeningWorks.

Working with 10 FQHCS, the SBIRT program has screened over 40,000 patients in the state, identified those at risk, and provided those patients interventions and connections to treatment when needed. Follow up data shows that patients participating in SBIRT report significant decreases in binge drinking, marijuana use and illegal drug use.

The presentation is available for viewing on CT-N’s website. You can view the SBIRT LOB Presentation slides as well.


Connecticut Celebrates National Health Center Week!

UPDATED WITH NEW PHOTOS! Connecticut celebrated National Health Center Week from August 9th-15th, 2015, with the theme of “Celebrating Our Legacy, Shaping Our Future.”

Throughout the week, health centers celebrated their staff and patients with community events, appreciation lunches and more. Here are some photos from the week!

Governor Malloy Promotes SNAP Use at Farmers’ Markets

8.5.15 farmersmktOn August 5th, 2015, Governor Malloy visited the farmers’ market at the North End Senior Center in Hartford to celebrate National Farmers’ Market Week and to highlight the opportunities to use SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) at farmers’ markets throughout Connecticut. The North End Farmers’ Market is operated by Hartford Food System.

8.5.15 gospel farmersmktAfter a local gospel choir sang, chef & market manager Mariana Evica welcomed those assembled. Governor Malloy spoke to promote local farm products and opportunities for low-income residents to obtain nutritious food at neighborhood farmers’ markets.
8.5.15 Malloy farmersmkt8.5.15 rivera farmersmktSNAP enrollee Jackie Rivera spoke about the value of SNAP in helping to pay for nutritious foods for her four kids and herself. Thanks, Jackie!

SNAP is accepted at about 46 farmers’ markets across Connecticut, some of which, including the North End Farmers’ Market, double SNAP benefits. To find a local farmers’ market that accepts SNAP, click here. Did you know? You can enroll in SNAP at a local Federally-Qualified Health Center! Find one here.

Thank you Governor Malloy for bringing attention to this valuable program! You can watch video of the whole event on CT-N!


Reflections on My Community HealthCorps Service by Sam Pach

2015 HealthCorps

2014-2015 Community HealthCorps Members

Many people ask what a Community HealthCorps member is and what we do. The truth is, it depends. Around our office people like to say, “If you’ve seen one community health center… you’ve seen one community health center.” As HealthCorps members, our roles vary as much as our health centers do. One of the program’s biggest selling points to me was that we are not allowed to do anything that anyone else at the office already does. This means we are free to come in, start new projects, think creatively, and explore our interests.

In October, I dove headlong into the Affordable Care Act, insurance, and Medicaid in Connecticut. My primary role at CHCACT, at least to start, was to serve as a liaison between the enrollment workers (certified application counselors) at all of our community health centers and Access Health CT, the marketplace established through the Affordable Care Act. I troubleshot eligibility questions, ordered marketing materials, and helped facilitate weekly conference calls with the CACs.

Getting insurance is confusing, and using it can be even more daunting. As an aspiring medical student I had done my fair share of shadowing doctors. I came to HealthCorps with some exposure to the clinical side of medicine. My HealthCorps experience, however, was from a new perspective. It was a chance to see another side of the medical team. A side that is imperative to a patient’s health. Enrollment workers are the access point to care for many patients. Now, as I move on to medical school, I will hold with me the experience of seeing some of the hurdles a patient faces just to get into the doctor’s office.

In February, my role expanded. Open Enrollment ended and I had the time to explore new projects. My supervisor, Deb Polun, mentioned CHCACT’s blog and how it would be interesting to make videos on different programs the health centers have. From February until July I made 16 videos. I had never edited video before but I was afforded the opportunity and time to learn. In my year of service I also helped write (and receive) a grant for $40,000, worked on a mapping project that showed legislators the use of health centers among their constituents, and also participated in weekend service projects.
CHCACT staff
HealthCorps gave me the flexibility and space to explore my interests and find ones I didn’t know I had. I am grateful to everyone who offered advice/help/encouragement over the service year. Thanks especially to the CACs and to Deb Polun, your dedication inspired me throughout the year! I hope our paths cross again. – Sam