HARTFORD — Connecticut’s iconic insurance giant has earned a distinction that probably didn’t exist a decade ago. According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), Aetna is one of 2012’s “Best Places To Work” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees.


According to HRC, only 190 of the 850 businesses evaluated achieved a perfect score in the group’s 2012 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) rating. Aetna was among them. The CEI rates companies on 40 specific policies and practices related to the LGBT community, 32 of which are new or more demanding this year. As a result of this change in criteria, the number of companies achieving a perfect score was reduced by almost 50 percent.


In the mid-1990s, Aetna implemented changes to many policies affecting domestic partners. In early 2009, Aetna was the first major health-benefits company to add gender reassignment surgery as a benefit for its employees and any contracted companies choosing to add it to their benefits package. In addition, Aetna’s LGBT employee resource group (ERG) has chapters across the U.S., including a virtual chapter that engages employees regardless of their work location.

NORTH HAVEN — Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) will move ahead with its plans to develop an outpatient center in the former AT&T building at 6 Devine Street. YNHH will purchase and remodel the 120,000-square-foot, four-story building for a comprehensive ambulatory care program.


“We are delighted to move this project forward,” said Richard D’Aquila, YNHH’s president and COO. “The concept of a Yale-New Haven ambulatory center has received widespread community support. It will create access to key health services for residents of North Haven, Hamden, Cheshire and other surrounding communities.”


Plans for the new facility include a walk-in/primary care center to provide comprehensive medical services from injury care to management of chronic conditions. The center will be open seven days a week.


The building will also include a Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center for outpatient medical and hematological care for cancer patients and an Inflammatory Disease Center for patients with multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and related disorders. The facility will offer onsite MRI and digital X-ray imaging, as well as laboratory and blood-draw services.


In addition, Yale New Haven Health System will consolidate and move some of its information-technology offices from multiple sites in New Haven to the North Haven facility, which is estimated to open next January 1.

NORTH HAVEN — Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield in Connecticut last month announced an innovative, patient‐centered primary-care program that will fundamentally change its relationship with primary-care physicians by increasing its financial support of their practices and to help manage their patients’ health, the company said.


Anthem said it would collaborate with primary-care physicians on enhanced information sharing, care-management coordination and provide an opportunity to share in the savings generated by increasing health care value. Thereby improving quality while reducing cost. 


 “We know that the physician-patient relationship is the most important one in promoting health and wellness. As such, primary care is critical,” said Anthem President David R. Fusco.


Anthem’s patient‐centered primary care program builds and expands upon the best practices from successful medical home pilots. Last year Anthem launched a patient-centered medical home pilot. The goal of the program is to improve access to primary care, enhance care coordination, primarily through a care management model and track outcomes such as emergency room visits, inpatient admissions and hospital readmissions.


Anthem is launching a similar program with select family practitioners this year.

NEW HAVEN — The Father Michael J. McGivney Center for Cancer Care at the Hospital of Saint Raphael is launching several new wellness efforts, including medical Pilates for cancer patients, in-bed yoga, holistic nutrition and live music for patients and their loved ones in the center’s lobby.


“Our new programs allow us to treat the whole person both during and after cancer care with the latest in wellness therapies,” said Joseph Cardinale, MD, medical director of the McGivney Center. “These programs augment our medical expertise and state-of-the-art technology like CyberKnife radiosurgery to allow for a complete range of treatment and support options.”


Medical Pilates, offered at the center’s New Haven campus, combines elements of physical therapy and traditional Pilates exercises to reduce stress and improve muscle strength, posture and flexibility. Certified physical therapist and Pilates instructor Wendy Price will lead the class, designed for cancer survivors and patients in all stages of treatment. The class is free; participants must pre-register by calling 203-789-3488.



Other new HSR wellness programs in New Haven include holistic nutrition demonstrations by a dietician featuring cancer-fighting foods held monthly in the McGivney Center lobby. In addition, January saw the launch of in-bed and in-chair yoga and meditation as part of the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program, founded by fashion designer Donna Karan. In coming months, the McGivney Center’s Integrative Wellness program will be expanding to include acupuncture for cancer patients.

MIDDLETOWN — Community Health Center Inc. (CHC) has launched a state-of-the-art, evidence-based program known as CHC Project ECHO Hepatitis C/HIV. CHC is one of the first community health centers in the nation to replicate the ECHO model. Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a model developed by the University of New Mexico initially to extend hepatitis C care and management to the rural clinics.


The program uses video-conferencing, electronic health records, disease management and case-based learning to expand access to specialty care for underserved patients. The purpose is to provide specialist support and education to help primary-care teams manage cases that would otherwise be referred out to specialists.


“We are very excited to be offering this innovation at CHC which will allow us to offer specialized treatment to patients across the state, many of whom do not have access to such treatment otherwise. In many communities there are few specialists willing to accept patient without insurance or with state funded Medicaid insurance.” explained Marwan Haddad, MD, medical director of HIV, HCV and buprenorphine services.


Currently, CHC offers HIV and hepatitis C management and treatment as part of primary care at New Britain, Meriden and Middletown. Through CHC Project ECHO HIV/Hepatitis C care will now be offered at additional sites across Connecticut including Bristol, Norwalk, Waterbury, Enfield, Clinton and New London via weekly video-conferencing sessions.


For more information, visit chc1.com.

NEW HAVEN — A bevy of moms, babies and VIPs celebrated the first birthday of the Dr. Romeo A. and Lena B. Vidone Birth Center at the Hospital of Saint Raphael on Friday, February 10. Department of Public Health Commissioner Jewel Mullen, MD, attended the event, which also marked the Vidone Center’s designation as Baby-Friendly for promotion of breast feeding. 


“I congratulate Saint Raphael’s on the Baby-Friendly designation,” Mullen said. “This is really part of an international effort to promote breastfeeding for its many benefits for mothers and their infants.” With the addition of HSR, Connecticut can boast of 14 percent of infants being born in Baby-Friendly hospitals, compared to only five percent nationwide, Mullen said.


 The World Health Organization and UNICEF started the Baby-Friendly initiative to recognize hospitals that educate and enable parents to make informed choices about how they feed and care for their babies.

DERBY — The Griffin Hospital School of Allied Health Careers will be offering an evening program for adults with high school diploma or GED to qualify to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).
The 16-week course, which begins March 12, includes 12 weeks of Monday evening classes, followed by a four weeks of clinical experience at an extended care facility on Monday and Wednesday evenings.

The course content will include infection control, legal and ethical responsibilities, communications, body mechanics, moving and positioning residents, personal care skills, nutrition, measuring vital signs and restorative care. Students completing the course will be qualified to take the state exam for certification as a Nursing Assistant.
The $1,200 CNA course tuition fee includes the course book, workbook and malpractice insurance coverage for the clinical rotation. Phone 203-732-1276 for more information.

WEST HAVEN — Anti-viral drug developer NanoViricides Inc. has received a boost to its influenza research program in the form of a $2.5 million tranche from Seaside 88, LP, completing a $5 million round of financing.


Seaside invested an initial $2.5 million round late last year. To date Florida-based Seaside has provided NanoViricides a total of $20 million in funding.


The company continues research into treatments for various other diseases, including HIV; it says it has developed an anti-HIV ligand that is superior to those it previously has developed.