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.


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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.

New Haven and Hartford were among the top ten U.S. cities cited for top hospital care quality in a new industry study.


The two cities were collectively ranked ninth out of the top 50 cities that provide the best quality hospital care, and five in-state hospitals were recognized as top performers nationwide. 


The study, conducted by HealthGrades, a Colorado-based independent health care ratings organization, ranked 5,000 American hospitals based on mortality and complication rates complied from Medicare data.

Baltimore, Md. ranked No. 1 in the nation.


In Connecticut five hospitals made the "Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence," list: St. Mary's Hospital in Waterbury, New Haven’s Hospital of Saint Raphael, Griffin Hospital in Derby, Hartford Hospital and Middlesex Hospital.

Rule change could save $28M a year, advocates say


HARTFORD — Under Connecticut law, a home health aide can spend all day caring for you, but if you need help taking your pills, you'll need a nurse to come give them to you.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy next week will recommend changing that, a move his administration says could save the state more than $28 million a year and remove a barrier that keeps people from moving out of nursing homes.

The plan is likely win the backing of advocates of efforts to enable more seniors and people with disabilities to receive care at home, who say that the expenses associated with medication administration have made moving out of nursing homes cost-prohibitive for many people.

But it's also likely to draw opposition from nurses and some home health care agencies, which criticized a similar proposal last year, arguing that the expertise of nurses is needed to safely administer medications to vulnerable patients and identify problems that occur.

"You will find nobody in the state who deals with these patients who is in favor of this, not even if their job depends on the governor's goodwill," Rep. Peter Tercyak, D-New Britain, said Friday. Tercyak, who works as a home care nurse and co-chairs the Human Services Committee, said he would fight the proposal "tooth and nail."

Last fiscal year, the state spent $128.28 million to have nurses administer medication to about 8,500 Medicaid clients, averaging $54 per visit. One client, the heaviest user, received 2,650 nursing visits, costing the state $156,565.24 -- not including the cost of the drugs. Another 12 clients also required more than $100,000 apiece in medication administration fees.

Malloy's proposal will call for alternate methods for people to receive their medication, including allowing trained home health aides to dispense it according to the instructions of a nurse and letting clients use so-called assistive technology such as medication reminders and pill dispensers. The plan assumes that nurses would still administer medication for most clients and would not prevent doctors from requiring that nurses give patients the medication they prescribe.

Allowing for more flexibility in administering medications has been a recommendation of advocates for expanding the use of home-based long-term care. State officials have been working to help people who wish to move out of nursing homes transition to home or community settings through a federal demonstration program called Money Follows the Person. It requires that the cost of community care fall below certain levels that are based on what institutional care costs, and people monitoring the program say the cost of medication administration can stand in the way of people meeting the cost requirement.

"This is turning out to be one of the most significant barriers to success in Money Follows the Person," said Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, Malloy's budget director.

Connecticut is one of 44 states participating in Money Follows the Person. But during a recent six-month period, the state had 30 percent of the total cases nationally in which the projected cost prevented a person from moving into the community.

The Malloy administration's plan has four components. They would:

•  Expand "nurse delegation" for medication administration, allowing home health aides who are trained and certified to administer oral and topical medications and eye drops. Home health care agencies would have to have specially trained home health aides to do so. Nurses would still be required to administer injections and medications identified by the client's doctor as having to be administered by licensed providers. Nurses would also be responsible for organizing the medications for home health aides and giving the aides individualized instructions. Some state funds would cover training and implementation costs.

•  Allow agency-based personal care attendants to administer medications. Currently, independent personal care attendants hired through a Medicaid waiver program are allowed to administer medications if the clients hire and train them.

•  Provide Medicaid coverage for the use of assistive technology such as medication reminders and automatic pill dispensers, which could be used in place of having a nurse administer the medications.

•  Reduce the rates paid to nurses for administering medication by 10 percent, saving $10.3 million in the coming fiscal year and $11.2 million a year after that.

Altogether, the administration projected that the changes would save $20.5 million in the coming fiscal year, accounting for time to implement the changes, and $28.6 million annually after that.



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 WATERBURY — The Community Health Center (CHC) in Middletown is opening its 13th medical office and first in New Haven County.

The Middletown not-for-profit health care provider, which serves mostly the uninsured or underinsured, is opening a new full service medical center on North Elm Street in Waterbury.

The $1.2 million project consisted of a renovation of the former St. Mary's Family Health Center, located in the heart of downtown. The completed site currently employs ten full-time and one part-time worker, including three primary-care providers, two medical assistants, one dental hygienist, one psychologist and one psychiatric nurse practitioner.

The center offers comprehensive primary medical, behavioral health and dental hygiene services for all ages and provides assistance with application for public insurance and other support programs.

CHC is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), which means as part of its funding it receives grants from the federal government to provide primary care, including medical, dental and behavioral health services, to people regardless of ability to pay.