“We are only five miles from Waterbury, but it might as well have been 50 miles for some people. It was still a barrier, not having a medical provider close by.” Janet Ciarlegio, office manager at StayWell Health Care’s new community health center in Naugatuck continued, “Now people can walk here!”
The new clinic is giving local residents access to much-needed health care.
After renovating a storefront church at 30 Church Street in the center of Naugatuck, StayWell opened the gleaming clinic in August 2016 and it has rapidly become a health care hub. In the first full year of operation, StayWell projects that 2,456 people will receive 7,900 medical, dental and behavioral health visits.
Why Naugatuck? It’s a community with growing health care needs. The prevalence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer mortality and pediatric asthma are higher than the national average. Opioid addiction is on the rise, too. And, many residents have to endure burdensome travel to another city or town for care since many local doctors don’t accept state insurance.
Seeing the need, many community partners—led by StayWell and the federal government—rolled up their sleeves, and Connecticut Community Foundation pitched in with a $49,000 grant from its Saunders Fund that equipped four of the clinic’s medical exam rooms and a dental suite. Necessary exam tables, digital scales, autoclaves, thermometers, vital sign monitors, a blood analyzer, a 360-degree dental x-ray machine and more now enhance the rooms.
The new health center provides “one stop shopping”—medical, dental and behavioral health services in one location, including prenatal and gynecological care and psychotherapy. Need blood drawn? There’s a phlebotomy lab on-site.
Don Thompson, StayWell’s CEO, said, “We were intentional about creating a clinic where all services are integrated. For example, if a child comes for a physical, we can screen for depression, and right there our medical doctor just walks across the hall and personally introduces the patient to the behavioral health team. We call it a ‘warm handoff.’”
Ciarlegio added “We treat people as whole people, and serve people from all walks of life who can’t qualify for any kind of health insurance—undocumented, transgender, workers in their 40s and 50s, people with disabilities and many older adults. One person hadn’t had her teeth cleaned in 20 years! She was so grateful.”