Community Care

Clients find clothes, comfort in transformed closet

By Elissa Bass

After seeing a new client at Natchaug Hospital’s Older Adult outpatient program wear the same outfit for every visit, office manager Logan McNamara and Andrea Reischerl, APRN, approached her privately. 

They learned the woman, who is blind, had no money to buy clothing and struggled to get to places where free clothes were offered. The news prompted the Natchaug colleagues to bring an idea to their director. 

“We got the okay to take in donations of clothing to provide to clients who needed them,” McNamara said. 

The Older Adult program works with people 55 and older with mental health and/or substance abuse issues. Clients come three to five days a week, staying for three or more hours each time for therapy and programs. 

McNamara posted on her personal Facebook asking for donations, and items flowed in. A friend shared the message on the Windham Buy & Sell Facebook group, and the flow became a deluge, filling McNamara’s garage with bags of clothes, including nearly new winter coats and shoes. 

She has spent free time sorting, laundering and getting items ready for clients. Items that were a little worse for wear were donated to the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry, which provides free clothing to those in need. 

At Natchaug, the maintenance staff helped transform a supply closet into the Comfort Closet, adding racks and shelving to accommodate piles of clothing for men and women. 

The goal is to have each Natchaug outpatient programs create a Comfort Closet, including those for children. 

Logan McNamara, office manager at the Hartford HealthCare Senior Services at Windham Hospital, shows some of the clothing available for clients who use the services at the center. 

Photo by Jeff Evans

Hydration stations make waves in Northwest

By Tim Lebouthillier

Drink more water for a healthy life! That’s the message of the latest collaboration between Charlotte Hungerford Hospital (CHH) and the City of Torrington’s Sullivan Senior Center to help keep area seniors hydrated throughout the year. 

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic began, CHH donated two new filtered water fountain/bottle filling stations to the center. With the easing of restrictions recently restrictions, seniors are experiencing the benefits of the resource. 

“Drinking healthy amounts of water is great for senior health, and these state-of-the-art fountains also track the amount of plastic bottles that are saved, which also helps our environment,” said Joel Sikorsky, director of Torrington’s Services for the Elderly.

“We’ve made great progress on this initiative and look forward to working with the Hospital to continue our outreach.” 

Center staff initiated an awareness campaign that includes encouraging hydration and eliminating excess use of plastic water bottles with the purchase of reusable cups. 

“We are very pleased to join our community partners at the Senior Center and contribute to their efforts to highlight the benefits of drinking water and make it more accessible for their members. As healthcare providers, we continually look for ways foster good health and wellness in the communities we serve.” said Joyce Germano, CHH’s community development coordinator. 

CESI skipper honored at graduation

By Brenda Kestenbaum

Collaboration with corporations and the U.S. government brings a wide assortment of “students” through the Hartford HealthCare Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation (CESI) each year. 

For the past 15 years, groups of medical personnel from the U.S. Naval Sub Base in Groton have come to CESI for part of their training in the prestigious Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) program. Every Navy sub has an IDC, a medical person who is not a doctor but has gone through rigorous training to manage all traumas, acute and chronic illnesses they may encounter while out on a mission. 

The role CESI plays in this training has grown over the years under the oversight of Director of Operations Steve Donahue. Because of his efforts, Donahue was honored by this year’s graduating class in Groton with an award presented every year to someone who is “most influential in their development and training.” Typically, that is an individual considered within the U.S. Navy “circle.” Donahue was also invited to speak at graduation. 

Steve Donahue was honored by the U.S. Navy this year during graduation at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton for helping to train seamen at the Hartford HealthCare Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation.