Community Served by Griffin Hospital and How the Community was Determined
Griffin Hospital is a subsidiary of Griffin Health Services Corporation which includes Healthcare Alliance Insurance Company, a Grand Cayman’s based insurance captive, G.H. Ventures, a for profit subsidiary with principal holdings in real estate, the Griffin Hospital Development Fund, Planetree Inc. and NuVal, LLC a joint Venture with Topco Inc. After employing the Planetree model of care at Griffin Hospital as the first member of the Planetree Network in 1991, the not-for-profit Planetree organization, founded in 1978, became a subsidiary of Griffin Health Services Corporation in 1998. At the time there were 16 Planetree Network members; today there are 250 hospitals and continuing care facility members including members in Canada, the Netherlands, and Brazil. Planetree has pioneered a patient-centered approach to care and in personalizing, humanizing and demystifying the healthcare experience for patients and their families. In 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) selected Planetree to collaborate with the new VA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation in the development of the VA’s own patient-centered care model for Veterans who receive health care services at VA’s more than 1,000 sites across the nation.
Today the non-profit Griffin Hospital is a 160 bed, 15 bassinette acute care hospital with 6,904 discharges and 196,386 outpatient visits in fiscal year 2012. With 1,325 full time, part time and per diem employees it is the Valley’s largest employer with employee compensation and benefits last year totaling $73 million, fifty-seven percent of Griffin’s expense budget of $128 million. Over $47 million is spent on supplies and services much of which is to area vendors. With 70% of the hospital’s employees residing in the hospital’s primary service area, Griffin Hospital is an economic engine for the community it serves.
Griffin Hospital is an acute care hospital providing inpatient and outpatient medical care and related services for obstetrics, surgery and acute medical conditions or injuries usually for a short duration. Griffin provides psychiatric and mental health services including an inpatient unit. Griffin offers a number of innovative programs designed to provide enhanced community access to a broad range of services and meet community needs. These include: A Wound Treatment Center, Integrative Medicine Center, Multiple Sclerosis Center, Pain and Headache Treatment Center, Sleep Wellness Center, Joint Replacement Center Occupational Medicine Center, Inpatient Hospice Service, Center for Cancer Care with radiation therapy service, Center for Breast Wellness, Bariatrics Service, Medi-Weight Loss Service, Griffin Retail Pharmacy, Chemical Dependency and Addiction Service, Enhanced External Counter Pulsation Service, Anti-Coagulation Service and an Infusion Center.
The combined population of Griffin’s six town primary service area (the Valley) is 107,269. The six suburban town’s that make up the hospital’s primary service area are: Ansonia – population 19,219, size 6.2 sq. miles, Beacon Falls – population 6,038, size 9.9 sq. miles, Derby – population 12,882, size 5.4 sq. miles, Oxford – population 12,662, size 33 sq. miles, Seymour – population 16,514, 15 sq. miles, Shelton – population 39,954, size 32 sq. miles. The combined size of the six town Valley region is 101.5 square miles.
The 1980’s was a decade of change for the six town, Southern Connecticut community as it was transformed from a manufacturing to a more affluent corporate and bedroom community with a more diverse population and employment base. The catalyst for change was a new highway (Route 8) through the community which connected two interstates, I-95 along Connecticut’s coastal shore and I-84 from Connecticut’s western border with New York State through central Connecticut. Over a four year period from 1984 – 1988, retail sales in the six Valley towns doubled and single family home values increased by 80% and surveys revealed that 4 of 10 residents lived in the community 10 years or less.
This was the most prosperous part of Connecticut in the early days of industrialization. The region was the location of key factories in national industries, most notably the brass industry, rubber manufacturing, petrochemical production and shipbuilding. Prior to 1980, the community had seen little change for more than 50 years. Residents were immigrants who migrated to the community in the early 1900’s principally from Ireland, Italy, Poland and Russian satellite countries. Wage earners worked in manufacturing and shopped and used health and human services in the community. Residents typically remained in the community for their lifetime.
The economic crisis began in the 1970’s as manufacturing firms downsized. By 1990, many would be out of business and the remaining would be one quarter their former size. In 1975, the largest arson fire in U.S. history put over 1,000 people out of work. The unemployment rate towered at 18%. Fueled by the new highway, the community began a period of unprecedented change, development and growth. The new highway had exposed the region’s advantages to developers. Available and inexpensive land coupled with suburban living in a pastoral setting and a close commute to commercial centers acted as a magnet for young professionals seeking homes and a suburban lifestyle.
Community leadership recognized the need to respond to the changing community demographics and the different socioeconomic and health needs and expectations of the more diverse population. Three major new structures were created. In 1993, the Valley Council of Health and Human Service Organizations (VCHHSO) was founded. More than 55 organizations that provide most of the health and human services are members. VCHHSO’s vision is a provider network that works collaboratively to create an integrated human services delivery system that meets the needs of all residents. "Healthy Valley 2000", the state’s first healthy community effort, was launched in 1994. With foundation grant support, the National Civic League was engaged to guide Stakeholders through the process. The vision of the broad-based, volunteer inspired and managed effort was to improve the health and quality of life of the community and its residents by making the community a better place in which to live, work, shop, raise a family and enjoy life. Based on research, including use of the National Civic League Index, a S.W.O.T analysis, and brainstorming, 175 Stakeholders identified Arts & Recreation, Community Involvement, Economic Development, Education and Health as priorities. A task force developed a work plan for each of the priorities and an honor role was developed to recognize initiatives undertaken independently by individuals or organizations related to the identified priorities.
The Valley’s population continues to grow and is becoming increasingly more affluent. The combined Valley population is projected to be 109,510 in 2017. The Valley’s population is primarily white at 91.1%. The black or African American population is 2.9% and the Asian population is 2.3%. The Hispanic or Latino population is 5.9%. Population by ancestry is primarily Italian – 23%, Polish/Russian/Ukrainian – 17% and Irish – 11%. The age 65 and over population is 14% compared to the State of Connecticut also at 14% in 2010. English is the primary language spoken in 86% of homes. The estimated average family household income for Valley residents is $95,592 and the median family household income is $83,335. It is estimated that 1,149 families (3.9%) of Valley families have Incomes below the poverty level. (Additional details in Demographics)
The Valley, geographically located in south central Connecticut, is surrounded by three of the state’s largest cities, New Haven, to the South, Bridgeport, to the Southwest, and Waterbury to the North. There are two tertiary care hospitals in Bridgeport and Waterbury and with the merger of the Hospital of St. Raphael with Yale New Haven Hospital one very large hospital in New Haven. Yale New Haven Hospital is now one of the ten largest hospitals in the country. Each has varying degrees of market share in Griffin’s primary service area towns depending on the proximity to the three cities and the hospitals located there. A sixth hospital, Milford Hospital in Milford, Connecticut is a community hospital. The tertiary care hospitals, each with larger service areas including the primary urban city in which they are located, abdicate preventive care and health education services in the Valley area to Griffin Hospital. The six hospitals that surround Griffin Hospital (including the Yale New Haven Hospital St. Raphael Campus), their Average Daily Census (ADC) in 2012 and the distance in miles from Griffin Hospital to each of the seven are:
Hospital of St. Raphael, New Haven, CT 288 ADC - 9.3 miles
Yale New-Haven Hospital, New Haven, CT 845 ADC - 10.6 miles
Milford, Hospital, Milford, CT 40 ADC - 10.3 miles
Bridgeport Hospital, Bridgeport, CT 278 ADC - 13.8 miles
St. Vincent’s Hospital, Bridgeport, CT 336 ADC - 12.8 miles
St. Mary’s Hospital, Waterbury, CT 142 ADC - 16.2 miles
Waterbury Hospital, Waterbury, CT 157 ADC - 16.9 miles
Additional information for the seven hospitals and for Griffin Hospital from the CT Office of Health Care Access follows:
Hospital of St. Raphael, Licensed beds – 533, No. of Employees – 3,776, No. of Physicians – 665, ER Visits FY 2009 – 55,607, Admissions FY 2009 – 23,924
Yale New-Haven Hospital, Licensed beds- 1,008, No. of Employees – 7,950, No. of Physicians – 1,729 ER Visits FY 2009 - 137,911, Admissions FY 2009 – 57,451
Milford Hospital, Licensed beds – 111, No. of Employees – 548, No. of Physicians – 20, ER Visits FY 2009 – 39,946, Admissions FY 2009 – 4,800
Bridgeport Hospital, Licensed beds – 425, No. of Employees – 2,085, No. of Physicians – 590, ER Visits FY 2009 – 76,836, Admissions FY 2009 – 19,026
St. Vincent’s Hospital, Licensed beds – 520, No. of Employees – 2,773, No. of Physicians – 632, ER Visits FY 2009 – 75,146, Admissions FY 2009 – 22,100
St. Mary’s Hospital, Licensed beds – 379, No. of Employees – 1,348, No. of Physicians – 52, ER Visits FY 2009 – 69,212, Admissions FY 2009 – 12,512
Waterbury Hospital, Licensed beds – 393, No. of Employees – 1,589, No. of Physicians – 121, ER Visits FY 2009 – 58,132, Admissions FY 2009 – 13,916
Griffin Hospital (Fiscal 2012), Licensed beds – 160, No. of Employees – 1,325 No. of Physicians Active Medical Staff – 149, Courtesy Medical Staff – 150, ER Visits – 41,256, No. of Discharges – 6,904, Outpatient Visits – 196,386, Average Length of Stay – 4.17 days.
Griffin Hospital is a teaching hospital and research center and offers outstanding post graduate medical education in internal and preventive medicine. Griffin Hospital’s Average Daily Census in 2010 was 80. Griffin is a teaching affiliate of the Yale University School of Medicine where many of Griffin’s physicians hold teaching positions. For its size, Griffin has one of the most extensive Medical Education Programs at a community (non-academic) hospital. The Griffin Hospital graduate medical education program combines the academic advantages of an internationally recognized university medical school with an excellent community hospital. With the collaboration of the Yale School of Public Health, Griffin offers a unique training program – The Combined Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine Residency Training Program. Griffin was the first hospital in the United States to offer this program and remains one of the few programs in the nation which offers this combined training. Through the program, residents not only complete their internal medicine and preventive medicine training requirements, but also obtain a Masters degree in Public Health from Yale University. Griffin’s Graduate Medical Education Program also offers a Preliminary Medicine and a Categorical Internal Medicine Program. In total there may be as many as 30 medical interns and residents enrolled at Griffin at a given time.
Griffin is recognized as a high quality, low cost hospital (see Section IV Griffin Hospital Quality of Care) and one of the most efficient hospital’s in the state in part because Griffin’s leadership has worked hard to standardize care processes based on what works best. Griffin constantly reviews systems and procedures to improve operating efficiency. This focus has become even more critical as the hospital industry continues to transform in response to the various provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, shrinking third party (both governmental payers and managed care companies) hospital rate increases and the likelihood that powerful incentives will increasingly be offered by the Medicare program that are likely to result in what could be a dramatic reduction in the utilization of hospital services and the revenue those services generate. In anticipation that the combination of these events would have negative impact on hospital volume and revenue, Griffin embarked on a comprehensive performance improvement initiative in collaboration with a major national consulting firm in 2012. The initiative was successful in identifying revenue enhancement and expense reduction opportunities and specific plans were developed to realize those opportunities with a goal of margin improvement to provide the financial resources the hospital would need to fulfill its mission and ensure its long term viability in what is expected to be an increasingly hostile operating environment. The intended goal was to position Griffin Hospital as the high value hospital in the region offering superior quality and low costs. The opportunities identified and the difficult steps taken to reduce the hospital’s workforce and supply and purchased service costs resulted in savings of more than $6 million. This was done to compensate for three years of no Medicare payment increases, the state’s previous decrease in uncompensated care funding, imposition of a re-distributive provider tax system in Connecticut in which Griffin was one of only seven hospitals that were net losers and the potential for future decreases in volume and revenue as the industry continues to transform.
The hospital continues, as George Griffin envisioned, meeting the health care needs of residents of the community served by providing quality clinical services and creating an exceptional healthcare experience. What he didn’t envision was that over a century later Griffin Hospital would be recognized internationally for its innovative programs, Planetree patient-centered approach to care, its unique healing environment and as a model for other hospitals and companies. Griffin remains committed to creating an exceptional experience for its patients, their family and its employees as well as being the employer of choice in the region.
How Community was Determined
Griffin Hospital’s founders identified the need for a community hospital to serve residents of the towns of Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton collectively defined as the (Lower Naugatuck) Valley in 1901. While the Valley is surrounded by three of the state’s five largest cities (New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury), the Valley evolved as an insular community due to the ethnic make-up of the population, the topography of the Valley and difficult transportation due to an inadequate road system from the Valley to the three urban cities.
The Valley, at the time, was made up principally of immigrants of Italian, Irish and Polish/Russian descent who migrated from their homeland to New York and then the sixty miles from New York to the Valley. As the years passed additional family members migrated to the Valley resulting in large nuclear and extended families. The Valley had transformed from an inland seaport to a blue collar manufacturing community with about a dozen large privately owned manufacturing companies producing rubber, heavy machinery (rubber mixers, sugar manufacturing mills, etc.) and various copper and brass products that provided full employment for Valley residents with relatively high manufacturing wages. Valley residents lived, shopped, worked, recreated and used health care services in the community.
Additional migration and a high birth rate resulting in large families, produced population increases that expanded the Valley to include the “rural” farm communities of Beacon Falls and Oxford.
The Valley became self-defined to include the six towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Derby, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton. Community organizations emerged that included all or most of the six towns. They included: Valley Council of Government, Valley Regional Planning Agency, Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, Valley United Way, Naugatuck Valley Health District, Valley Council of Health and Human Service Organizations, Valley Emergency Medical Services, Valley Transit District, Valley Substance Abuse Action Council.
Concurrent with the evolution of the Valley, Griffin Hospital defined its Primary Service Area to include the six towns that comprise the Valley region. Griffin board members and management were members of the Valley Community and as loyal to the community and residents as residents were loyal to Griffin Hospital. Griffin became a pioneer in community health improvement and in developing partnerships with Valley health and human service organizations to improve the health and quality of life of the community and its residents.
As a result, the six tertiary care hospitals in the three urban cities focused on the larger populations in the cities and other suburban communities for community health improvement and outreach efforts and basically abdicated the six town Valley region to Griffin Hospital. The material in this Community Health Needs Assessment including the Mission Statement: “to provide leadership to improve the health of the community served” will document Griffin’s commitment to the six town Valley community that has been its Service Area for over a century.
Griffin Hospital Mission, Community Benefit and Social Responsibility
Griffin Hospital’s mission is to provide personalized, humanistic, consumer-driven healthcare in a healing environment, to empower individuals to be actively involved in decisions affecting their care and well-being through access to information and education and to provide leadership to improve the health of the community served.
Quality and Service
Providing access to information for patients, families and the community on the nature, diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions including the full range of traditional and non-traditional therapies.
Facilitating patients to be informed of medical conditions including the full range of traditional and non-traditional therapies.
Measuring, monitoring and reporting performance against service and quality standards benchmarked to the best community hospitals.
Respect and Dignity
Embracing patients and families as partners in the care process.
Treating all people with compassion.
Attending to the mind and the spirit as well as the body.
Preserving privacy and confidentiality.
Valuing positive relationships among members of the Griffin family and fostering an environment of mutual respect and support
Building and sustaining collaborative working relationships within Griffin and between Griffin, other providers and community agencies.
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Encouraging and recognizing performance leading to the development of “value added” programs and services and improvements in efficiency and effectiveness.
Achieving high productivity by efficient use of resources including people’s time.
Being accountable for use of resources at all levels of the organization.
Community Service and Social Responsibility – Griffin has a history of community service and social responsibility dating back to its founding 100 years ago and of providing educational, prevention and screening programs and services. In 1970, funded by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, Griffin established one of the first hospital Departments of Community Health in the country to focus on the health and social needs of the community it serves. Over the past fifteen years, Griffin’s reach has been expanding into the community like never before. In addition to providing health information and services to the public at the hospital and other satellite locations, Griffin takes these activities into the communities where patients live and work. By offering a variety of support groups, training sessions, educational programs, and other community-based resources and activities, and collaborating with other non-profit organizations and government entities, Griffin has extended its mission far beyond the hospital’s walls to improve the health and quality of life of people of all ages. This is consistent with one of the Planetree model’s ten components “Healthy Communities – working with schools, senior centers, churches and other community partners, hospitals are redefining healthcare to include the health and wellness of the larger community”.
The Board adopted Strategic Plan for the 2010 – 2013 period, included a provision to conduct a community health needs assessment and adopt a strategy to meet community health needs identified in the assessment. The provision included obtaining input from a broadly diverse cross section of the community the hospital serves. It also included the posting of the assessment on the Corporate Social Responsibility section of the hospital’s website.
Department of Community Outreach and Parish Nursing - More than ten years ago, the hospital established the Department of Community Outreach and Parish Nursing to fulfill its healthy community mission and goals. Through this department, Griffin Hospital sponsors and provides operational leadership for the Valley Parish Nurse Program (VPNP), one of the largest parish nurse initiatives in the country. The Valley Parish Nurse Program started in 1990 now includes 35 churches with an aggregate population of over 35,000 parishioners in Griffin’s six-town service area, population 107,000. While services are provided to a cross-section of the population, the primary focus of outreach efforts are to the underserved, minority, low income populations and the elderly. Parish nurses are persons of faith who are experienced registered nurses, and who have received special education in holistic health care. They have skills in teaching and health counseling as well as knowledge of community resources. The parish nurse promotes wellness within the congregation, enhances the church’s outreach ministry, and strengthens the awareness of the connection between faith and health.
Griffin coordinates the program out of its Department of Community Outreach and Parish Nursing. The department has five employees who support the 75 volunteer parish nurses and 320 volunteers who serve on the Healthcare Cabinets of the churches. The department’s annual operating budget is annually enriched by grants averaging from $70 – 150,000 from government and private funders.
The Mobile Health Resource Center - A 31 foot custom built Winnebago was purchased at a cost of $190,000 with grant funds from five benefactors. The mobile Health Resource Center now in service replaced a six year old vehicle. The Center visited 1,319 sites in fiscal year 2012including senior centers, shopping centers, neighborhoods, companies and community events and fairs. It is a state of the art vehicle with significantly increased features and capabilities including external and internal televisions, a sink and refrigerator for health screening procedures, a computer work station and laptop with wireless Internet access and external graphics highlighting the Derby public Riverwalk. The Mobile Health Resource Center focuses on preventive health services and providing health education and screening services to neighborhoods, community events, health fairs, shopping centers and businesses/companies. It offers health education using the Internet, computer software programs and an array of health related books, publications and audio and videotapes. It is equipped with cholesterol, osteoporosis, diabetes and blood pressure screening equipment as well as a television and VCR.
Community Outreach Services - In fiscal year 2012, the Department of Community Outreach and the Valley Parish Nurse Program served 50,318 people. Services included 8,359 health screening recipients which contributed to 21,720 referrals to needed services. In addition, 1,579 educational programs were provided attended by 34,216 people and 3,558 people were trained in CPR. The program also provided and placed AED’s (Automated External Defibrillators) at community sites bringing the total number of AED’s placed at community sites to 65. The Town of Seymour, a recipient of five AED’s from the program was designated as the first “Heart Safe Community” in the region. Outreach programs included providing and fitting 616 youth bike helmets, 970 participants in infection control “germ buster” programs, providing and fitting 89 infant and booster care seats, printing and distributing 3,500 youth drug/alcohol/smoking prevention calendars, 930 pedestrian safety program participants and 113 CHIP (Childhood Identification Program Participants). The goal of the CPR Anytime Valley Initiative is to continue to increase the “out of hospital” survival rate of cardiac arrest victims by training at least 1,000 youth a year in CPR. In 2012, 1,902 youth were trained. In the year 69 cardiac arrest victims were assisted, 19 had CPR initiated and 14 who had bystander or family CPR initiated survived.
The Valley Parish Nurse Program participated in the first annual ‘Take a Stand Day 08” at Seymour High School a program designed to take proactive steps in saving lives and combating drinking and driving. Griffin and the Valley Parish Nurse Program again supported and participated in the program in 2009. For eight years in a row a student at Seymour High School had died an accidental death just before graduation prompting a number of initiatives to reverse what had become a terrible history. Seymour High School officials sent a letter of appreciation to the hospital.
Starting six years ago Griffin Hospital through its Department of Community Outreach and Parish Nursing, joined with Ansonia Community Action, the non-profit agency providing services to the African American community, for an outreach program to provide free cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension screening and health education for people who are 60 and older. The past two years the hospital sponsored a health fair for the African American community attended by more than 700 adults and children.
Greater Naugatuck Valley Safe Kids Chapter - In March 2005 the Valley Parish Nurse Program took on a new role and assignment with the establishment of The Greater Naugatuck Valley Safe Kids Chapter. Several years of inactivity by a former regional Safe Kids Coalition prompted the Connecticut Safe Kids Coalition to approach a number of community health and human service organizations in search of a new host. All suggested the Valley Parish Nurse Program because of its reputation, the leadership of Director of Community Outreach and Parish Nursing Daun Barrett, R.N., and her passion for improving the health and quality of life of residents of the communities served and history of conducting programs that focused on injury prevention and education of the youth of the Valley. In fiscal year 2012, the Valley Parish Nurse Program provided and fitted 606 bike helmets, provided and installed 89 infant/booster car seats and processed 1,642 children through the CHIP (Childhood Identification Program). The CHIP program provides families with free identification kits for their children, including fingerprinting, dental impressions and a video interview. The fair also features health, wellness and safety displays and a variety of educational materials.
The Safe Kids Chapter hosts children’s car seat safety programs and clinics open to the public throughout the year with support from the BJ’s Charitable Foundation. Hosted by Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians, the clinics offer car seat checks and instruction and installation of properly installed child safety seats.
The program has provided 17,000 substance abuse calendars to school students over five years with art created by elementary school children. The Valley Parish Nurse Program uses the calendars as part of a student education program.
In September 2009, Griffin Hospital, the Valley Parish Nurse Program and the Boys and Girls Club sponsored the 8th annual Children’s Health and Safety Fair. Activities included carnival games, Moon Bouncer, face painting, a magic show, fire engines, smoke house and rescue vehicles. Health, wellness and safety displays and activities included the Stew Leonards “WOW the Cow” and car and booster seat awareness. Free bike helmets were provided to the first 450 children.
Griffin Hospital, the Valley Parish Nurse Program, the Valley N.A.A.C.P., the City of Ansonia and the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven sponsored the Annual Community Health and Safety Fair for children and their parents for seven years; over 700 attended. Events included fitting free bike helmets for 250 children, a bike rodeo and car seat checks and installations. Youngsters took part in the CHIPS (Childhood Identification Program).
In 2009, the VPNP partnered with the Seymour Public Schools system to obtain a grant through the Traffic Safety Program to improve student safety around the town’s elementary schools. Through the grant 21 traffic safety signs, reflective poles, pedestrian crosswalk stands and highly visible raincoats for crossing guards were purchased. The Director of Security for the school system sent a letter of appreciation to President Charmel.
Certified CPR Training Center – Griffin Hospital has been a certified Community American Heart Association CPR Training Center since 2006. Director of Community Outreach and Parish Nursing Daun Barrett is the past American Heart Association National Faculty Member for the State of Connecticut. Barrett leads four CPR Training Center Faculty and 29 instructors in providing CPR training to community members and Griffin Hospital employees. The goal was to provide CPR training to as many lay people as possible to increase the survival rate of the out of hospital cardiac arrest victim by having the general public better prepared to perform bystander CPR when needed. The faculty and instructors have trained close to 22,000 people in CPR since 2004. At Griffin Hospital 1,164 employees have been trained in CPR. All are also trained in the use of AED’s.
Griffin Breast Health Initiative – The purpose of the Griffin Breast Health Initiative is to provide outreach and education to women, including the uninsured or underinsured, about the importance of breast wellness and early breast cancer detection and provide screening mammograms to women who would otherwise not be able to afford one. Led by Griffin Hospital and the staff of the Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness and the Valley Parish Nurse Program, the initiative will help navigate patients through the local healthcare system, working in tandem with partnering organizations including the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center and Planned Parenthood. Griffin Hospital has created the Valley Breast Care Fund in an effort to ensure that no person, regardless of age or socio-economic condition is denied a screening mammogram or diagnostic testing for breast cancer. Temporarily restricted funds have been created to hold gifts and grants that are directed to fund free or subsidized mammography services as well as other screenings or treatments that may arise if a breast abnormality is found. In most cases, patients must meet certain economic and insurance coverage criteria to be eligible to use these limited funds. The Valley Women’s Health Initiative has been raising funds to support the Valley Breast Health Initiative for more than 12 years, including the annual Women Making a Difference Tribute Luncheon and Breast Cancer Awareness fund raiser. Grants have also been received to support the initiative from the Hewitt Foundation and the Komen Foundation with the funds from Komen targeted to the cities of Shelton and Naugatuck where the breast cancer mortality rate is higher than the state’s rate. Under the Komen grant a minimum of 1,000 women will receive breast wellness education in an effort to increase access to screening mammograms at the Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness at Griffin Hospital and at least 200 women will receive free mammograms and screening ultrasounds where needed. A $15,000 grant was received from the Connecticut Community Foundation targeted specifically to provide outreach and education to women in Naugatuck. A $75,000 grant was received from the Connecticut Health and Education Facilities Authority to provide screening mammograms and diagnostic services as needed. To date more than $250,000 has been raised and over 250 women have been assisted.
Valley Women’s Health Initiative - In partnership with the Valley Women’s Health Initiative, Griffin Hospital sponsors the annual Women Making a Difference in the Valley luncheon and fundraiser. Over the past 10 years, 70 women who live and work in the Valley have been honored. Many of the 70 women had connections to Griffin Hospital, some as employees and volunteers. The honorees, who are nominated by individuals, business leaders and organizations, exemplify the multi-dimensional role that they play in today’s society as demonstrated by the contributions they have made to their community. The Valley Women’s Health Initiative is a collaboration of health agencies, community leaders, and volunteers working to address and improve women’s health issues, including breast cancer and heart disease. Griffin employees provide event planning promotion assistance. Griffin family members including employees and volunteers have been among the honorees. The initiative was launched in response to the high breast cancer mortality rate in the community, which was related to low rates of screening mammograms and the identification of breast cancer at advanced stages. Proceeds from the luncheon are earmarked for the Griffin Hospital/Valley Breast Cancer Fund, established in 2001 to ensure that no person, regardless of age or socio-economic status, is denied a mammogram or diagnostic testing for breast cancer. Over the years, $200,000 has been raised and 350 women have received care as a result of the initiative (including 293 Mammograms, 60 Breast Ultrasounds and 32 Breast Biopsies). Additional funds were expended to cover women whose insurance left them with balances they could not afford.
AED Placement at Public Sites - The Griffin Hospital Valley Parish Nurse Program coordinated obtaining funding for the purchase of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and has placed 65 AEDs at public non-profit Public Access Defibrillator sites in the community. Griffin Hospital also placed six AEDs in public and work areas including the main lobby and the cafeteria. AEDs are user friendly, heart shocking devices that can be used by anyone to treat someone suffering an emergency cardiac arrest.
Homeless Shelter Food Bank Donations - On behalf of its employees, Griffin Hospital made a donation of 1,649 cases of food valued at more than $25,000 to the community’s food banks and homeless shelter in April 2009. Employees voiced support for the initiative using funds that would normally be allocated for employee recognition gifts. The tractor trailer delivery truck was greeted by about 60 Griffin employees wearing special Griffin Centennial T-Shirts who rolled up their sleeves and worked side by side with the food bank volunteers to complete the distribution and loading of the food bank vehicles in two hours. The Planetree Healthy Communities Steering Committee adopted the Spooner House homeless shelter and food bank for ongoing support through employee food drives. In December 2012, an additional $6,000 was donated to Spooner House to help feed area families over the holidays and through the winter. The donation included $4,500 raised through Griffin’s annual “Holiday Wonderland of Trees” fundraiser organized by the Arts and Entertainment Planetree Steering Committee and an additional $1,500 from the hospital. Ongoing support is expected.
Patient and Community Support Groups and Educational Meetings - As part of Griffin’s holistic, community-based approach to healthcare, the hospital devotes significant time and attention to support groups. The caring and sharing that occurs in support groups have been shown to play an important role in maintaining wellness by helping patients and their families cope with a chronic illness or loss. The positive interaction, including hearing the experiences of other people, is a central part of changing attitudes and behavior. The newest information in treatment or coping can be shared. Often, group members express relief that they have found others who understand, through personal experience, and who care. Fears and doubts can be openly expressed, and peer support can be an invaluable aid. Following are the support groups offered with an explanation of their purpose:
By Your Side - Caregiver Support Group
If you're helping a loved one get through cancer treatment you are a caregiver. By Your Side Support Group meetings are held the first Mondayof each month. As a caregiver, you spend your days preparing meals, cleaning, providing transportation, talking to health care providers, administering medication, battling insurance companies and making sure your loved one gets everything they need. You may not think of yourself as a caregiver. You may see what you're doing as something natural - taking care of someone you care about. In By Your Side caregiver support group meetings you can relax, take a deep breath and think about yourself for a little while. The support group meetings offer a plethora of helpful tips, techniques, recipes and strategies for keeping life in balance. The support group focuses on the caregiver’s unique needs, concerns and questions with meetings led by Griffin staff. Other employees who are caring for family members attend as participants in the support group.
Bereavement Support Group
The Griffin Hospital Bereavement support group meets for six consecutive weeks, with both afternoon and evening meeting times available at the hospital as well as in the community. Adults of all ages meet weekly to share their thoughts, feelings and fears about their experience. The group is facilitated by experienced bereavement counselors, including the Director of Pastoral Care, at no charge.
Bereavement Support Group for Parents
Another Griffin Hospital Bereavement support group is held specifically for parents who outlive their child. The support group was started in 2006 after pastoral care staff recognized that these people have unique emotional and spiritual needs. The bereaved parents support group is facilitated by Griffin’s Director of Pastoral Care and another chaplain who is a volunteer at Griffin.
The Widow and Widower Support Group
The group offers facilitated meetings to those learning to live with the loss of their partner or spouse. The group meets monthly and is led by a member of Griffin Hospital's Pastoral Care Department.
Coping with Loss Through the Holidays
A two- part support group is scheduled annually during the Holiday season for people who have suffered a loss during the December Holidays.
Circle of Friends Breast Cancer Support Group
This is a twice monthly group co-sponsored by Griffin Hospital and the Y-ME of Connecticut Breast Cancer Support Organization. Breast cancer patients and survivors share feelings, stories and receive educational resources and materials. There are also guest speakers who are professionals in the field of breast cancer.
Griffin Hospital Diabetes Education and Support Group
The Diabetes Education and Support Group , in conjunction with the American Diabetes Association, meets monthly to discuss the management of diabetes, its challenges and day- to-day dietary concerns. The group is open to patients and their families, at no charge.
Fibromyalgia Support Group
The Fibromyalgia support group meets monthly, giving participants the opportunity to share information, offer encouragement and learn coping techniques for people affected with this condition. Fibromyalgia is a widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder which can interfere with all aspects of a person's life.
H.U.G.S. (Help Unlimited Griffin Support)
This extremely upbeat, positive group of people meets weekly to share the commonality of being touched in some way by cancer. Many have attended for years and embrace new members into this family setting immediately. They share their laughter and their pain with total confidentiality and actively participate and support annual events such as "Cancer Survivor's Day" and Relay for Life. Traditionally, a summer picnic and a Christmas party are enjoyed.
Mom 2 Mom
The Mom 2 Mom meetings are designed for expectant mothers in their 3rd trimester and new mothers and their babies. Discussions include baby related topics, such as preparing for baby, family life, feeding and nutrition, as well as participants’ own questions and concerns. A play group / social hour follows the meeting, so participants are encouraged to bring a toy along to share. Meetings are led by registered nurses, childbirth educators, and experienced mothers.
Nursing Moms is a free support group for breastfeeding women and their babies that meets monthly. The group is open to all pregnant and breastfeeding women regardless of where they delivered their baby. The group offers an opportunity for breastfeeding women to support and encourage each other, as well as provides the services of a Lactation Consultant to answer questions.
Sleep Apnea Support Group
The Sleep Apnea Support Group is staffed by the Griffin Hospital Sleep Wellness Center. The goal of the support group which meets monthly is to improve the quality of life for those affected by a sleeping disorder known as sleep apnea. There is no charge to attend.
Multiple Sclerosis Support Group
The Multiple Sclerosis Support Group is staffed by the staff of The Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Center which offers a comprehensive program for the evaluation and treatment of multiple sclerosis and related conditions.
Griffin Hospital Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group
The Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group is designed to provide emotional, educational and social support for caregivers through regularly scheduled meetings. It helps participants develop methods and skills to solve problems. The group encourages caregivers to maintain their own personal, physical and emotional health, as well as optimally care for the person with dementia.
Valley Heart Club
The Valley Heart Club is a heart disease support group that educates through its monthly meetings. The Valley Heart Club meets the third Tuesday of every month (excluding July, August and December).
Sharing Hearts of Griffin Hospital
"Sharing Hearts of Griffin Hospital" is a support group associated with the Valley Heart Club. It is intended to offer further support for those with heart disease. The discussions center around a variety of topics, all related to the challenges of coping with the disease process.
Look Good…Feel Better
The Center for Cancer Care offers a free monthly makeover program for women undergoing cancer treatment. Attendees receive a kit of complimentary cosmetic and skin care products as well as group instruction from a volunteer licensed cosmetologist in makeup techniques, skin care and nail care. This program is offered through a partnership of the American Cancer Society, the Personal Care Products Council and the National Cosmetology Association.
All About Baby
All About Baby is a two hour class for new parents. It teaches parents what they need to know about baby care, diapers, bath, play, sleep, safety and normal growth and development.
Baby & Me for Siblings-to-Be
This class helps children between the ages of two-and-a-half and eight feel special about their new role and teaches parents how to prepare children for the new arrival. A certified childbirth instructor will discuss how babies look and behave, proper holding and handling of an infant, diapering etc.
This class is designed for pre-teens, ages 9-13, and is offered to improve critical thinking skills necessary in case of an emergency while babysitting. The purpose of the class is to equip the future babysitter with the skills necessary for them to offer safe and appropriate childcare. This includes physical and emotional interaction with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and older children.
Breastfeeding for Beginners
Our board-certified lactation consultant will help new parents understand the biological process of breast feeding and discuss how to get started, proper positioning, recognizing hunger signals, frequency and volume of feedings, how to use a pump, and preparation for your return to work.
A class for first time parents to be taken within the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. Topics include the pregnancy process, female anatomy and physiology, fetal development, good health habits, proper nutrition, healthy weight gain, proper rest and exercise.
Grand parenting 101
Parenting styles change from generation to generation. This class can help you avoid unwanted tension through a review of current guidelines for infant care, communication between parents and grandparents, and the changing roles of grandparents.
This class is for expectant parents who already have children but would like to review the basics of childbirth preparation. A certified childbirth instructor covers labor, relaxation, and Lamaze breathing, differences in labor experiences, and sibling preparation.
This class will prepare you and your partner for the various stages of pregnancy, labor and delivery, breathing and relaxation techniques, pain management, including epidural anesthesia and natural methods, and postpartum care for mom and baby.
TotSaver Infant Safety & CPR
A certified CPR instructor will cover CPR and life-saving skills, as well as how to “baby-proof” your home, proper car seat installation and use, household safety, and poison prevention. This course provides you and your family with skills that can turn a life-threatening situation into a life-saving one.
Weight-Loss Surgery Seminars
Free weight-loss seminars are held several times each month for those considering weight-loss surgery. Support groups and classes are also offered to those who have already undergone weight-loss surgery.
Medication Management Program
A Medication Management Program is available through the Griffin Hospital Community Outreach and Parish Nurse Program. In her role as medication nurse, Mary Swansiger, BSN, MPH, conducts individual medication assessments, provides counseling & education at senior centers and throughout the community and offers telephone follow-up with program participants.
Parkinson’s Support Group
GRASP – Griffin Associated Support Group for People with Parkinson’s – includes a support group and an exercise group. The monthly support group meetings include discussions of various topics related to Parkinson’s disease for people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers. Biweekly exercise sessions for support group participants are lead by a Physical Therapist and/or Occupational Therapist. In order to join, participants must have consent from their doctor, and must pass the screening process to determine eligibility to participate in the group.
Skill Training Workshops
Meetings and workshops are offered to the community and to healthcare professionals to learn or enhance their skills. Reiki, Soft Touch, and Therapeutic Touch are some of the usual offerings. Workshops are held periodically throughout the year.
Griffin Hospital Community Health Resource Center - In addition to providing an array of outreach services in the community, Griffin also makes extensive healthcare information resources available to the public on the main campus. The hospital’s Health Resource Center, which houses one of the largest collections of consumer health information in the country, has nearly 15,000 users each year. The HRC is an easy-to-use, comprehensive, and up-to-date source of medical information, much of which is not available in public libraries. Staff assists visitors in researching medical conditions and treatment options and encouraging individuals to take an active role in decisions affecting their care and well being. The HRC is a component of the Planetree care model and a commitment of Planetree hospitals, including Griffin, to empower people by providing information and education.
The HRC adjoins Griffin’s extensive medical library, which is used primarily by physicians and other healthcare professionals, but is also open to laypersons seeking more in-depth medical information. The HRC staff can also access computer databases that provide comprehensive indexing and abstracts of articles that appear in health-related periodicals, and journals. The HRC also has multiple private databases not available on the Internet, and has added MD Consult and Nursing Consult, leading sources of online healthcare information, with resources available in Spanish and other languages.
The HRC also features a children’s section with a variety of health-oriented books, a special section on bereavement issues, audio cassette programs, videos, and a private video viewing room.
The Health Resource Center is an especially important community service for low-income residents who may have limited or no home access to computers, and is a significant resource for area students researching health topics for school. The HRC offers free library cards, distributing more than 10,000 in the community since it opened in 1995, and has two satellite resource centers located adjacent to inpatient nursing units available for patient and visitor use as well as two additional resource centers, one located at the Center for Cancer Care and one located at the Griffin Hospital Imaging and Diagnostic Center at Ivy Brook.
Healthy U Program/Mini-Med School – Today’s health consumer is bombarded with reports about the latest medical breakthroughs, promises about how technology will transform patient treatments, and direct-to-consumer promotions for medications and other medical products. In response to this phenomenon, Griffin Hospital developed its “Healthy U” (short for “Healthy University”) program, which is comprised of regular scheduled “Tuesday Talks” educational offerings at the hospital and community sites that includes topics such as:
Healthy U programs are free and open to the public, and feature Griffin Hospital medical experts and community partners who provide trusted health information and answers to questions.
Griffin also offers a Mini-Med School program each fall. Founded in 2006 by two leaders of its medical staff, Griffin’s Mini Med School program is open to residents of Griffin Hospital’s service area and beyond, with students seeking out the program because there are no other comparable programs offered in the state. The free 10-week program is designed for a general audience ranging from adolescents interested in pursuing healthcare careers to senior citizens seeking information on how to live longer, healthier lives. The 10 weekly evening sessions, which are divided into two one-hour physician presentations, with a break for refreshments, provide a basic understanding of human anatomy and the pathology of various diseases. The course is comprehensive and the knowledge base is cumulative, so those participants who attend all sessions will gain the most benefit. All participants learn about strategies for disease prevention, with physician presenters stressing a number of common themes, such as the harmful effects of smoking, the importance of regular health screenings, and the impact of lifestyle choices on overall health. The presentations follow a common template, and copies of the PowerPoint handouts are distributed each week for note taking.
A variety of pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers have provided financial support, which has helped defray program costs which include the binders provided at the first session, weekly PowerPoint handouts, and t-shirts and certificates awarded at the “graduation” ceremony. The hospital covers the cost of refreshments (about $200 per week), as well as the purchase of medical dictionaries, reference books, and more lighthearted prizes, such as the game “Operation” and toy doctor kits, which are raffled off at graduation. While there is no charge to attend, the Mini Med School is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. The hospital promotes the program each fall, and usually reaches the 100 student enrollment limit with a waiting list for the next session. More than 600 community members have completed the program, with some moving on to complete a Mini Medical Residency program, offered in the spring of 2009, with another session planned in the next year.
To replicate the Mini Med School program, hospitals must have little more than a commitment to community health education, meeting space with audio-visual capabilities, and physicians and staff members willing to share their time and expertise. As such, the Mini Med School template has been replicated by other Planetree Hospitals around the country, and was the topic of a Planetree Conference presentation in 2007.
While community benefit is clear, the hospital and its physicians also benefit from the goodwill the program engenders. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with both the individual physician presentations and the overall program evaluation generating favorable reviews from participants. Each session provides multiple opportunities for exposure to a large number of potential new patients, with about a third of each session’s participants new to Griffin and nearly half traveling from outside the hospital’s primary service area to attend. With word of mouth such a powerful factor in healthcare decision making, the Healthy U “Tuesday Talks” and Mini-Med School have become an important part of both the hospital’s health empowerment and community benefit programs.