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HHC Colleagues Care for 2,400 Through Medical Mission

November 10, 2023

By the time Maria left Norwich Free Academy, she carried a bag filled with winter boots, a warm black coat, gloves, information on assistance for her aging parents, a Narcan kit and a box lunch.

Perhaps more importantly to her – because moms always worry more about their children – her 19-year-old son saw a doctor about pain in his jaw, picked out reader glasses to help until he sees an eye doctor, and talked with someone about getting his own health insurance.

“This was just amazing. I can’t believe all that you’ve done for us,” the petite dark-haired woman said softly. “I can’t thank you enough.”

Similar scenes played out across Connecticut as Hartford HealthCare hosted its first system-wide Medical Mission on Saturday, November 4. At six locations, more than 2,000 colleagues and healthcare providers welcomed about 2,400 residents of all ages.

The free services provided – augmented by support from various community-based programs at each Mission location – were medical, spiritual, financial and just plain kind. Along with vaccines and bloodwork, haircuts were available, as were gentle foot washings and behavioral health consultations.

“This is our purpose – connecting with people,” says Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeffrey Flaks. “Our mission is to ensure that no person is left behind, no community is left behind. This is a new way to meet people where they are.”

In a few cases, visits to Medical Mission sites uncovered severe medical issues requiring follow up, including a person sent by ambulance for emergency surgery to address aortic stenosis and women whose mammograms uncovered advanced breast cancer.

“These are times we can intervene and help them more,” Flaks says, adding that, “this is a labor of love. It’s beyond moving.”

In the Hartford location, Hartford Hospital President Bimal Patel was equally impressed with how Mission volunteers met acute and long-term health needs.

“Our efforts demonstrate by example that we can come together and serve our community. It takes a village,” he says.

Medical Mission started at St. Vincent’s Medical Center nine years ago and continued at their Bridgeport location after they joined Hartford HealthCare in 2019. This was the first time the system expanded the project to all its hospitals and regions.

“We’re committed to health equity and bringing our experts where they are needed most,” says Michael J. Daglio, HHC executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Taking Medical Mission system-wide will not only help more neighbors in need across the state, it gives more colleagues the opportunity to be part of this truly inspiring experience.”