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Norwalk Hospital’s psychiatric outreach program wins community service award

(left to right): Christopher O’Connor, chairman, CHA Board of Trustees; commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD; Staci Peete, director of community engagement, Norwalk Hospital; Ariel Simantov, MD, psychiatry resident, Norwalk Hospital. (Contributed photo)

Norwalk Hospital’s Community Psychiatric Outreach Program has received the 2024 Connecticut Hospital Community Service Award from the Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) and the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) at the annual CHA meeting. 

Under the Outreach Program, third-year psychiatry residents venture out and engage at-risk citizens on the streets, in shelters or homes, and in local nonprofit organization offices. Supervised by an attending psychiatrist, the residents provide five hours per week of free psychiatric assessments, arrange referrals, and help homeless individuals complete the disability verification forms needed to qualify for housing. The psychiatric residents often see the patients on an ongoing basis if warranted by otherwise long wait times for mental health treatment.

A hospital staffer accepts service requests and coordinates the community visits. Since its 2022 inception, the program has assessed approximately 50 patients.

According to a news release, DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD said, “Our mission is to protect and improve the health and safety of the people of Connecticut which is a basic human right and a priority of the state. Thank you to Norwalk Hospital for addressing these two community needs. Access to care and mental health services are top priorities for not only every hospital in Connecticut, but every hospital in the country. Norwalk Hospital is making positive inroads, especially with some of our most vulnerable populations in southern Connecticut. By meeting the homeless population directly in the community, this program removes one additional barrier to care.”

CHA CEO Jennifer Jackson said, “CHA is honored to be joined by DPH in presenting this award in recognition of Norwalk Hospital’s Community Psychiatric Outreach Program, which provides psychiatric care to at-risk populations including the homeless, meeting individuals in their communities, and removing barriers to care. We applaud the Norwalk Hospital team for working to improve access to care and implement a forward-thinking approach to address behavioral health needs by meeting individuals where they are to improve health outcomes.”

Norwalk Hospital President Peter Cordeau said, “I am very proud of this team who are so devoted to caring for those struggling in our communities and helping them find a healthier and more stable path forward. This recognition highlights how our population, health professionals and the community care teams are collaborating in new ways to innovate and evolve to meet the needs of our communities.” 

Watch the award recognition video at 2024 Connecticut’s Hospital Community Service Award: Norwalk Hospital (youtube.com)

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