Matching Gift Campaign, Community Health Center in Hartford Renamed,
to Honor Retired Wheeler President and CEO, Susan Walkama, LCSW

The career and contributions of retired Wheeler President and Chief Executive Officer, Susan Walkama, LCSW, are being marked through a matching gift campaign to raise support for nutrition programming, and renaming the organization’s community health center in Hartford in the spring of 2020, the Board of Trustees recently announced.

Walkama retired on November 1 after nearly 40 years at Wheeler, including more than a dozen as president and chief executive officer. Sabrina Trocchi, PhD, MPA, was appointed president and chief executive officer, effective November 2.

Matching Gift Campaign

A matching gift campaign is raising support for Wheeler’s nutrition programming, which Walkama envisioned and implemented.

The anonymous gift pledge, from a longtime supporter and dedicated former Wheeler trustee, will match, dollar-for-dollar, gifts made in Walkama’s honor for the program, up to $25,000 in total, through December 31, 2019.

“Susan’s legacy is looking at health holistically, and you can see her influence in so many areas, from adding dental care, to expanding community health workers who connect patients to available programs and services,” says the donor. “It’s difficult to pick just one area to support in her honor, but nutrition is a perfect example of a program she championed that cuts across many elements of health and wellness.”

The nutrition program launched in 2018 with the opening of the Wheeler Family Health & Wellness Center in Hartford, and accelerated in the last year. An on-staff nutritionist serves on Wheeler’s integrated care team, assisting patients with diet, diabetes management, nutrition counseling, and more. In addition, a toddler nutrition program attracts patients and their families for interactive cooking demonstrations and lessons in healthier recipes, addressing food allergies, and related topics. Wheeler also works in partnership with Holcomb Farm of West Granby in their Fresh Access program, which provides two tons of farm-fresh vegetables a year to Wheeler patients, many of whom do not have access to affordable, accessible fresh produce near where they live.

Programs are held at the Corsini Kitchen, on the campus of the community health center, thanks to the philanthropic support of the Corsini and Brantner families. Raymond Corsini was Wheeler’s longest-serving trustee, and was passionate about food, gardening, cooking, and healthy diet.

To contribute to the matching gift campaign, please visit:  

Community Health Center in Hartford to be Renamed

Along with the giving campaign, the primary five-story building at Wheeler’s flagship community health center will be renamed the Susan Walkama Family Health & Wellness Center in the spring of 2020.

The building at 43 Woodland Street, Hartford, located at the Wheeler Family Health & Wellness Center campus at 43–49 Woodland Street, opened on January 8, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the organization, after a yearlong, $5-million renovation that dramatically redesigned the interior to match Wheeler’s philosophy of truly integrated health care services.

It houses the majority of services offered on the campus, including primary care and behavioral health, addiction treatment, dental care, specialty care like
OB-GYN, chiropractic, and complementary and alternative medicine, a full-service pharmacy and laboratory, and much more. Nearly 200 staff work at the center across a range of disciplines and specialties.

“Susan’s vision made Woodland Street a reality. When we considered appropriate ways to commemorate her legacy, this seemed not only appropriate—but exactly right,” said James Moylan of Bristol, Wheeler’s incoming Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “Her focus on transforming Wheeler to provide whole-person health care is realized at all of our Family Health & Wellness Centers, and in every program, across the state. Susan’s legacy are the lives changed and made healthier by her focus on everyone we serve at every location.”

The center is currently undergoing extensive renovation, thanks to the state’s Nonprofit Grant Program, which is increasing site safety, access to services, and efficiencies for the campus. Because of the construction, the official naming ceremony will occur this spring when renovations are complete.

“Susan dramatically changed Wheeler in her time as president and CEO, leading the organization to become a federally qualified health center and opening four centers in Bristol, Hartford, New Britain, and Waterbury,” said Dr. Trocchi.  “She refocused care on the integration of all health care services by multidisciplinary teams, working side-by-side, to ensure that the needs of the ‘whole patient’ are addressed.”

“Together, with my 1,000 colleagues, past and present, we poured so much work, love, and sweat into getting Wheeler where we are today,” Walkama said. “When I learned 43 Woodland Street would be named for me, I had no words to express how touched I was. It represents the vision that so many of us shared and I feel so very privileged to have been a part of it.”

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