It was announced that CHCB won the “Community Impact” Award through the Lake Champlain Chamber at their Annual Dinner! This award is presented to an organization that has demonstrated consistent, meaningful impact in our community, which we at CHCB strive to do every day. We are honored to be recognized for this award and look forward to continuing to care for our community.
Meet Our New Medical and Dental Providers
We’re excited to welcome Dr. Tyler O’Bryan, Liz Nowalk, FNP, Nicole Fortune, RDH, MBA and Ann-Marie Bergeron, RDH, AS to CHCB!
Dr. O’Bryan is board certified in family medicine. He completed his dual undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry (B.Sc.) and Cultural Anthropology (B.A.). He earned his medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine with a focus on global health and earned his residency program across Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, New York. While originally from Canada, he has relocated to Vermont and made it his home. Tyler’s practice interests include infectious disease management, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), global health, and helping his patients achieve their own health goals. Outside of work, he enjoys family time, cooking and entertaining with his wife, running with his dog, both Nordic and alpine skiing, training for triathlons, and like any good Canadian he also loves hockey. Dr. O’Bryan is accepting new patients at Winooski Family Health.
Liz graduated with her Masters of Science and Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Binghamton University in 2019. She has been a registered nurse since 2009, working primarily in an emergency room in New York, and then in a Medical ICU. She moved to Burlington in 2022, and has been enjoying the people and scenery that Vermont has to offer. In her free time she enjoys reading, hiking and playing with her kids. She is accepting new patients at our Riverside Health Center.
Nicole is a native Vermonter and Registered Dental Hygienist. She is a nationally recognized expert in training dental hygienists in areas of periodontics, including dental endoscopy, laser-assisted hygiene care and the treatment of dental implants. Nicole holds many certifications including CO2, Diode and Nd:Yag laser certification from the Academy of Laser Dentistry. She is a clinical expert and speaker for the Facial Art Forum and an integral part of the Implant Care Practitioner training program through RDH Innovations. She is a Dental Codeology key opinion leader and is directly involved with creation of new dental codes. She was awarded Dental Hygienist of the Year for 2017 in Vermont. Nicole also works in professional relations for several specialty dental practices across the country. Nicole earned her hygiene degree and her BA from the University of Vermont. She also holds an MBA from Champlain College. She will be working with dental patients at our Riverside and South End locations.
Ann-Marie graduated from the University of Vermont. Her experience includes many aspects of dental practice and its management including chairside assisting, providing hygiene care and business administration/insurance/human resources/payroll. Before joining CHCB and returning to active dental practice, Ann-Marie was Business Administrator/Human Resource Director for an assisted living facility in Essex, VT for three years during the pandemic. Feeling strongly about access to patient-centered care, Ann-Marie is excited to be at CHCB and part of a solution! She will be working with dental patients at our Riverside and South End locations.
CHCB 50th Anniversary Recognized in Congressional Record
As part of CHCB’s 2021 Annual Meeting, Sen. Bernie Sanders honored our 50th Anniversary by contributing a statement in the Congressional Record. We recently received a framed plaque of this statement, which follows:
“Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the Community Health Centers of Burlington for 50 years of extraordinary service. Today, the Community Health Centers of Burlington—CHCB—is the second largest federally qualified health center—FQHC—in Vermont, serving over 30,000 patients at eight locations. Fifty years ago, when they opened their doors in 1971 as the People’s Free Clinic in a small storefront in Burlington’s Old North End, the center was run by volunteers and served just 50 patients each week. And while they have grown tremendously since those early days, CHCB has maintained a commitment to what the founders of the clinic at the time described as ‘‘a new kind of health care,’’ rooted in the understanding that people from all walks of life deserves high quality, affordable healthcare.
In 1989, CHCB was designated as a federal Healthcare for the Homeless site and, in 1993, officially became an FQHC. Becoming an FQHC meant CHCB was able to access important grants from the Federal Government, improvement reimbursement rate for care, and offer a sliding fee scale, so no one would be turned away because they could not afford the care they needed. But let me be clear: Health centers like CHCB are not exclusively for those who have nowhere else to go. For many people living in the Burlington area and across Vermont, community health centers like CHCB are the provider of choice because they provide timely access to high-quality care in community-centered clinics. In fact, today, approximately one-third of all CHCB patients are covered by private health insurance. Another reason that FQHCs are so popular and used by so many people in Vermont and across the country is that they also offer dental care. CHCB first added dental services into its main site in 2004, and today, 7000 patients receive dental care at one of three CHCB locations. Further, in addition to offering primary care and oral healthcare, FQHCs also offer mental
healthcare and substance use disorder treatment, as well as low-cost prescription drugs. It is clear why nearly one-in-three Vermonters rely on FQHCs like CHCB for their care.
In 2012, the Community Health Centers of Burlington was able to utilize funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to renovate its main location, known as the Riverside
Health Center, allowing for updated patient care rooms; laboratory space; dental operatories; and integrated psychiatry, counseling, and substance use disorder treatment. Understanding
that many Vermonters outside of the Burlington area struggled to access affordable care, CHCB established a rural practice in the Champlain Islands. The health center also expanded into
Winooski in 2017, in partnership with Winooski Family Health. But CHCB’s expansion is not simply about growing the number of locations. They have also continued to expand the services
offered, including ensuring they can offer culturally competent care to the growing New American community. Today, CHCB offers translation services to over 45 languages at their sites, making care not just affordable but understandable to all who need it.
The Community Health Centers of Burlington is an excellent example of why federally qualified health centers are so important. To my mind, there is no question that healthcare is a human right and health centers like CHCB play an enormously important role in making sure that no one is denied care because of their income. That is why I have continually fought to protect and expand Federal funding for community health centers throughout my time in Congress. I am proud that during the negotiations of the Affordable Care Act, I was successful in securing mandatory funding for these health centers, knowing that they would be better served by knowing that they could rely on funding for the Federal Government for years to come. I have continued to fight for funding for FHQCs during the response to the COVID–19 pandemic, knowing how critical they are to keeping patients healthy and connected to their communities during these extremely challenging times. I am grateful to all of my colleagues here in the Senate and in the House of Representatives who have joined me in this effort throughout the years.
To the staff of CHCB, I want to say that I know that your hard work and dedication is at the heart of CHCB’s success. I know it is not always easy to work in primary care, and I am grateful for your efforts. And to the patients who rely on CHCB each year, know that I am glad you have entrusted your care to them and that I will do everything in my power to ensure they are there to care for you for decades to come. And as you take time to celebrate your many successes over the past 50 years, I know you are also looking toward the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for the future. I look forward to continuing to work with you to tackle the challenges, like further expanding access and care, reducing costs, and recruiting and retaining a talented workforce dedicated to
primary care. I will also stand with you as you find new opportunities for success and growth. While the issues we face are enormous, I know that community health centers like CHCB are a key to solving them.
I sincerely congratulate the entire Community Health Centers of Burlington family on this momentous occasion and wish you another 50 years of delivering compassionate, professional,
and innovative healthcare services to your fellow Vermonters.”
Meet Our New Providers
Please join us in welcoming Blake McKnight, MSN, FNP-C and Julia Zdanowicz, PMHNP-BC to CHCB!
Blake is our newest medical provider. He was born and raised in Vermont, and graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then entered the health care field through a job collecting blood donations at the American Red Cross, which led to a desire to become a family nurse practitioner. He earned a BSN degree at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, then completed the family nurse practitioner program at UVM. Before coming to the Community Health Centers of Burlington, he worked for over four years at another local family practice, as well as a local college health center and two local urgent care clinics. Outside of work, Blake enjoys cooking, podcasts, music, reading, chess, and biking. His professional interests include diabetes management, primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, health screenings, urgent care, and the health benefits of a plant-based diet. He is currently accepting new patients at the South End Health Center.
Julia is our most recent psychiatric provider. She was born and raised in Chicago, IL and relocated to Vermont in 2021. She received a Bachelor’s of Science in Rehabilitative Services in 2002 and spent many years assisting adults with developmental disabilities and autism, as well directed unit operations for various Dementia Special Care Units in Chicago. She received her nursing degree from Morton College in 2013 and worked as an intensive care nurse for several years in a small community hospital. Julia received a Master’s of Science in Nursing in 2021 and became board certified as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The majority of her training was done at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL which has been ranked #1 in the state. Julia values collaborative care to be a support to her patients as they navigate their mental health goals to achieve symptom relief. Julia is located at our Riverside Health Center, and patients can be referred to her through their CHCB Primary Care Provider.
Dr. Michelle Dorwart on Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccination
For about the past month, Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines have been available for children as young as 5 years old. We know many parents have questions about vaccinating their young children against COVID-19. Dr. Michelle Dorwart, CHCB Maternal-Child Health Provider and member of the Vermont Chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics, has put together a short video as well as the following write-up to help address common areas of concern.
The Vermont Language Justice Project has also interpreted an informational video from UVM Medical Center’s Dr. Andrea Green about pediatric COVID vaccines in the following languages:
American Sign Language | العربية Arabic | မြန်မာစာ Burmese | Français French | Kirundi | नेपाली Nepali | Soomaali Somali | Español Spanish | Swahili | Tiếng Việt Vietnamese
Are the vaccines safe for children?
At this point, COVID-19 vaccines are among the most highly studied and scrutinized vaccines in history. There have been rare cases of significant side effects, but the vaccines have proven to be extremely safe and effective.
Over 3,000 5-11-year-olds participated in the Pfizer vaccine trial, and no serious side effects were reported. In the past month, nearly 3 million children ages 5-11 have been vaccinated in the US. So far, no serious side effects have been reported. (Not to mention the more than 4 billion people who have been vaccinated worldwide, including over 100 million people fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, of whom 12.6 million are 12-17 years old.)
The dose for children ages 5-11 is smaller than the dose for those ages 12 and older. This is because young children have robust immune systems and can make a great response with a smaller dose. Like older people, they should still receive a second dose 3 weeks after the first.
The dose for children ages 12 and older is the same as the adult dose; they should also receive a second dose 3 weeks after the first. We do not yet know whether children will require booster doses; however, booster doses are common for pediatric vaccines so that is possible.
Side effects for 5-11 year olds are similar to those seen for routine pediatric vaccination – fever, sore arm, body aches, headache. In adolescents and particularly adolescent males, there have been rare instances of myocarditis which is inflammation around the heart. These cases have generally been mild and treated with ibuprofen. Myocarditis and other serious side effects have not been reported in children ages 5-11 so far.
What about long-term side effects?
People often wonder about “long-term” side effects…but long-term side effects with respect to vaccines are really on the order of weeks to months. The vaccine enters our body, our body responds to it by making antibodies and then by processing and excreting the vaccine components. The antibodies (which were made by our body) are the only thing that remain.
Vaccines do not affect fertility. They do not alter DNA. They do not contain tracking devices or other implantable devices.
If COVID-19 causes mild illness in children, isn’t it better for them to get natural immunity by just getting infected?
While it’s true that most cases of COVID-19 in children are mild, the risks associated with an infection remain significantly higher than the risks associated with a COVID-19 vaccine.
We want people to get COVID-19 antibodies, and vaccines are the less risky way to get those antibodies.
If you’d like to get your child vaccinated, you can:
- Check out CHC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics and schedule an appointment!
- Come to a routine office visit with your child. We can give them (and you, if needed!) a shot when they are here!
Soon, we will have vaccine doses available for children ages 5-11. The supply will increase as the availability increases in the state.
Thank you for your time and attention! We’re always very happy to answer any other questions you have, so please don’t hesitate to ask.
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