DANBURY, Conn. — Not everyone starts off their birthday with the governor prompting a crowd to sing "Happy Birthday," but that's what Dr. Kristine Lisi experienced Monday at the dedication and-ribbon cutting for a new health center on the site of the old police station at 120 Main St. in Danbury.
The crowd spilled out into the parking lot from the tent set up for the event. Gov. Dannel Malloy wrapped up his remarks by calling Lisi forward. As she made her way inside the tent, he told the crowd that she recently began in her role as medical director at the Connecticut Institute for Communities' Greater Danbury Community Health Center and that her birthday is Oct. 31.
Before getting the crowd to sing, Malloy spoke of the need for healthcare to be more community-centered, and for care to be provided closer to home and by healthcare providers they know.
Also, Frank Muska, board chairman for CIFC, introduced the Rev. Gregg Mecca, pastor of neighboring St. Peter's Church, to give the invocation.
James Maloney, CIFC's president and CEO, said Mecca's parish is among the many partners who helped bring the project to fruition. The parish has allowed the GDCHC staff to use its parking lot on Center Street, right across the street.
"Father Mecca is our landlord," Maloney said. He went on to say that a third of the funding for the project came from a $4 million state grant, a third was federal money via the New Market Tax Credit and a third was raised from private donations.
The 37,000-square-foot, four-story, red-brick structure will house the health center’s pediatric and adolescent medical and behavioral health services; comprehensive women’s health services; an on-site phlebotomy suite; a full-service pharmacy; and administrative offices for both the Health Center and the Institute.
In December, the pediatric and women's services will be relocated to the new building. At that point, the facility at 70 Main St. formerly known as Danbury Hospital Seifert & Ford Clinic, now referred to as “GDCHC Health Center -- South,” will be dedicated primarily to adult medicine and family dentistry.
"These expanded services will be very beneficial additions to community healthcare in Danbury. We are delighted to be able to place this new building into service," Maloney said.
The contingent of speakers also included U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who congratulated CIFC on the new facility.
"For community-based partnerships, Danbury is leading the way. Good health starts at home. We talk about healthcare as if we want more of it," Esty said. "What we really want more of is health."
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton shared two anecdotes about the new health center. When Maloney first spoke with him about plans for the property, Boughton said that he looked at him and asked, "Do you know how much money you'll need, how will you get it?"
Then Boughton turned to the crowd and said, "Why/d I ever ask him that? Maloney gets things done!"
Boughton then told of Malloy coming to march in Danbury's Memorial Day Parade after the old police station had been torn down but before the construction had begun.
As they approached the site on Main Street, Boughton said he tried to direct the governor's gaze away from the lot, but was not successful. He recalled the governor pointing over to the site and asking, "What's going on over there? Didn't I give you money for that?" At that point, Boughton said he told the governor, "That's Jim Maloney, you gotta talk to him about that."
After the chuckles died down and Maloney closed the scheduled program of remarks, the officials gathered for two ribbon cuttings, one at the back entrance of the building and one at the Main Street entrance.
The Greater Danbury Community Health Center, a federally qualified health center, serves all people regardless of income or insurance; no one is ever turned away.
The new building will bring 60 new jobs to downtown Danbury.