Republican-American: ‘Health care a right, not a privilege’ – the story of Middletown center helping the underserved


Originally published on Republican-American

Charles Barber, a writer in residence at Wesleyan University and a lecturer in psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, has recently released “Peace & Health,” an unlikely story of a community activist in Middletown who strove to create free health care to his hometown.

“Peace & Health” depicts college dropout Mark Masselli’s journey to build the Community Health Center in Middletown. The organization opened with a single dentist chair and has subsequently grown to serve hundreds of thousands of previously underserved patients.

The book, published by Octoberworks, tells the story of how, in 1972, Middletown native Masselli fought to provide free health care to underserved populations, believing that “health care is a right not a privilege.”

Masselli now serves as president and CEO of Community Health Center, Connecticut’s largest provider of medical, dental and behavioral health care for the underserved. He founded CHC in 1972 with a group of community activists. According to its website, the center provides team-based primary care services to more than 150,000 patients at 200 sites across Connecticut.

During the pandemic, the center administered more than 500,000 vaccines, organized hundreds of mobile vaccination clinics and brought vaccines directly into the most vulnerable communities.

In 2022, he was appointed to the Connecticut Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Working Group. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Wesleyan University in 2009 for his work in the health care field.

Barber is also the author of “Songs from the Black Chair,” “Comfortably Numb,” “Citizen Outlaw” and the forthcoming “In the Blood.” He has written widely on mental health and criminal justice issues in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, The Nation and other media outlets.

“Peace & Health” is available in stores and online.