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State to take over Stamford WIC services

August 21, 2018

STAMFORD — The mayor’s office says the city will soon stop administering the Special Supplemental Nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children due to rising costs and lack of grant funding.

In October, OPTIMUS Health Care will take over the program, which provides at least 4,000 Stamford residents with nutrition counseling, food benefits and referrals during all stages of pregnancy and early child rearing. Funding for the program is provided by the state health department through a federal grant.

According to a statement from the mayor’s office, the city is relinquishing its WIC grant to the state, which has hired OPTIMUS.

Elizabeth Carlson, special assistant to Mayor David Martin, said OPTIMUS, southwestern Connecticut’s largest primary health care services provider, is better equipped to use the grant.

“They will, for the foreseeable future, be located within the health department at Government Center,” Carlson said. “People will come here for these services, they’ll just be done by people who work for OPTIMUS. The goal is to have a seamless transition.”

Ted Jankowski, director of health, public safety and welfare, said the city appealed to the state for more grant funding as it has in previous years but was denied.

“We believe OPTIMUS is an excellent health care provider,” he said. “We believe the services to the community will be very good.”

The city’s health department and OPTIMUS have previously worked together, according to the mayor’s office. Under the new arrangement, OPTIMUS will provide more programs to residents with expanded hours, the mayor’s office said.

“WIC services, the city was handling, but prenatal or after birth was handled by OPTIMUS,” Carlson said. “This brings it all into one.”

Jankowski said OPTIMUS has met with WIC city employees about applying for similar jobs with its company.

“I’m hopeful each employee will find continued employment with OPTIMUS,” Jankowski said. “The nutritionists and nutritionist aids have been very dedicated, ensuring that the needs of clients and the community were met.”

According to a statement from Ludwig Spinelli, CEO of OPTIMUS Health Care, combining these types of services has become common.

“There is a trend across the country in which prevention services are being carried out by health care service providers,” Spinelli said. “Combining WIC services with health care not only allows us to better treat our clients, but it also helps maximize scarce public dollars.”

erin.kayata@stamfordadvocate.com; (203) 964-2265; @erin_kayata

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