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Dear ChesPenn Friends,

Can you believe ChesPenn has had its doors open for 50 years?

I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun!

Time is also our most valuable asset, and we often take it for granted. When was the last time you told someone how much you appreciate them? I want to let you in on a little secret: WE could not have made it this far without YOU. Who’s “You”? Our wonderful staff, funders, volunteer board, and supporters.  You need to know that, and you need to hear that from me…because there would be no ChesPenn without any of you. Through all the trials and triumphs – WE are because of YOU.

It all began in 1973 with Dr. Barr approaching Dr. Rekha Yagnik with the opportunity to provide health care services to the underserved children of Chester PA. On her first day, working in a double wide trailer on the corner of 7th and Tilghman Street in Chester along with just one nurse and a receptionist, Dr. Yagnik saw 11 pediatric patients.

From what started in a double wide trailer we are now a network of three community health centers: two in Delaware County, and one in Chester County, that provides care for over 14,000 patients per year. In addition, we partner with Crozer/Prospect Health to provide OB/GYN, and Family Medicine residency programs, training the next generation of health care providers.

We continue to explore new ways to meet the complex needs of the communities we serve, including expanding access to behavioral health, improving birth outcomes, and developing additional dental services. We are building alliances and with neighboring colleges, universities, and technology schools so we can increase pathways into public health, and foster training opportunities for staff, we want to invest in our most important asset – our staff and training the next generation of healthcare workers. We are looking for opportunities to build on our relationships with civic leaders, and connecting with community philanthropists in support of building a healthier and stronger society for no one does anything alone.

I want to say “thank you.” To the ones who helped get ChesPenn off the ground 50 years ago, the current staff who allow us to still serve our community today with professionalism and compassion, and to our donors who have generously supported us and continue to support us in our efforts to be an accessible integrated health care resource to our local communities.

I can picture Dr. Yagnik smiling from ea r to ear, knowing that her “pride and joy” – her humble little clinic – has reached its 50th milestone year. WE are because of YOU.

Cheers to 50 more years!!

Susan Harris McGovern

President and CEO

Community health centers are busy, complex places with a lot of moving parts.  The staff at the front desk verify patient insurances and check patients in.  Medical and dental assistants, nurses, and other support staff take vitals and prepare patients to see their physician, dentist, or other healthcare provider.  Health educators and social workers assist patients in meeting some of the challenges that can interfere with their ability to care for themselves or their families.  All of those services are made possible by yet another group of employees working behind the scenes making sure the organization runs smoothly, that we meet our quality goals, and that we follow all of the regulations required by agencies that oversee our work.

David Ruvolo, ChesPenn’s new Compliance Officer, is charged with managing the extensive body of regulations that cover safety, privacy, human resources, and our status as a Federally Qualified Health Center.  “Compliance isn’t really something that you go to school for,” David shared recently.  “Compliance finds you – you start to realize what you really enjoy the work.   When I first started down this path, I was actually the financial lead and a project controller at an advertising agency for their largest client.  What really intrigued me was doing all the reading of the contracts, the scope of work, the policies.  Over time, I found that I really had a knack for it.”

David’s father was an English teacher and instilled a lifelong love of English in his son.  David himself taught English for a year in South Korea before launching his career in compliance.  His love of language became an asset in his compliance work.  “Like my dad, I was really good at picking out different things and finding solutions through verbal contracts and policies.”   He has handled contracts and compliance for several healthcare-related companies.

David Ruvolo (left) with Mike Barnard, Performance Improvement Coordinator

David sees his experience as a teacher as valuable preparation for serving as a compliance officer.  “A lot of what you’re doing is really education.  It’s not just reading this contract and telling you that I see some issues – it’s really communicating to the staff all the time what we need to be doing and why. I’m very excited to start working more closely with the staff.  I want to wash away the idea that compliance is a scary thing.”

After working in the for-profit sector, David is excited to be working for a community health center.  His mom worked with children ages 3 to 5 who had special needs, which he describes as “a work of love and joy.”  He sees serving at ChesPenn as his own opportunity to do work for underserved communities.  “It makes you want to get up in the morning because you see the difference it makes.”


The Centers for Disease Control recently released a preliminary report on the suicide rate in 2022.  Sadly, suicide appears to have increased for the second year in a row after slight declines in 2019 and 2020, rising from 48,183 deaths in 2021 to an estimated 49,449 deaths in 2022, an increase of approximately 2.6% and the highest rate on record.

Even more disturbing is the longer-term increase among minority populations.  The suicide rate among Black people increased by 19.2% between 2018 and 2021, from 7.3 to 8.7 per 100,000, and it climbed most quickly among Black people ages 10 to 24, at 36.6%.  People of color across race and ethnicity are all at higher risk and are seeing increasing rates.  Other groups at higher risk include veterans, people who live in rural areas, sexual and gender minorities, and middle-aged adults.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and the ideal time to focus on how we can work to change those statistics.  The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline suggest 5 steps to help safeguard people from the risk of suicide and support them when in crisis:

  1. Ask: Asking and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.
  2. Help keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to lethal means is an important part of suicide prevention.
  3. Be there: Increasing someone’s connectedness to others and limiting their isolation has shown to be a protective factor against suicide.
  4. Help them connect: Individuals who called the 988 Lifeline were significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful by the end of calls.
  5. Follow up: After you’ve connected a person experiencing thoughts of suicide with the immediate support systems that they need, following up with them to see how they’re doing can help increase their feelings of connectedness and support. There’s evidence that even a simple form of reaching out can potentially reduce that person’s risk for suicide.

In addition to the 988 Lifeline, Chester and Delaware Counties offer resources for anyone struggling with a mental health crisis and for those who love them.  In Chester County, NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has launched a new chapter.  Both Chester and Delaware County have Suicide Prevention Task Forces that offer training in suicide awareness and intervention, support groups, and other resources to raise awareness and provide support. Chester County also has a new mental health crisis response system including 24/7 telephone counseling, mobile outreach, and short-term voluntary residential care.

Local resources can be contacted here:

Chester County Suicide Prevention Task Force:

NAMI Chester County:

Chester County Mental Health Crisis Response:

Delaware County Suicide Prevention Task Force:


August is National Immunization Awareness Month.  We often think first of children’s vaccinations, especially as they are preparing to return to school in September.  However, it’s just as important to remember that adults need to keep up with their immunizations as well.

Vaccinations are critical components of routine healthcare for adults. They provide protection against severe illness, disability, and death from 15 different infectious diseases including influenza, pneumonia, whooping cough, shingles, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, HPV-related cancers, tetanus, RSV and COVID-19.

The unfortunate reality is that the majority of adults in the United States are missing routine vaccinations.  The CDC reports that as of 2019, fewer than 45% of the adult population had received all age-appropriate vaccinations.

ChesPenn’s Physician Assistant Chelsea Spiegelhalder notes that two important immunizations often overlooked by adults are pneumococcal (pneumonia) and “Tdap” or tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines.  She points out that adults with respiratory problems and older adults are particularly vulnerable to pneumonia, which can become life threatening.  Puncture wounds, especially when they occur outdoors where soil and other contaminants can enter the wound, raise the possibility of contracting tetanus.  Diphtheria and whooping cough are rare today, thanks to routine vaccinations, but outbreaks of whooping cough in particular do occur in institutional settings such as schools and both diseases can be deadly.

The new shingles vaccine is much more effective than the original, so if you’ve hesitated, now is the time to get protected.  Shingles is extremely painful and can potentially cause serious complications, including pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness and pneumonia.  And the Hepatitis A and B vaccines can prevent debilitating illness, liver damage and even death in some patients.

For more information on the importance of adult immunizations and which vaccines you might need go to
Getting vaccinated protects you and protects those you love.

Olivia (Liv) Juliano joined ChesPenn on March 27 as our Coatesville Office Manager. She had previously served as Office Manager in a plastic surgery practice.  Liv found the Office Manager posting on Indeed and checked out our website. She was impressed by what she saw and reached out for an interview. Liv was looking for a position that was fulfilling, not only building her career but helping people who needed care.

Liv recently reflected on the experience of caring for patients in a community health setting.As Office manager, she sees her role as essentially ensuring that the day runs smoothly so that patients have a pleasant experience and staff can meet patients with a smile. She is available to staff to assist with questions about patient registration and payment issues such as discount eligibility and insurance coverage and can also respond to patient questions or concerns. She also ensures that the physical facility is in good condition and operating smoothly.

Liv has observed that ChesPenn’s discount policy for uninsured patients makes healthcare possible for many people who otherwise would go without.  Many of ChesPenn’s patients have incomes that fall below the federal poverty level and approximately 12% are unable to qualify for medical assistance.  However, the minimal fee for a visit makes our care easily accessible.  Even patients with medical assistance often struggle to find healthcare providers who will accept their insurance.  These patients can come to ChesPenn without worry about going into debt in order to get care.

“It’s important for members of the community to come to ChesPenn,” Liv explained, “because we can offer services that aren’t available in a private practice.”  Social services coordinators can link patients to resources like food, housing, and home health equipment.  Our Community Health Educator helps with smoking cessation, diabetes, and obesity.  And we’re a one stop shop – the whole family can come here for medical, dental and mental healthcare.  “A private practice might send patients elsewhere to get the services that are all available here.

“Most of the people we see are stressed about their daily lives, not necessarily their health.  We get to help with all of that.  They might have a disability or need transportation and need help getting benefits.  We can help them fill out forms and tell them how to access the support they need.”

This highly coordinated care is possible because of the team culture in our offices.  “The staff here makes my job easier than it could be,” Live shared.  “They go the extra mile – staying late and going beyond their realm of responsibility to make sure everybody’s taken care of.  They also take care of each other.  If someone’s overwhelmed, they do what they can to help.  No problem is too big to solve.”

Liv has enjoyed seeing patients create bonds with the staff.  One patient in particular that stands out for her is a gentleman who was consistently unhappy when he first came in for care.  Over the past few months, she has seen him become more positive, as he became confident that the staff cared about his wellbeing.  “I think other places might not offer the combination of emotional support and healthcare.  It’s really nice that we’ve seen him grow as a person.”

Olivia Juliano and Patient Service Representative Lydia Martinez-Melendez

When she’s not at ChesPenn, Liv loves to read and hike with her beagle-blue heeler mix.  She hopes to build a career in community health and eventually grow into a leadership role.  She sees ChesPenn as a bit of a hidden gem in western Chester County and hopes to help increase awareness in the community of our presence and the quality of care we offer.

National Health Center Week kicks off on August 6.  This year’s theme is “The Road Map to a Stronger America.”  If that sounds like a big claim it may be because few people really understand the contributions community health centers make to the physical and economic wellbeing of Americans.

The first community health centers (CHCs) were launched in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson’s Office of Economic Development.  They were rooted in both the civil rights movement and the “War on Poverty” and were conceived as vehicles for changing the health and lives of residents of the communities they served.

Today, over 1,400 of these healthcare organizations provide exceptional healthcare and additional services to approximately 30 million Americans – roughly 10% of the total population – regardless of their ability to pay.  CHCs reduce waste and excess healthcare costs, primarily by preventing unnecessary emergency and inpatient admissions, saving the healthcare sector over $24 billion annually according to the National Association of Community Health Centers.

CHCs (also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers because of their rigorous regulation by the Federal Health Resources and Services Association) are not only rooted in the community but governed by the community.  At least half the members of each CHC’s Board of Directors are patients at the center.  Local advisory committees often provide additional feedback to CHC leadership on community needs. CHCs are innovative, often pioneering new concepts in primary care.  They offer highly integrated services under one roof.  At CHCs, medical, dental, and behavioral health providers are available in one location and work together in teams to ensure the wellbeing of their patients.  Health educators and social services professionals support their work by helping patients overcome the social barriers to achieving their optimal health.

The roadmap theme is especially meaningful to us at ChesPenn this year.  As we celebrate 50 years of continual growth in caring for our community, we are also charting the path to a future of cutting-edge, whole-person care for residents of Chester and Delaware Counties.  We are launching a strategic planning process and will be seeking input from the community to help us set our course.  We look forward to sharing our plans and hopes in the coming months.

Dr. Dickson, center, with her preceptor, Dr. Ashu Singh, left, and Dr. William Warning, Program Director

On June 30th we gathered to celebrate the graduation of the Crozer Health Family Medicine Residency Program’s  3rd year residents.  Crozer’s Family Medicine residents and faculty provide all patient care at our Center for Family Health at Upper Darby.  We’re excited to share that one of the graduates, Dr. Kelly Dickson, will join the Crozer faculty at Upper Darby after graduation.

Dr. Dickson majored in psychology and worked in a research lab after graduation.  She saw residents engaged in direct patient care and wanted to find a way to combine the two, so she enrolled in biomedical sciences at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.  She was introduced to primary care early in her training at PCOM.  She realized as a family medicine physician she could see expectant moms, children, adults, and seniors.  The idea of providing a continuity of care and of caring for whole families appealed to her.

Dr. Dickson describes her residency at Crozer as a great educational experience.  “As an intern you’re just learning, soaking up as much as, you can.  By 3rd year, you’re more independent, seeing more patients, providing inpatient care, and teaching interns and med students.”  She excelled as a resident and was named one of two Chief Residents in her third year.

Teaching is one of Dr. Dickson’s interests.  She developed a five-week curriculum with preceptor Dr. Ashu Singh on managing hypertension and diabetes.  She also won the Resident Quality Improvement Award and is looking forward to refining the course in the coming year.

A native of Columbia, Maryland, Dr. Dickson has come to love Philadelphia.  She especially enjoys the great walking and running trails.  Her two younger brothers also moved to Philadelphia for medical school.

ChesPenn is proud to partner with Crozer Health’s Family Medicine Residency Program.  Together we are nurturing the next generation of family medicine physicians and ensuring their engagement in community health.  We are excited to have Dr. Dickson join the Crozer preceptors at Upper Darby, coaching the next cohort of residents and caring for our



Dr. Dickson with her family
Dr. Dickson and fellow graduates Dr. Samantha DiAngelo, Dr. Meghan McDonald, Dr. Wesley Huang,, Dr. Joseph Panzera, and Dr. Gerald Orlando



This month we celebrated Juneteenth in remembrance of the arrival of Union troops in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, 900 days after the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1.  This is considered the day when ALL enslaved black people in the United States officially became free.

158 years later, we are still working toward true freedom for members of the black community.  So much has changed, but important disparities, including freedom from poor health, still demand our passion and commitment.  On the weekend before Juneteenth, we joined Health Educated at the Tie One On Bike/Walk at Subaru Park and spent the afternoon at the City of Chester’s Juneteenth Celebration at Memorial Park.

Check out the images below:








On Friday, June 9, we celebrated the life and legacy of our founding Medical Director, Dr. Rekha Yagnik, by dedicating the building housing the Center for Family Health at Eastside in her memory.  Community leaders, including Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, State Representative Carol Kazeem, and U. S. Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, paid tribute to her contributions to the health of Delaware and Chester County families.  Dr. Yagnik’s family and friends were also on hand and her son, Dr. Gautham Yagnik, shared moving memories of his mother and her devotion to ChesPenn, which the family often called her “third child.”

Several other guests also shared their memories of Dr. Yagnik.  ChesPenn CEO Susan Harris McGovern captured the spirit of the day in her comments, “Those of us who were blessed to have had the honor to know and work alongside her felt the genuine love and respect she held for everyone.  When you were in her presence, she made you want to be a better person. She saw no color, gender, race, or ethnicity.  Who knew she was the true display of DEI before it became a formal policy for institutions to follow. Dr. Yagnik loved life, her family, friends, acquaintances, being of service to others, and removing barriers. She was dedicated to ensuring quality, and respectful health care was accessible to all.”

The newly named Rekha Yagnik Memorial Building stands as a visible tribute to her vision for true health equity.


Please click on the image below to scroll through the gallery.


Unveiling Web
Yagnik Family Web
Mayor Kirkland Proclamation web
Proclamation Presentation Web
Gautam Yagnik web
Carol Kazeem web
ChesPenn Building Dedication - JLy +SHM web
Bd Dr Y & Dignitaries web
Frances & Karen V web
Staff 1 web
Staff and Friends web

Left to right: Judy Kinman, Julie Mayer, Carol Briselli, John Greenstine, Dr. Kai Turner, Susan Harris McGovern, Dr. Ashley Henderson

In February we reported on the wonderful Better Start for Babies Program initiated by our friends at Congregation Beth Israel. We’ve been excited about this program since its inception in 2021 and now it’s getting attention from local foundations. Dr. Ashley Henderson (pictured far right with Congregation Beth Israel volunteers and ChesPenn staff), a Crozer pediatrician who works at our Center for Family Health at Eastside, has been awarded the prestigious 2023 Mary DeWitt Pettit, MD Fellowship by Drexel University to study the positive mental health benefit to new moms of receiving our Baby Bundles.

At almost the same time, the Social Action Committee of Congregation Beth Israel, located in Media, successfully applied for a grant from the Foundation for Delaware County to help underwrite its “A Better Start for Babies” in its 2023-2024 drive. We reached our goal of 30 bags in our first year, 75 in the second, and attained our “stretch goal” of 150 bags of baby essentials in this past year. With the help of the grant, our goal for next year is 180 bags. This is hoped to be enough to provide a gift bag for each mother cared for each year at ChesPenn in Chester. The grant also noted that Beth Israel collaborated with neighboring synagogues Ohev Shalom in Wallingford and Beth El-Ner Tamid in Broomall, giving a strong, cross-county basis of support for the program going forward.



“We are thrilled to get these bags to every new mother at ChesPenn who needs one. With the grant, we hope to grow to help even more moms and babies.” –John Greenstine, chairperson, Beth Israel Social Action Committee.


Center for Family Health at Eastside
125 E. 9th Street
Chester PA, 19013
Medical Phone: 610-872-6131
Dental Phone: 610-874-6231

Center for Family Health at Coatesville
744 East Lincoln Highway
Suite 110
Coatesville, PA 19320
Medical Phone: 610-380-4660
Dental Phone: 610-383-3888

Center for Family Health at Upper Darby
5 South State Road
Upper Darby, PA 19082
Phone: 610-352-6585


1510 Chester Pike,
Suite 200
Eddystone, PA 19022

Phone: 610-485-3800
Fax: 610-485-4221

Copyright by ChesPenn 2023. All rights reserved.