In Connecticut nearly 40 years ago Optimus Health Care, Inc. (formally known as Bridgeport Community Health Center) was founded by a group of civic-minded individuals committed to the goal of starting a healthcare home in their neighborhood. It was not going to be easy. The site was located in an apartment house where pigeons were roosting in the top floor. The Community Action Agency, Action for Bridgeport Community Development (ABCD), was one of the the organizers, along with a part-time chiropractor, who later became the Executive Director. There were only nine people on staff, including three nurses and three part-time physicians. Somehow, they made it work. And it worked because the demand for care was so great. Bridgeport in the 1970s was struggling in the throes of the industrial decline. There were few jobs, and growing numbers of working poor. Up until that point the only local health clinic was located in the hospital. Options for affordable care were few, especially for the surrounding Latino community.
“We were a storefront operation when I started back in 1983,” recalls Optimus CEO Ludwig Spinelli in a video which documents how the health center started. Gradually, the health center grew and expanded its services to include pediatric, behavioral health, dental, health education, Health Care for the Homeless, and even naturopathic/alternative medicine. “We look at the whole person and if any piece of the primary care needs to be addressed, we address it,” said Spinelli.
Optimus Health Care, Inc., has come along way since starting in an apartment house in 1976. Today, there are 22 licensed sites in four cities, a staff of nearly 400, and more than 52,000 patients. “Optimus is the Latin word for the best,” said Spinelli. “We do provide the best model of care and we prove it every day.”