Elizabeth M. Pfriem


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Elizabeth M. Pfriem

One woman’s commitment to children and families yields a lasting legacy

Elizabeth M. Pfriem, known to her friends as “Betty,” is remembered for her longtime support of Bridgeport Hospital, which led to major improvements in neonatal intensive care, the cardiology hybrid operating suite and the children’s emergency department. Since 2019, the foundation that bears her name has also been a key partner in the hospital’s community health efforts by funding the innovative and impactful work of the Primary Care Center (PCC), which recently achieved prestigious federal recognition as a Patient-Centered Medical Home.

Mrs. Pfriem died in 2017, but her legacy has been carried on by the trustees of the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Foundation. That legacy is synonymous with high-quality, sustainable programs that are essential to the health of the Bridgeport community, particularly those that improve the wellbeing of the city’s most economically challenged and most vulnerable patients at the PCC.

“Elizabeth Pfriem was deeply committed to child advocacy, public education and community health throughout her lifetime,” said Tony Montalto, executive director/co-trustee of the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Foundation.

The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model is an approach to delivering high-quality, cost-effective primary care. The PCMH model coordinates culturally appropriate patient care across the health system while building better relationships between patients and their clinical care teams. The model has been associated with effective chronic disease management, increased patient and provider satisfaction, cost savings, improved quality of care and increased preventive care.

“Dealing with our patients’ complex needs requires so much more than providing medical care,” said
Primary Care Center Medical Director Manisha Gupta, MD. “We must also address their social
needs and care for the patient in a broader, holistic way. Our patients experience improved well-being
as their health and other needs are addressed. We are keeping patients out of the hospital and from
seeking emergency care as their health improves.”

The Elizabeth M. Pfriem Foundation recently awarded the Bridgeport Hospital Foundation a $250,000 “Challenge Grant.” The gift aims to encourage other donors in the community to support the PCC’s Health Maintenance and Preventive Care Program, a new initiative that focuses on lowering the barriers of care for the underserved by connecting them to local resources to improve the rate of breast, colorectal and cervical cancer screenings for early detection. The goal of the program is to save lives and detect disease early when it is most treatable.

“With this challenge grant, we’re asking others in the Bridgeport community to join us in supporting
this very worthy cause,” Montalto said.

The challenge grant comes on the heels of an initial $500,000 grant that the Foundation made to support the development of the PCC in 2019. “We saw the importance of supporting such a facility. There is a tremendous need in the Bridgeport community to provide direct services for the underserved,” said Montalto.

“Betty Pfriem was concerned about children and families in need and wanted to ensure that they could get services in the area where they lived,” he added. “She was someone who never wanted to receive attention about the things she was doing – she just wanted to do good and see the results. What we’ve seen happening in the past few years with the Primary Care Center at Bridgeport Hospital – I think Mrs. Pfriem would be very satisfied.”