In Memoriam: A Tribute to Our Beloved Board Member

Maureen Keese, who was a devoted and cherished Board of Directors member for Healthy Connections, Inc., passed away this week. Maureen dearly loved our organization and mission and much of what we are today, and what we are trying to become, is a tribute to her and the work she did with our board over the past eight years.

“Maureen Keese was an amazing individual who helped so many in the community. She will be seriously missed and leaves a huge void,” said Healthy Connections CEO Tony Calandro. “She was one of our strongest supporters and biggest advocates and we will miss her presence within our Healthy Connections family.”

Maureen grew up in Newark, N.J., and attended Rutgers University before moving to California. She earned degrees from California State University Long Beach, Pepperdine University, and Azusa Pacific University, and began a career in education. In 2003, she and husband Dr. Hector Costamagna relocated to Arkansas. She began work at the University of Arkansas-Rich Mountain where she served as Director of Lifelong Learning and Program Development.

She joined the Healthy Connections, Inc., Board of Directors in 2012 to complete the term of a departing member. She stayed on for two additional terms on the board. Her experience in education, and healthcare marketing and administration, gave her a unique perspective in working to improve the quality of healthcare offered to our communities.

“What we had with Maureen was the epitome of an interested, enthusiastic volunteer. She served admirably, trying to make a difference in our community – both as a volunteer at Healthy Connections and through her job at UA-Rich Mountain,” said Derwood Brett, Chairman of the Healthy Connections Board of Directors. “We added several clinics when she was on the board. She never lost her excitement to make a difference. We are going to miss her.”

Maureen Keese was 69-years-old.

Free Covid-19 Testing Oct. 31 in Hot Springs

Healthy Connections, Inc., will provide completely free Covid-19 tests on Saturday, Oct. 31, in Hot Springs.

The completely free testing will be done as part of The Giving Team’s October “Food For Thought” event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Corner of Church St. and Malvern Ave. (Parking lot across from Habitat for Humanity).

“The Covid-19 pandemic is not slowing down and we are proud to be able to bring free testing to the communities we serve at events like this,” said Healthy Connections CEO Tony Calandro.

The Food For Thought event will feature various community resources provided by area community organizations and churches.

Healthy Connections has provided more than 4,000 free Covid-19 tests at pop-up events throughout Arkansas since the pandemic began. This has included more than 30 events in 13 cities and 10 Arkansas counties. See how the test is given and learn more about Healthy Connections’ free testing program at

Healthy Connections is also testing patients at all of its medical clinics in Mena, Little Rock, Hot Springs, Malvern, Arkadelphia, Mount Ida, and De Queen. In-clinic tests are considered medical appointments and patients should call 888-710-8220 to schedule. Healthy Connections accepts Medicaid, ArKids 1st, Medicare, and most private health insurance. There is also a sliding-fee scale for patients without health insurance who qualify. Health insurance companies are waiving all copays for Covid-19 testing.

Healthy Connections clinics are open, safe, healthy, and here for the communities they serve. The Healthy Connections community health network is a federally-qualified health center (FQHC). Healthy Connections and Evolve Behavioral Health both accept Medicaid, ARKids 1st, Medicare, and most private health insurance. There is also a sliding-fee scale for patients without health insurance who qualify. Medicaid patients may be required to switch their primary care provider to Healthy Connections before they can be seen. Learn more about Healthy Connections at

[MEC id=”10007″]

September Employees of the Month

Our September 2020 Healthy Connections employees of the month were super in every way. Presenting our winners:

  • East: Andrea Pilcher
  • West: Charlotte Craig

Throughout September, both Andrea and Charlotte exemplified our Healthy Connections three pillars of Excellence, Compassion, and Community. As winners, they are entitled to a $50 gift card or one day off.

Charlotte is a billing clerk in Mena and works with medical insurance payments for all clinics and work delinquent claims. Her nomination mentioned that she was “always willing to help everyone and she has the best customer service.”

Andrea is a LPN at the Hot Springs Central clinic. Her co-workers say that she is a “wonderful pediatrics nurse” and “patients always ask if she’s there for their kids.” She is also “always willing to help out and she always has an upbeat attitude.”

Each month, Healthy Connections chooses one employee of the month for both the East and West communities. Do you know who should be our next to be recognized? Nominate by visiting