Person of the Week
Carol Flaim: Something New in Deep River
Drawing on a career as a triage nurse rapidly offering advice on a wide range of health concerns, Carol Flaim is intent on being fully prepared as Deep River’s new Municipal Ethics Commission starts its charge under her leadership. (Photo courtesy of Carol Flaim )
Carol Flaim is doing something in Deep River that nobody has ever done before. That is because she is heading a new commission that never existed before, the town’s Municipal Ethics Commission, created by a referendum of Deep River voters in the November election. The commission has five members, who chose Carol to lead, as well as two alternates.
At the time she learned that an ethics commission was going to be formed, Carol’s first reaction was surprise.
“When I heard about it, I thought ‘How can the town not have this already?’” she recalls.
Several other communities in the area, according to Carol, have ethics commissions or boards, among them Old Saybrook and Clinton. The State of Connecticut has an Office of State Ethics.
Carol’s employer, Aetna, regularly has required ethics classes and an ethics test annually.
“You have to get 100 percent on it,” Carol says.
Carol has lived in Deep River for some 20 years but the formation of the Ethics Commission coincided with her own decision to become more locally involved.
“At this point I am in a place where I can contribute,” she says.
She has been reading about ethics in government, and listening to audio books on the subject. She was particularly impressed by one sentence in the material: Standards worth defining are standards worth defending.
At the moment, Carol says, she is interested in having the commission start out by setting up by-laws and operating procedures.
“I firmly believe in things written down and organized,” she says.
She also thinks the commission might consider some hypothetical situations as dry runs in working through the thorny problems that ethics conflicts can present.
Carol admits prior to the ethics commission, she was not, by her own definition, a “meeting person.” But in this new role, she is very clear on how she would like meetings to run and the role of the leader in making that happen.
“I want to be prepared, I want meetings to be focused and to start and end on time,” she says.
When she was a child, Carol wanted to be a pilot a cargo plane. She loved the idea of flying and because she was shy, she thinks what appealed about cargo plane was that she wouldn’t have to talk to any passengers.
Carol says that witnessing the work of EMTs and rescue assistance personnel at a fatal car accident when she was in college transformed her career goals. She became is a registered nurse, starting her professional career in the Middlesex Hospital system, where as a youngster she had worked as a so-called “pinkie,” a volunteer helper bringing around things like books and magazines.
For more than 20 years, she has worked as a triage nurse for Aetna; those covered by Aetna insurance can call the triage telephone hotline 24 hours a day for quick answers to health questions about everything from urgent care to treatment options.
Carol works from home so the pandemic has not changed her schedule. She understands that for many people it has been a time of added stress to and loneliness, but she says for her it has been a beneficial time.
“My heart goes out to people who have suffered isolation and I know that not many people have thrived, but I have. I feel more centered, healthy, happy and focused,” she says.
In fact, Carol’s focus helped her lose 40 pounds in the past year.
Carol is a lifetime Middlesex County resident. She grew up in Portland and recalls when the economy of the area centered on tobacco growing, particularly cultivating the outer wrapper leaves for cigars. More than geography makes Carol a cigar aficionado. She is also cigar smoker, and says that smoking a cigar helps keep the flies away as she mows her property with her 1971 garden tractor.
“I have bonded with that tractor. It has lived through several boyfriends and one husband,” she says.
When Carol goes to have a cigar at Bongo Ron’s Lounge and Cigar in Old Saybrook, a companion also goes along, her two-year-old German shepherd Jemma. Carol, a longtime German shepherd owner, has used the training books by the monks of New Skete, a monastic order in New York, that has famously written about dog training. Carol has visited the monastery in Cambridge, New York, where the dog training courses are not the only attraction for her. She appreciates the tranquility and spirituality of the monastery.
As a child, Carol learned to ski at Powder Ridge in Middlefield. As an adult she volunteered to be a skiing coach for the Connecticut Special Olympics and she has been active in the program for some 12 years, since 2015 as clinical director of health promotion, providing health assistance and screening not only for athletes but also for their families.
“I love the Special Olympics,” she says. “The athletes leave exhausted and happy and so do I.”
She looks forward to the work of the Ethics Commission and becoming involved in a new aspect of the community.
“Deep River is a wonderful place and I am up for the challenge,” she says.
For information in the Deep River Municipal Ethics Commission, call 860-526-6020.