How PHCentral Began
PHCentral began in 1997 when the first version of the site was built by Michael Szczepkowski on his personal AOL webspace. Michael was a caregiver for his wife, Kathy, who had PAH, secondarily to Scleroderma. Close by, in the same zip code in Pennsylvania, Carol Aserinsky, a newly diagnosed PAH patient, found that website and its message board. As Carol's husband Armond put it, "my wife Carol, that most feisty patient, found that website while its ink was still drying." Thus began the friendship that would spawn PHCentral.
This was a supremely difficult time for the Aserinsky and Szczepkowski families. What helped them hold it together was the development of this whole new concept to reach out to people who were dealing with illness that is both chronic AND acute AND always SERIOUS. It was important work.
Michael, Carol, and Armond hooked themselves up with a programming group that Carol knew through business and they produced a pretty nice website which they decided to operate on behalf of PHA.
Initially, the website carried the PHA logo, but the management of PHA did not embrace the concept wholeheartedly. Perhaps they just did not see the value yet of having a place for PAH'ers from around the world to talk, share and exchange information. In 1999, Michael, Armond and Carol all held management positions at PHA although the website still had not gained acceptance by that organization.
But Armond - who became responsible for the website - forged ahead. He recruited people who demonstrated needed skills and ideas by calling them personally to invite them to join the team to help create the website. Soon there was a core group of skilled, smart and dedicated people working together under Armond's leadership toward the mission.
Eventually Michael, Armand and Carol resigned their PHA positions. They decided to strike out on their own to create a new organization and an improved web presence with a focus on patient advocacy. Some of those who had been recruited for the website effort followed Armand. The team was committed to build the new organization which they quickly named PHCentral in the summer of 1999. The old site remained with PHA to provide support for those who had come to rely on it for support and information. The team began anew to create the PHC website with a new focus. Construction of what became PHCentral moved ahead very quickly.
Over the years, PHCentral has become a well-respected PH resource for individuals and families seeking information, friendship and support. Because we remain an all-volunteer staff, the pioneer spirit has not been lost. We are responsive and committed to serving and advocating for the PH community.
In the summer of 2009, PHCentral launched a new, friendlier website to continue work in the PH Community. We added new sections and expanded old ones. In striving to connect people all around the world, we now have volunteers from Australia, Canada and Germany working with us.
Page Updated: October 2010