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Eight groups receive nearly $300,000 to improve health care
By Chris Barnett / April 29, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...
The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded nearly $300,000 in grants to eight local organizations for everything from diabetes awareness to expanding health care for refugee children.

“Developing an inclusive primary care system that promotes healthy lives is one of our core strategic initiatives. These grants will advance our continuing efforts to make quality health care more accessible and affordable,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO.

The Foundation awarded the grants through its RIGHA Foundation Fund, which was created after Harvard Pilgrim Health Care acquired the former Rhode Island Group Health Association. In 2010, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the RIGHA Foundation transferred its $1.6 million endowment to the Rhode Island Foundation. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care continues to make annual contributions to the fund, which promotes the development of an effective primary health care system in the state.

“Philanthropic support can provide the seed funding necessary to take innovative programs like these to the next level. Our goal is to cut the cost of delivering high quality primary health care to Rhode Islanders,” said Karen Voci, president of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation.

State Dept. of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott praised the grantees for their work ensuring health care is accessible to all Rhode Islanders.

“The bold, creative proposals laid out by these eight recipients will be vital parts of our work to build a healthy Rhode Island by getting quality health services and care into the communities where they are needed most,” said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. “Someone’s health should not be based on their zip code. Your health should also not be based on your race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender orientation, level of income, or level of education. I applaud each of these organizations for stepping up and helping ensure that this is absolutely not the case in Rhode Island.”

The Blackstone Valley Community Health Care and the city of Central Falls shared $100,000 to create the Central Falls Neighborhood Health Station.

Blackstone Valley Community Health Care will use $50,000 to hire a community health worker for the health station. The worker will be posted to Central Falls High School's School Based Health Center, expanding access to the School Based Health Center's services for seventh and eighth graders and all high school students and expanding the number of Central Falls residents who are enrolled in the Neighborhood Health Station.

“The aim of the neighborhood health station is to enroll 90 percent of Central Falls residents in one clinical enterprise, which includes medical and dental care, urgent care, mental and behavioral health, substance abuse treatment, emergency medical services, physical and occupational therapy, home health, housing, physical activity promotion and health food and nutrition, and to make Central Falls the healthiest community in Rhode Island,” said Ray Lavoie, BVCHC’s executive director.

“Working with the city and Memorial Hospital, we will demonstrate how creating a culture of health, place by place and community by community, can improve population health outcomes while helping reduce health care costs,” he said.

The city of Central Falls will use $50,000 to hire a new community health care worker, who will also support both the city’s emergency medical services (EMS) and the health station by following up with all Central Falls residents who are transported by EMS and make sure each person has access to primary care, and to help orchestrate drug-overdose prevention in the city using a public health contact tracing model.

“These workers will help the entire Central Falls population receive appropriate primary care and prevention services,” said Mayor James Diossa. “That will significantly reduce hospital emergency department usage while making primary care, physical therapy and home health care more accessible.”

Hasbro Children's Hospital received $50,000 to expand services for children at its Refugee Clinic. In collaboration with Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, the clinic will offer intensive health care case management for refugee children, which includes ensuring that qualified interpreters are scheduled for all appointments, adding hours of operation and training health workers from refugee communities.

“A health care system that can seem complex and confusing to anyone is even more challenging for newly arrived refugees. Our clinic helps them navigate the system and remain in care,” said Dr. Carol Lewis, the clinic’s director. “Rhode Island is expected to see an increase of 30 percent in refugee arrivals this year. The program must expand to meet the growing need while enhancing the skills of those who will provide the services.

The Providence Center received $68,581 to launch an Intensive Outpatient Program for Spanish-speaking patients, who will be able to receive services beyond the organization’s traditional outpatient counseling, including psychiatric assessment, group therapy, individual therapy and case management services.

“This will enable us to address issues that are specific to the Spanish-speaking population including cultural integration, depression and anxiety, trauma and substance use. We will increase client engagement, reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, and will promote the overall health and wellness of Rhode Island’s Spanish-speaking population,” said Dale Klatzker, president and CEO of the Providence Center.

Thundermist Health Center of West Warwick received $39,500 to expand its Trans Health Access Team, which serves patients who identify as transgender, transsexual, intersex, genderqueer, agender, androgynous and other gender non-conforming identities.

“We aim to create and sustain a competent and caring point of access to primary care for the entire spectrum of trans adults. Since launching this multi-disciplinary practice last year, we have been adding about three new patients a week,” said Chuck Jones, president and CEO of Thundermist.

WellOne Primary Medical and Dental Care received $28,000 to create a Neighborhood Health Station in Scituate in collaboration with the Scituate Health Alliance.

“We will establish a primary medical, dental and behavioral health care facility in the town. The grant will cover the start-up costs associated with these elements of the broader Neighborhood Health Station endeavor,” said Peter Bancroft, president and CEO of WellOne.

The Care Transformation Collaborative of Rhode Island received $5,000 to help underwrite training for its health care providers and stakeholders.

“Continuing education and sharing best practices help both new and advanced primary care practices develop skills and learn about resources in key areas such as patient engagement and managing complex patients. This will help practices work within the changing health care system to address quality and the high cost of care,” said Debra Hurwitz, co-director of CTCRI.

Diabetes Education Partners of Rhode Island received $4,297 to raise awareness about diabetes. The state Department of Health estimates approximately 50,000 Rhode Islanders with diabetes are undiagnosed.

“The disease is becoming more common in the state, with higher concentrations in certain ethnic and racial minority groups,” said Diana Mercurio, president of the Diabetes Education Foundation of R.I. “Diabetes is also costly. About $446 million is spent each year in Rhode Island to care for people with diabetes.”

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2015, the Foundation awarded $41.5 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.
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