Rhode Island Foundation awards nearly $300,000 in health care grants

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Foundation announced that eight local
organizations will receive nearly $300,000 in grants 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.
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«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.
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State Dept. of Health Director Dr. 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 Dr. Alexander-Scott, MD,
MPH. «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.
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Blackstone Valley 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, Blackstone Valley’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.
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«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 of Pacoag 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. For more information, visit
rifoundation.org.