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Delivery of Care

Topping off ceremony in Central Falls

The last steel beam will be put into place at the new Neighborhood Health Station

Photo by Richard Asinof

Ray Lavoie, left, and Dr. Michael Fine, at the site of the new Neighborhood Health Station in Central Falls, in August of 2017, holding architectural renderings of the new facility.

By Richard Asinof
Posted 4/16/18
The topping off ceremony for the last steel beam in the structure of the new Neighborhood Health Station in Central Falls represents a tangible step forward in creating a new vision of primary care delivery in Rhode Island, based on community needs, not just providers’ desires.
Will economic development officials from CommerceRI attend the topping off ceremony? What elected officials will join with Central Falls Mayor James Diossa at the ceremony? Will it be a front-page story in The Providence Journal? Why is that discussion of health equity zones and neighborhood health stations not part of the political vernacular in Rhode Island? Can the new data analysis available through the partnership with Central Falls’ EMS be scaled up in other Rhode Island cities and towns?
There was much ado about “nothing” last week when CharterCare CEO John Holiver announced that the health system, owned by the California-based, for-profit Prospect Medical Holdings, would be making an unsolicited offer to reopen Memorial Hospital. It garnered a lot of news hoopla.
However, the offer was ridiculed in a statement by Care New England spokesman Jim Beardsworth, who said that the announcement “represents nothing more than an opportunity to muddy the health care landscape with an ill-conceived plan with no true thought for serving the community need.”
Chris Callaci, general counsel for the United Nurses & Allied Professionals union, issued even a strong response, calling BS. “Today’s farcical announcement was typical for Prospect CharterCare: short on details and long on empty promises and rhetoric,” he said. “This is about money,” he continued. “Prospect CharterCare executives are trying to extort higher reimbursement rates.”
The R.I. Department of Health said it had not received any information from CharterCare.
Will the topping off ceremony at the Neighborhood Health Station in Central Falls receive the same kind of news coverage? Stay tuned.

CENTRAL FALLS – On Monday, April 23, the new $15 million Neighborhood Health Station facility now under construction at 1000 Broad St. will celebrate the completion of its steel structure with a topping off ceremony, laying the last steel beam in place. [Editor's note: the date of the topping off ceremony was changed.]

The new 47,000-square-foot facility, developed by Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, a community health center serving Pawtucket and Central Falls, has been designed to accommodate as many as an additional 10,000 patients a year.

When you include the current patients being seen at Blackstone’s Central Falls offices and its urgent care facility, it translates into resources to attend to the needs of some 16,000 patients a year, with 50,000 to 60,000 patient visits a year.

Currently, Blackstone Valley Community Health Care provides care to 60 to 70 percent of the population of Central Falls, according to Ray Lavoie, executive director of the community health care.

The completion of the new Neighborhood Health Station facility is scheduled for the early fall of 2018.

At the forefront
The Neighborhood Health Station in Central Falls is one of two such models of care, the other located in Scituate.

As part of the its approach to health care delivery, the health center is also planning to expand its outreach into the community, increasing the number of health coaches working as part the primary care teams.

On March 30, Blackstone Valley Community Health Care received $70,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation to add health coaches to its primary care teams, in order to promote health behavior change and bridge linguistic and cultural barriers between its medical staff and its patients.

Deploying health coaches within a single clinical enterprise that can instantly produce clinical data on patients, Lavoie explained. “It has potential to have a profound impact on the public health of an entire community that has high levels of poverty, unemployment and poor health outcomes.”

Blackstone Valley said it intended to recruit participants in the Community Health Worker Training program at Rhode Island College, using the grant to pay stipends to the participants.

The urgent care center at the new Neighborhood Health Station in Central Falls will also serve as the focal point to develop a partnership with the city of Central Falls’ EMS services, supported by a $35,000 grant from The Rhode Island Foundation.

“These partnerships will help us make sure that EMS is available whenever it is needed, and that Central Falls residents have access to the urgent care and primary care they need,” said Mayor James Diossa.

The goals, according to Diossa, include improving the delivery of primary health care, reducing instances of non-emergency 911 calls, reducing the number of non-emergent emergency room transports, and reducing the number of Central Falls residents being re-admitted to hospitals due to poor management of chronic disease.

Putting data to work
At the Monday, March 12, meeting of the Central Falls City Council, the council heard a report on the analysis of transports for impressions of “alcohol intoxication” by Central Falls EMS in 2017.

The analysis, authored by Scott Hewitt, Dr. Michael Fine, and Deborah Navarro, quantified what had been suspected: summer store hours for liquor stores had resulted in an increase in EMS runs for both alcohol intoxication, both for repeat users [a 51 percent increase] and for single episode users [a 24 percent increase].

In response to the detailed information presented, the Central Falls City Council moved to seek legislative approval to change the summer opening hours for the sale of liquor, moving it back to 9 a.m., the standard open hours for liquor stores.

The move by the Central Falls City Council was the first time that an elected body had used evidence-based health data from EMS runs to attempt to curtail the incidence of chronic alcohol abuse in Rhode Island.

Accountable care
Later this month, Blackstone Valley Community Health Care may become one of the newly certified accountable entities under the R.I. Medicaid office program initiated as part of the Reinvention of Medicaid, following membership in a two-year pilot program.

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