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HEALTH Announces Recipients of Health Professional Loan Repayment Program Awards - Program helps retain high-skilled, knowledge-based jobs in Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE Yesterday the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) announced the 2015 recipients of the Rhode Island Health Professional Loan Repayment Program (RI HPLRP) during a State House ceremony that also honored the program's funders.

The Program, offering health education loan repayment to eligible health professionals who make a two-year commitment to practice in medically underserved communities, helps retain high-skilled medical professionals as well as expand employment opportunities in Rhode Island. These health professionals serve in a variety of disciplines, including primary care, dentistry, and mental health.

"The Rhode Island Professional Loan Repayment Program is a significant step forward in increasing the number of providers in our state in order to eliminate the injustice of health disparities experienced by many of our communities," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH., director of HEALTH. "Making a path to a higher education and professional certification more affordable and accessible is a key part of Governor Raimondo's plan to spark Rhode Island's economic comeback. This is a wonderful example of training our health care workforce to meet the needs in our communities."

Special recognition was given to Jane Hayward, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Center Association, for her efforts in soliciting matching funds for the Program from community partners, including Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Foundation, Delta Dental of Rhode Island, AmeriChoice/United Health Care of Rhode Island, Landmark Hospital, and CharterCare.

"Loan repayment is a critical tool for recruiting and retaining primary care providers in Rhode Island," Hayward said. "We thank all of the donors for making this possible."

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Foundation, AmeriChoice/United Healthcare, of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Health Center Association each contributed $25,000 to the fund. Delta Dental of Rhode Island, Landmark Hospital, and CharterCARE also contributed $50,000 each.

This year's loan repayment recipients include Elizabeth Benz, DMD from Samuel Sinclair Dental Center, Nelly Burdette, PsyD from Providence Community Health Centers, Carmen Diaz, RN from Providence Community Health Centers, Alice Eyo, RN from Blackstone Valley Community Health Center, Rebecca Harris, RN from Thundermist Health Center, Snehal Lakhkar, DMD from Comprehensive Community Action Program, Jennifer Mitchell, RDH from Samuels Sinclair Dental Center, Pedro Ochoa, DDS from Blackstone Valley Community Health Center, Raj Pande, DMD from Thundermist Health Center, Stephanie Pinto, RNP-BC from WellOne, Javier Ramirez, DDS from Comprehensive Community Action Program, Leslie Resto, RN from Providence Community Health Centers, Phouphokham Sisomboun, RHD from Thundermist Health Center, and Emily White, MD from Providence Community Health Centers. The mission of the Program is to improve access to care, retain healthcare providers in underserved communities, and address health professional shortages that cause disparities in health. Loan re-payment awards to eligible health professionals are given by the Health Professional Loan Repayment Board.

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