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RIDOH Announces Awards to Strengthen Healthcare Workforce and Narrow Health Disparities

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Health Professionals Loan Repayment Board announced more than $686,000 in loan repayment awards today aimed at strengthening the healthcare workforce and narrowing health disparities in Rhode Island by increasing the number of providers in medically underserved communities.

The awards went to 18 healthcare professionals, including physicians, dentists, nurses, and behavioral health providers. In accepting their loan repayment awards, the recipients have committed to practicing in medically underserved communities in Rhode Island for at least two years.

"The Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program is essential to our work to eliminate health disparities by ensuring access to quality health services and care in every zip code in Rhode Island," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of Health and Chair of the Health Professional Loan Repayment Board. "Health and medical education are expensive. This program helps remove barriers for our next generation of healthcare providers, and it also helps us draw the best and brightest to the healthcare workforce in our state."

Funding for the program comes from the federal government and from various health and community organizations. The Rhode Island Health Center Association solicited matching funds from many of these organizations.

"The recruitment and retention of health professionals is essential to having an adequate workforce to provide comprehensive medical services to Rhode Islanders. The loan repayment program is a vital tool which ensures this necessary supply of professionals to deliver care, especially within communities where access can be challenging," said Jane A. Hayward, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Center Association.

Contributions to the Health Professionals Loan Repayment Fund were made by the Rhode Island Foundation ($200,000), Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island ($50,000), the Rhode Island Health Center Association ($50,000), Delta Dental of Rhode Island ($50,000), Landmark Hospital ($50,000), CharterCARE ($50,000), Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island ($30,000), and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan ($25,000). Additionally, $175,000 in federal funding was contributed by U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) through a grant to RIDOH.

More information about the Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program, including a definition of a medically underserved community.

Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program Award Recipients

Blackstone Valley Community Health Center: Alice Eyo Registered Nurse Pedro Ochoa Dentist Shannan Victorino Registered Nurse

Providence Community Health Centers: Mofoluso Agbelese Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Beth Cronin Physician Jessica Salak Physician Emily White Physician

Rhode Island Department of Corrections: Jessica Bonanno-Hamel Independent Clinical Social Worker

Thundermist Health Center: Yamila Cos Dentist Jessica Heney Physician Vanessa Krasinski Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Stephanie Avila Certified Nurse Midwife Emily Collier Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Allison Parkhurst Marriage and Family Therapist

The Providence Center: Marol Kerge Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Emily Phrasikaysone Registered Nurse

Comprehensive Community Action Program: Kimberly Stokinger Physician Assistant Jason Villa Physician Assistant

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