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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 Professional Loan Repayment Board announced $680,000 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 25 healthcare professionals, including physicians, dentists and oral healthcare providers, nurses, and behavioral healthcare 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.

"All Rhode Islanders in every zip code deserve access to high-quality health services and care," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of Health and Chair of the Health Professional Loan Repayment Board. "The Health Professional Loan Repayment Program helps make health and medical education and the pathway to a career in primary care in Rhode Island more affordable for more students and new healthcare providers. It also helps ensure that all communities have the opportunity to benefit from some of the most talented, dedicated members of our healthcare workforce."

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 loan repayment program is a critical tool in recruiting and retaining the best clinicians to serve all communities and to assure that all Rhode Islanders have access to accessible and comprehensive primary, behavioral health and oral health services."

Contributions to the Health Professional 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 Medical Center ($50,000), CharterCARE Health Partners ($50,000), Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island ($30,000), and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan ($25,000). Several of these organizations, including the Rhode Island Foundation, the Rhode Island Health Center Association, Delta Dental of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island have contributed funding for several consecutive years or have increased their contributions over time. Additionally, $175,000 in federal matching funds were contributed by U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) through a grant to RIDOH.

More information about the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program, including a definition of a medically underserved community, is available online (link below).

Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program Award Recipients

Blackstone Valley Community Health Center: - Cameron Lang Physician - Pedro Ochoa Dentist - Ann Bisland Advanced Practice Registered Nurse - Yuli Roldan Registered Dental Hygienist

Center for Primary Care (Rhode Island Hospital clinic): - Rahul Vanjani Physician

Community Care Alliance: - Sarah Csizmesia Registered Nurse

Eleanor Slater Hospital: - Nadia McGovern Licensed Professional Counselor

Family Service of Rhode Island: - Eileen D'Eletto Licensed Professional Counselor

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England: Danika Severino Wynn Certified Nurse Midwife

Providence Community Health Centers: - Karla Arango Registered Nurse - Natasha Bica Physician - Marileni Espinal Registered Nurse - Sarah Gambell Licensed Clinical Social Worker - Jennifer Logigian Dentist - Mark Pfeiffer Licensed Clinical Social Worker - Eileen Pinheiro Registered Nurse - Emily White Physician - Jennifer Willoughby Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Samuels Sinclair Dental Center: - Elizabeth Benz Dentist - Eileen Danaher Dentist

The Providence Center: - Julie Caraballo Registered Nurse - Sandrine Guilherme Licensed Clinical Social Worker - Patrick Ofori-Appiah Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Thundermist Health Center: - Anna Slanda Registered Nurse

WellOne Primary Medical and Dental Care - Kanchan Pande Dentist

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