Primary Care

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

I wish I could be in two places at once. This Friday, two health policy-related conferences take place simultaneously in Warwick. Here's a bit more about each, and why the issues they're covering matter to Rhode Islanders.

National Institutes of Health

A new $1.6 million dollar federal grant will help the University of Rhode Island train more nurse practitioners. The idea is to help community health centers, in particular, care for more patients.

URI will use the money to hire new teachers and give students more practice in community clinics and patient homes. The goal is to graduate 109 new nurse practitioners in three years.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket has won federal funding to train more primary care doctors. The program is focused on caring for kids in poor communities. And the hope is that trainees will decide to stay on after their residencies. The grant will help residents see more children in the hospital's family medicine clinics, add mental health services, and teach residents more about the social determinants of health.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay joins Elisabeth Harrison in the studio to talk about the growing importance of primary care in the health care industry.

Patient-centered medical homes. Community health teams. Accountable care organizations. Integrated medical and behavioral health care practices. Case management.


Central Falls' community health center is at capacity, officials say, in its current building. Now, Blackstone Valley Community Health Care has acquired a three-story medical building from Memorial Hospital for $720,000 at 1000 Broad St. in Central Falls.

Health center officials say they plan to move in toward the end of 2016, when $5 million dollars in renovations are complete. The new center will be able to accommodate more than 10,000 patients and will add about a dozen new clinicians.

County Health Rankings 2015 / Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released its annual County Health Rankings, and Rhode Island's counties (Providence in particular) seem to be faring worse than the national average on a few measures, and much better on a few, too.

Screen shot / Centers for Medicare and Medicaid

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have announced the second round of Health Care Innovation awards. These are big grants for projects that are trying to reduce the cost of health care and/or improve care delivery, often for some of the sickest or most complicated patients.

The state’s largest hospital chain and largest insurer have inked an agreement to share patient data that will help them look for ways to improve health and save money. The deal is the largest of its kind in the state and could shape health care for more than 35,000 Rhode Islanders.

A statewide effort to link more Rhode Islanders with primary care is expanding.

The effort is called the Chronic Care Sustainability Initiative, or CSI.CSI promotes the patient-centered medical home model of health care. In a patient centered medical home, a team of health care professionals coordinates a patient’s care. It’s especially helpful for patients with chronic illnesses, although anyone can join.

State officials have announced another tool to help physicians spot and treat drug abuse.

The Rhode Island Department of Health's recent decision to grant approval, with 22 conditions, to CVS to open seven retail health clinics in pharmacies throughout Rhode Island came down in the form of a 43-page document. In my humble opinion, it's a well-written, even eloquent ode to the importance of primary care and the challenges of regulating health care in a state where for-profit health care is no longer around the corner but setting up shop on it.

Megan Hall / RIPR

The nation’s largest pharmacy chain has been given the green light to open seven retail health care clinics in Rhode Island. CVS pharmacies’ MinuteClinics would see patients for minor illnesses and perform some routine health screenings. But state health officials' approval comes with several conditions.

As you may know, far more Rhode Islanders signed up for Medicaid than expected recently. And the state is on the hook for millions more dollars than anticipated to care for them. The federal government is picking up the tab for now for people who became newly eligible for the program under the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which Rhode Island opted to accept (unlike some other states). That allowed childless adults, men and women, earning less than a certain amount a year, to get health insurance, some perhaps for the first time.

Having a chronic disease like diabetes or asthma can be debilitating. It can also be managed with ongoing medical treatment and taking care of your health. But there's a cost to not managing these conditions - to your health, and to the health care system. That's why health care professionals and public officials have been focusing their efforts on helping patients manage those chronic conditions through better primary care. That's the goal of the "chronic care sustainability initiative" in Rhode Island, or CSI  RI.

David Orenstein / Brown University

Match Day was Friday for fourth year medical students around the country. It's an annual rite, the moment when students find out whether and where they'll be doing their residency. It's a big deal because where you do your residency matters on so many levels - from the number of years you'll spend there, to the quality of the doctors who train you, to the opportunities you'll have to deepen your specialty. And many residents end up staying where they train.