By G. Wayne Miller
May 28th, 2020
CENTRAL FALLS – Dr. Michael Fine, long one of the state’s top public-health leaders, will be working full-time with the mayors of Central Falls and Pawtucket as those communities address the unprecedented needs of residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
Both cities have been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19, with 1,382 positive cases recorded in Pawtucket, second-highest in the state, and 820 in Central Falls, fourth highest, as of Thursday.
In a media release, Fine, Blackstone Valley Community Health Care senior clinical and population health officer and former director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, said he will begin work immediately. In addition to collaborating with the cities’ mayors, he will be in daily and direct contact with the state department he once led.
“I am grateful for my time at Blackstone Valley Community Health Care and was thrilled to see the creation of the first urban neighborhood health station in the United States. Now, we face another unprecedented challenge,” Fine said. “I look forward to continuing the groundbreaking work to combat the coronavirus.”
Said Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa: “We are living in different times where the priority is the public health of our residents. Central Falls and Pawtucket are fortunate to have had a relationship with Dr. Fine prior to the coronavirus pandemic. We thank the Blackstone Valley Community Health Care for extending Dr. Fine’s vacation and allowing him to devote all of his time to the covid-19 effort.”
Said Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien: “Blackstone Valley healthcare has been a critical partner in our COVID-19 response. With Blackstone’s help, we can defeat COVID–19 together. We are pleased to have Dr. Fine’s expertise dedicated to combating the virus.”
Fine will join the two cities’ BEAT COVID-19 initiative, launched early this month as “a one-of-a-kind grassroots system to give people with symptoms in both Pawtucket and Central Falls – who otherwise might not feel comfortable getting tested or have access to a primary care doctor – access to testing, educational support on how to safely isolate, and resources to overcome hardships associated with the coronavirus pandemic,” according to its web site.
Raymond J. Lavoie, executive director of Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, praised Fine’s work at Blackstone Valley and said, “we will strive to carry forward his vision and ideas as he rides to the rescue of Central Falls and Pawtucket in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic. We wish him well and advise all to pay heed to his counsel.”
Michael Fine, MD, is a writer, community organizer, and family physician. He is the chief health strategist for the City of Central Falls, RI, and Senior Clinical and Population Health Services Officer for Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, Inc., and recipient of many awards and prizes for his pioneering work bringing together public health and primary medical care. He was director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, 2011–2015.
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