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PCHC College Unbound graduates

Congratulations to the latest PCHC College Unbound graduates

Congratulations to the fifth, sixth, and seventh Providence Community Health Centers team members to complete the College Unbound program. Christine Loesch, Gricelyz Montanez, and Zulema Gonzalez graduated on May 14, each with a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Change Studies. The graduates are pictured here from left to right.

Zulema, Enrollment & Project Manager, said PCHC has been very supportive of the College Unbound program, offering our classrooms as a teaching site and supporting employees with partial tuition reimbursement. Christine, an HR Business Partner, said the College Unbound schedule allowed her to go back and complete her degree while continuing to work full-time. Gricelyz, SMART Clinic Health and Wellness Coordinator at Mt. Pleasant High School, said she pursued the degree for herself and her children as well.

College Unbound is an innovative, degree-granting college focused on adults seeking a Bachelor of Arts degree. Congratulations to the graduates!

Lillian Nieves

PCHC's Lillian Nieves, PharmD, named Pharmacist of the Year

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Providence Community Health Center’s Lillian Nieves, PharmD, has been named the Guido L. Pettinicchio “Rhode Island Pharmacist of the Year” by the Rhode Island Pharmacists Association. Lillian will be recognized at RIPA’s annual dinner and awards ceremony on June 16, 2022 at Kirkbrae Country Club.

Lillian has positively impacted the lives of our patients - particularly those with diabetes, depression, and pediatric asthma – through her innovation and knowledge. Lillian is passionate about patient care and works to resolve barriers to care for patients.

“What I enjoy most about working at PCHC is being able to collaborate cross-functionally with clinical teams to improve patient care outcomes regardless of the patient’s ability to pay for their medications,” said Lillian. “As public health providers, pharmacists are called to mitigate suffering and ensure medication safety for the patients in our care.”

This past year, Lillian sought solutions to assist at-risk pediatric patients by using her clinical pharmacy skills to help providers optimize their patient’s asthma treatment plans. She developed and implemented pharmacy workflows to engage parents, children, and providers with the goal of improving the patient’s quality of life while decreasing ED/hospital utilization.

Prior to the pandemic, Lillian spearheaded a statewide initiative to decrease the number of automatic medication refills with a focus on continuous quality improvement. The goal was to improve the overall system of unnecessary medication refills to ensure safety for patients while eliminating burdensome prescription requests received by providers. During the COVID pandemic, Lillian worked to improve antidepressant non-adherence by ensuring patients picked up their first antidepressant prescription in the pharmacy. This pharmacy intervention proved to be 92.5% effective compared to the national average of 33%.

“PCHC has challenged me to apply my knowledge, experience, and clinical expertise to assure positive outcomes for all patients,” said Lillian. “Medications don’t work if patients do not take them. Promoting effective medication use requires that I treat the whole patient. This means identifying and addressing their barriers to obtaining optimal care. Once these barriers are addressed, it becomes much easier to move the needle and reach shared treatment goals.”

Congratulations to Lillian on this well-deserved honor!

Capitol Hill Grows to Meet the Needs of Community

Capitol Hill Grows to Meet the Needs of Community


Renovations to our Capitol Hill Health Center have been completed, which means more people in the community now have access to great health services. The new clinic space opened for patients on March 3rd, less than 10 months after a groundbreaking ceremony. The additional 3,616 square feet of space includes 10 new exam rooms (including a negative pressure room with direct access to the outside), a waiting room, team space, a provider room, and restrooms.

Capitol Hill Health Center is located at 40 Candace Street in Providence's Smith Hill section. Later this spring, Capitol Hill will hold a dedication ceremony in the newly-expanded space in honor of the late Dr. John Moran, a pediatrician who joined PCHC in 1973 as our first full-time physician and spent much of his career at Capitol.

The opening of this new space came just three days after the ribbon cutting for our ninth health center -- PCHC Atwood. We are excited to continue growing to meet the need for services in our community!



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Althea Graves, Dr. Espat, and Dr. Corcoran named to Board

Althea Graves, Dr. Espat, and Dr. Corcoran named to Board


Providence Community Health Centers is pleased to welcome three new members to our board including a member of our Community Advisory Council and two physician leaders.

althea webAlthea Graves has been a member of the PCHC Community Advisory Council since January 2020. She began her work as a community activist in 1972, when her mother, the late community activist Mary C. Jones, brought her to her first community event. Althea has served on numerous boards, committees, and commissions including the ONE Neighborhood Builders Board of Directors, Providence Community Library Board of Directors, Smith Hill Community Development Corporation, and Smith Hill Advocacy and Resource Partnerships. Althea is a retired educator and an outspoken supporter of healthy, inclusive, and equitable health services, education, and housing.

Espat headshot 2021N. Joseph Espat, MD, MS, FACS, is Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Director of the Cancer Center at Roger Williams Medical Center. A Professor of Surgery and Assistant Dean of Clinical Affairs at Boston University School of Medicine, Dr. Espat focuses his practice on Hepatobiliary and Surgical Oncology. Dr. Espat completed a Surgical Oncology/Hepatobiliary fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He completed residency and medical school at University of Florida College of Medicine. Dr. Espat is a committee member for several National Societies and is on the Editorial and/or Review Board of 20 Journals.

corcoran j russellJ. Russell Corcoran MD, FACP, is an internist and geriatrician who has a medical acupuncture practice in Narragansett. He is Medical Director of the HopeHealth Hospice & Palliative Care home care team serving patients in the southern half of Rhode Island. He has held numerous physician leadership positions during his career including as Chief Medical Officer at South County Health. Dr. Corcoran graduated from Medical School at Georgetown University and completed his residency at the Brown Program at Rhode Island Hospital. He has expertise in geriatrics, hospice, pain control, medical acupuncture, care of special needs patients, and Patient Centered Medical Homes.


15th Annual Golf Benefit

15th Annual Golf Benefit taking place on July 18th at Warwick Country Club


Providence Community Health Center’s biggest fundraiser of the year is coming up! Our 15th Annual Golf Benefit Tournament takes place at Warwick Country Club on Monday, July 18, 2022 with a 1 p.m. shotgun start. Golf foursomes are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. The event includes opportunities for corporate sponsorships, tee sponsorships, and prize donations. If you are interested in playing -- or know someone who might play or sponsor -- please contact Angelyn Sotirakos at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 401-780-2560.


Providence FGA




PCHC Atwood now open!

PCHC Atwood now open!


With a focus on improving health outcomes and access to care, Providence Community Health Centers (PCHC) held a ribbon cutting ceremony on February 28th for its newest health center – PCHC Atwood. The health center, located at 31 Atwood Street in Providence, will officially open to patients on March 1st.

Sen. Jack Reed, Gov. Daniel McKee, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza were part of the speaking program along with PCHC President and CEO Merrill Thomas and Dr. Karen Ng, who has cared for patients at PCHC’s other Olneyville health center for more than 20 years.

PCHC Atwood is designed to meet the daily health needs of residents from the culturally diverse neighborhoods of Olneyville, Hartford Park, Silver Lake, and surrounding areas. Once fully operational, PCHC Atwood will become the new medical home to 14,000 patients annually. This is in addition to the 60,000 people PCHC already cares for as the state’s largest health center.

“This $15 million investment will help address disparities that negatively impact the health of thousands in this community,” said Merrill Thomas, President and CEO of PCHC. “Over the past 54 years, our organization has continually evolved to meet the needs of underserved people. PCHC Atwood is the latest step in that journey.”

The decision to build a health center in this location was driven by a board-led strategic plan and market assessment that identified Olneyville as the neighborhood with some of the worst health outcomes and data in Providence in critical areas like prenatal care, low birth weight, and control of both blood pressure and diabetes.

The 26,600 square-feet state-of-the-art health center will be home to a variety of services including Adult Medicine, Family Medicine, Ob/Gyn, Pediatrics, Behavioral Health, Express Care, and Lab Services.

PCHC Atwood will also serve as an economic driver in the neighborhood by creating more than 50 new jobs including managers, physicians, mid-level clinical providers, case managers, administrative staff, and facilities personnel.

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President and CEO, Merrill Thomas

Op-ed by Merrill Thomas published in Providence Journal

On February 25, 2021, Merrill Thomas, President and CEO of Providence Community Health Centers, was featured on the opinion page of the Providence Journal with a submission entitled "Choosing to expand during the pandemic." It details how PCHC chose to grow over the past two years to serve the community despite the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic.

You can read the text of the op-ed below:

Choosing to expand during the Pandemic

When Maria Silva retired from Providence Community Health Centers (PCHC) at the end of 2021, she took with her 52 years of experience as a health aide. Maria joined our organization in 1969, four years after community health centers were founded as a national concept and just one year after we opened our doors in Providence. When she walked into our Fox Point health center as a teenager looking for an after-school job, Maria had no way of knowing we would grow into the state’s biggest health center, providing care for more than 60,000 people at eight health centers, two schools, and Crossroads Rhode Island.

Like every other health care provider, we have experienced wave after wave of change over the last two years. From opening the state’s first walk-up and drive through COVID testing site to hosting more than 60 community vaccine clinics over the last six months, PCHC has been on the front lines of the state’s response to the COVID pandemic. Thanks to our dedicated employees, we kept our doors open and were able to provide care to people in need.

As an organization, we were faced with some difficult decisions. Two years ago, plans were in place to start construction of a new health center in the Olneyville section of Providence, a neighborhood with some of the worst health outcomes and indicators in the state. We were also planning to expand an existing health center in the Smith Hill area and open a dedicated clinic for people who have multiple chronic and behavioral conditions.

The need in the community for additional services was real. The question arose as to whether we could pursue such an undertaking during an unprecedented and ever-evolving health crisis. For our Board, leadership team, and me, the bigger question was: how could we not?

Despite the uncertainty, we chose to grow to meet the need.

On February 28th, we will hold a ribbon-cutting for a new 26,600 square-foot state-of-the-art health center called PCHC Atwood in the Olneyville section of Providence. This new site will complement our existing Olneyville health center and allow us to care for 14,000 new patients. PCHC Atwood will offer Adult Medicine, Family Medicine, Ob/Gyn, Pediatrics, Behavioral Health, Express Care, and Lab Services. It is a $15 million investment in the community that is creating 60 fair-wage jobs. The same month, we will complete renovations to our Capitol Hill health center, allowing 4,000 more people to access high-quality care in. Our clinic focused on patients with multiple chronic and behavioral health conditions -- called PCHC Connect at Eddy Street -- will also open later this year.

This type of growth might have been unthinkable to some during this escalating health crisis. For us, it is the next step in our 54-year commitment to building a healthier Rhode Island. It is not an easy task, but it is a critical one when it comes to ensuring our community can grow and thrive. Just ask Maria Silva -- who cared for patients and then their children and grandchildren for more than a half-century -- the difference PCHC can make one person at a time.

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New Dentists Join PCHC Team

New Dentists Join PCHC Team

Providence Community Health Centers is pleased to welcome three dentists to our team: Dr. Sanika Shah, and Dr. Asif Rangoonwala, and Dr. Steven Lowe.

Dr. Lowe received his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Maryland. Prior to his most recent position as Dental Program Manager for the Oneida Indian Nation in Oneida, NY, he worked as an associate dentist at Bright Now Dental in VA, Spector Family Dental in MD, and Family First Health, a federally qualified health center in PA.

Prior to joining PCHC, Dr. Shah worked as an associate dentist at Dr. Dental in Billerica, MA, and Mother Teresa Memorial Charitable Dental Hospital in India. She received her Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. She received her Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree from University of KLE VK Institute of Dental Sciences.

Dr. Rangoonwala received his degree as a Doctor of Dental Medicine from Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Medicine. He received a Master of Dental Surgery in Prosthodontics from SDM College of Dental Services in India. He also received a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Nair Hospital Dental College in India. Dr. Rangoonwala most recently worked as an associate dentist at Dental Dreams, LLC, in Lawrence, MA.

Learn more about our dental services here: https://www.providencechc.org/services/dental-services


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Jenna Severance

Jenna Severance, RN, recognized with Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses

Jenna Severance, RN, who has been at our Capitol Hill health center since joining Providence Community Health Centers in 2019, is the latest winner of the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses. Jenna was recognized at a surprise ceremony on January 25th. The Daisy Award is a national program started by a family that wanted to recognize the great nursing care their loved one received. Jenna started at PCHC in Family Medicine and transitioned to Pediatrics -- what she calls her “real love and passion” -- in October 2020.

“My favorite part of nursing at PCHC is the connections I make with patients and their parents and families,” said Jenna. “I especially love working in pediatrics because I get to watch my patients grow and go through milestones. It’s really rewarding working with such a diverse community. I also feel very lucky to have an amazing group of co-workers around me. They have become a part of my family and are what get me through some of the harder days.” 


DAISY Award recipients are registered nurses who exemplify the following nursing values: extraordinary compassion, courage, and integrity. These individuals consistently demonstrate excellence in the delivery of patient care and promotion of their professional nursing practice. As the winner, Jenna received a beautifully handcrafted statue called “The Healer’s Touch” which symbolizes the relationship between nurses, patients, and families, a framed certificate, and a check.

Dr. Beth Toolan, physician site lead at Capitol Hill and Chairperson of the Department of Pediatrics, praised Jenna’s patience, kindness, and skills as nurse. “No matter how many patients are waiting for her for vaccines, on the phone, and in the waiting room, she routinely talks to them kindly and patiently,” said Dr. Toolan. “I have never seen her be short with a patient, despite working alone in two clinics for the past month and a half. She engages with pediatric patients in a way that makes them comfortable and alleviates their fears.”

Jenna is pictured here in the center with (from left to right) Dr. Beth Toolan, President & CEO Merrill Thomas, Capitol Hill health center director Patricia Terceira, and Dr. Nadine Hewamudalige, Medical Director. 


Providence Jenna



Maria Silva

Maria Silva retiring after 52 years of service; started with PCHC as a teenager

1972 PCHC irene viera maria silva jack fittro
Maria is pictured in the middle of this 1972 photo with Irene Viera and Jack Fittro.

Maria Silva started work as a health aide in 1969, the year after Providence Community Health Centers opened its doors. PCHC’s Fox Point health center was located just blocks from Maria’s home. She was a 16 year old student looking for an after school job. Maria walked in and applied, not realizing that she would spend more than 50 years with the same organization, caring for patients and then their children and grandchildren.

“It’s the only job I’ve had my whole life,” says Maria, who will be retiring at the end of this year after 52 years with PCHC.

At Fox Point, she was trained on the job. It was a small team – one doctor, one nurse, and one health center assistant. Maria’s family moved to Rhode Island from Portugal just three years earlier so she became the translator for patients who spoke Portuguese. (She later learned to speak Creole and some Spanish.) The Fox Point center was open from 1 p.m.-9 p.m. weekdays and Maria worked after school. “I was taught to do everything … work the front desk, register patients, draw blood,” she recalls.

Maria eventually married and her two children both became PCHC patients. “We prided ourselves on the health care we delivered so why would I bring them to a private doctor?” she asks.

Maria when an obstetrics room at Chafee was named in her honor on the occasion
Maria is pictured in 2019 when an obstetrics room at Chafee was named
in her honor on the occasion of her 50th anniversary of service with PCHC.

As more patients came to Fox Point, the need for space grew. The center moved to a new location off Allens Avenue and it was here at Chafee Health Center that Maria worked for the rest of her career. Although she is retiring, Maria will stay connected to the center and continue to work with the community. She will also be spending time with her first grandchild, born in October of this year. As she reflects back on the thousands of patients she has cared for, Maria says, “What has been most satisfying is helping patients from different walks of life.”

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