Awardees will be honored for innovations that enhance substance abuse treatment,
community fitness, and workplace wellness

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Dr. Paula Johnson, Chair of the Board of the Boston Public Health Commission, will honor recipients of the 2013 Mayoral Prize for Innovations in Primary Care at a reception tonight. The annual celebration, now in its fourth year, raises awareness about best practices for improving the delivery of primary care services in health care, community-based, and workplace settings. The event is being hosted by the Boston University School of Medicine at the Hiebert Lounge, 715 Albany Street, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“Five years ago we convened a task force of leaders from health care, academia, and the community to create a roadmap for improving Boston’s primary care system, and I couldn’t be more proud of the successes we’ve had since then,” Mayor Menino said. “Access to affordable health care is a hot button issue these days, but Boston will continue to be a model for other cities thanks to innovative efforts like those of our award winners.”

This year’s awardees are being honored for a variety of primary care innovations that range from improving access to addictions treatment to promoting fitness for low-income women and children and encouraging employee wellness in the workplace.

Boston Medical Center’s Office-Based Opioid Treatment program (OBOT) will receive the Mayoral Prize for Innovations in Primary Care in a healthcare setting for expanding access to addictions treatment. BMC’s OBOT, the largest such program in New England, provides medication-assisted treatment integrated into primary care and targets underserved hard-to-reach patients in a setting that also reduces the social stigma associated with substance abuse treatment.

Boston Medical Center’s model, which relies on physician-supervised nurse care managers, has dramatically improved access to addictions treatment. Within a year of opening, the hospital eliminated a treatment waiting list that exceeded 300 patients. Patients can now access treatment within 1-4 weeks of their first contact. OBOT is also available to all patients of Boston Medical regardless of their ability to pay.

Healthworks Community Fitness will be recognized with the Mayoral Prize for Innovations in Primary Care in a community-based setting. The nationally-recognized non-profit fitness and health education center for women and children operates from two locations in Dorchester and serves over 1,500 members annually. The fitness provider collaborates with primary care physicians that “prescribe” exercise to patients as part of their chronic disease self-management plan. The prescriptions are then “filled” by Healthworks in the form of a free trial membership for a given patient at one of its centers.

Client-centered offerings, such as the child-focused Fitspiration program, help to engage underserved women and children by making exercise fun and less intimidating. Many patients choose to continue using Healthworks Community Fitness after their free trial membership ends because of the affordability of regular memberships. Over half of members reported losing weight and feeling more energetic and relaxed as a result of the programs.

The Mayoral Prize for Innovations in Primary Care in a workplace setting will be presented to Bowdoin Street Health Center for developing a diverse, culturally competent wellness program for its employees. Created in partnership with the Mayor’s Boston Moves for Health initiative and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Bowdoin Street Workplace Wellness Challenge was a 10-week program to help motivate employees to improve their health at work. 89% of staff participated by choosing health and wellness challenges to suit their individual needs and engaged in health activities throughout the work day.

Participants in the challenge could track and monitor their progress towards personal fitness goals by using an online tool, and weekly interactive newsletters updated staff about fitness opportunities for the coming week. Ultimately, the staff was more prepared to educate and model healthy lifestyles for health center patients, demonstrating that in a supportive setting, everyone can achieve optimal wellness.

On top of the innovations that will be recognized tonight, a new report will be available that details the robust access to primary care services that Boston’s community health centers offer. 90 percent of health centers are open more than two evenings per week for adult and pediatric urgent care, for example, and a similar percentage offer urgent care during weekend hours. 95 percent can provide appointments to patients that are sick within 24 hours, and every center offers 24-hour phone consultations with a clinician. The vast majority of health centers are accepting new adult and pediatric patients immediately, with very few having a waiting list.

While access to primary care at health centers is extensive across Boston, half of the centers report that mental health and dental health services are more limited and often restricted to existing patients. The survey was conducted through the Mayor’s NeighborCare initiative, an effort to reduce unnecessary traffic to hospital emergency departments by highlighting community health centers as a resource for excellent preventive care.

To learn about previous winners of the Mayoral Prize for Innovations in Primary Care, visit http://www.bphc.org/Pages/MayoralPrize2013.aspx.

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