Senator Whitehouse Visits Wood River Health

April 06, 2023

Senator Whitehouse Tours Wood River Health

Hope Valley, RI (MARCH 30, 2023) – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse visited Wood River Health on Monday, March 27, 2023 to meet with representatives of its Board of Directors and its leadership team and members of the local community.

Pictured above, from left to right:

Sarah Channing, Director of Development and Communications
Susan Brough, Board Member
Melissa Davy, Assistant Manager, Town of Westerly
Shawn Lacey, Manager, Town of Westerly
Dr. Jonathan Gates, Chief Medical Director
Sheldon Whitehouse, RI State Senator
Alison Croke, President and CEO
Regan Pennypacker, Board Chair
Frank Hopkins, Board Member
Christine Bedoya, Board Member

During the meeting, Senator Whitehouse inquired about the recent accomplishments of Wood River Health, which serves as the largest outpatient primary care provider in southern Rhode Island. A lively discussion ensued about health care and how to overcome barriers to access.

Discussion topics included the current challenges in delivering medical, dental and behavioral health care in a rural setting; the importance of equalizing health care reimbursement rates; the benefits of delivering a value-based system of care, the rise in popularity of telehealth, and the increase of behavioral health symptoms in patients as a direct result of COVID-19.

“Throughout the pandemic, community health centers have served as a lifeline for thousands of Rhode Islanders,” stated Alison L. Croke, President and CEO of Wood River Health. “We are grateful to Senator Whitehouse for his ongoing support of their mission to increase access to high-quality healthcare, often for underserved communities.”

Attendees included Board Chair Regan Pennypacker and Board Members Christine Bedoya, Susan Brough, Francis Hinteregger, MD, and Frank Hopkins. Representatives of Wood River Health’s leadership included President and CEO Alison L. Croke; Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Gates, MD; Chief Dental Officer Tiffanie Waldeck, DMD; and Director of Development and Communications Sarah Channing.

Local members of the community included Shawn Lacey, Manager of the Town of Westerly; Melissa Davy, Assistant Manager of the Town of Westerly, and Elena Nicolella, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Center Association.

During his visit, Senator Whitehouse participated in a hard hat tour of Wood River Health’s 9,000 square foot expansion that is under construction by A/Z Corporation. In 2022, Wood River Health partnered with Vision 3 Architects to develop a state-of-the-art facility that will enable it to expand its programs and services, increase its patient capacity, and foster an environment that is reflective of the high-quality health care services it delivers.

Construction of Wood River Health’s new facility remains on time and on budget. It is expected to be completed in September 2023. Individuals may visit to see progress photos of the construction, which are updated on a weekly basis.

About Wood River Health

Since 1976, Wood River Health has delivered medical, dental and social services to the communities of southwestern Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut. Its mission is to provide its patients with high-quality and affordable health care services through a compassionate, team-based approach. Its vision is for every member of its community to experience physical, emotional and social well-being.

A private, non-profit Community Health Center, Wood River Health is devoted to providing quality patient care to over 8,600 patients. It is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Patient-Centered Medical Home. As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), Wood River Health receives funds from the HRSA Health Center Program to provide primary care services in underserved areas.