A health care leader from the grassroots

Community health centers often have a strong grassroots connection to the neighborhoods they serve. But no center may proclaim that more loudly through its leadership than the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. Its president and CEO, Manny Lopes, is a native son of Eastie whose first job after high school was as an 18-year-old field researcher at the nonprofit health care center.

He now not only leads the neighborhood health center, he’s emerging as an important health care leader in the city and state. In December, Lopes was named chair of the city’s Board of a Health, which oversees the Boston Public Health Commission, and he also serves as chairman of new collaboration among 17 health centers statewide that is part of a big state Medicaid initiative that is trying to deliver better quality care at lower price.

Lopes, appearing on the latest episode of the “Health or Consequences” Codcast, said the Medicaid effort to test the impact of “accountable care organizations” is promising, but still unproven. “We’re still waiting for the data and we’re still early in the process,” he told hosts John McDonough of the Harvard Chan School of Public Health and Paul Hattis of the Tufts School of Medicine.

While the cost data from the project are eagerly anticipated, Lopes said, anecdotally, it appears that patients are getting more comprehensive services, and he has no doubt that the approach taken by accountable care organizations — to consider more broadly issues affecting patient health, such as housing and food and nutrition — is the right thing to do for patient well-being. That approach, he said, is embedded in the very concept of community health centers, now a staple of many low-income communities nationwide, but a model that got its start in Boston 50 years ago.

“From many respects, this is what we’ve been set up to do, and now we have greater resources to do that work,” he said.

Lopes, who is Cape Verdean, said race issues are always present in his mind as he navigates the largely white world of health care leaders in the city and state. “It is a challenge every day,” he said. “You walk into many settings and you are the only one in many cases.” He said it drives him to perform “at the highest level” because he’s always aware “there may be individuals who are doubting your capabilities.”

At the same time, he said he tries to use his role to help other people of color in the field. “You have a great opportunity to bring on the next generation of leaders and to be an individual of influence and to try to help that next person of color access the opportunities that I’ve been able to access,” Lopes said.

While Massachusetts rightly can take some pride in its very high health care coverage rates compared with many states, Lopes said there’s plenty of work still to be done here.

“I’m hoping I’ll see it in my lifetime where not only coverage but access and equal health care will be delivered in the way we would want for ourselves, our children, our parents — and regardless of age, culture, language, that everyone receives the same level care,” he said. “But absolutely,  we do have still challenges here in Massachusetts.”

MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

The public row between the Baker administration and Suffolk district attorney Rachael Rollins continued on Sunday, as Rollins told a roomful of supporters that men who previously held her position were treated with more respect and she ripped Gov. Charlie Baker and his public safety secretary, Thomas Turco, for not calling her before releasing a letter from Turco critical of her policies. The rally for Rollins came the day after she told Globe columnist Adrian Walker that Baker called her, they had a good conversation, “and I have nothing further to say about the matter.” (Boston Globe)

Matthew Malone, the superintendent of the Fall River school system, tells Beacon Hill to do the right thing and fund education properly. (CommonWealth)

Rep. Lori Ehrlich and Sen. Brendan Crighton say local news is disappearing and state government needs to do something about it. (CommonWealth)

The state is facing a huge shortage of foster homes, a situation that can leave state social workers in a bind when they make emergency removals of children from troubled homes. (Boston Globe)

Some big pay bumps at Massport. (Boston Herald)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Email correspondence shows a small but politically powerful group of religious conservatives have leverage over the Worcester Public Schools, particularly when it comes to sex education policy. (Worcester Magazine) Telegram & Gazette columnist Clive McFarlane didn’t mince words in saying what he thought of the moves.

Fake news alert: The Sunday Globe ran a front-page story on an afterlife-obsessed 19th century Wilmington woman who, according to an employee at the local Market Basket, looks a lot like the ghost she saw recently in the store.

The towns of Dennis, Harwich, and Yarmouth are working to establish the DHY Clean Waters Community Partnership, which would take a phased approach to the construction of a system that would treat wastewater from each town at a central facility in South Dennis. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Claiming to have “resisted politics,” US House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal said his official request for President Trump’s tax returns is “not motivated by malevolence” and not related to the special counsel investigation, but Republicans see it as a political maneuver. (WGBH) CommonWealth recently profiled the Springfield pol, a low-key congressional veteran whose big moment on the stage has arrived.

Polish general Casimir Pulaski, a Revolutionary War hero and the namesake of Pulaski Park in Northampton, may have been female, according to an upcoming Smithsonian Channel documentary. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

ELECTIONS

Can Elizabeth Warren break through the Democratic pack with a detailed menu of policy positions? (Washington Post)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The state’s underground marijuana sales business is booming, the Herald reports, as lower prices and the limited number of retail stores now open keep customers going to black market dealers.

EDUCATION

Hampshire College president Miriam Nelson resigned on Friday and the school’s trustees shelved the idea of merging with another school, saying they’ll pursue remaining independent despite tough fiscal realities. (CommonWealth)

A Globe editorial says reforms, not just more money, need to be part of any big education funding bill passed by the Legislature.

A major effort to improve outcomes at a school in Milwaukee foundered because of something no one thought of — student turnover. (Journal Sentinel)

Maximilian Carbone, a student at Wentworth Institute of Technology, is found dead after leaving a party. Police say the death is not suspicious. (MassLive)

Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy, author of a 2002 book titled Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, rips Cambridge school officials for going after a white high school teacher who uttered the “n-word” as part of a discussion on a project on racial slurs that a black teacher at the school developed that used the word in its title. (Boston Globe)

Five staff including Principal John DePolo have been put on leave from the Haverhill Alternative School, a program for students with social and emotional disabilities, pending an investigation by the Department of Children and Families. School district officials alerted the agency about how staff intervened with a student “who was in an escalated state.”

Should public higher education be free? Even liberals can’t agree. (Washington Post)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Companies are offering incentives for employees to shop around and obtain health care services at lower-cost facilities. (Boston Globe)

Dr. Kimberly Blumenthal, a drug allergy researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, found a “big disconnect” between the number of people who report an allergy to penicillin and the much smaller number who actually have it. (WGBH)

ARTS/CULTURE

Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow talks about what it’s like to be a script consultant for the HBO political satire Veep, which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus. (Commonwealth)

TRANSPORTATION

Uber doesn’t want to be kicked from the curb at Logan International Airport, setting the stage for a clash with Massport. (CommonWealth)

Legislators with the Worcester Line Working Group send a letter to Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito outlining improvements needed on the line, including more frequent service, better WiFi, a raised platforms. (MetroWest Daily News)

At the Daily Item in Lynn, staffers compete to see which is quicker — driving or taking commuter rail from Boston. Commuter rail won, but barely.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Union leader Tom Andrews says gas hookup moratoriums are not good for anyone. (CommonWealth)

While NOAA Fisheries tries to finish developing its rules for the fishing year that starts May 1, the ban on recreational cod fishing will remain in place. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Vineyard Wind says it will adopt research measures recommended by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to monitor the effects on fisheries of the 84-turbine offshore wind farm. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A 74-year-old grandmother was the innocent victim of gunfire in Mattapan, killed in a shooting that erupted on a residential street at about 5 p.m. on Saturday. (Boston Herald)

The owner of M&M Seafood is suing the city of Brockton and seven of its police officers over claims of civil rights violations and injuries – several broken ribs – that resulted from a “false arrest” on Christmas Day 2015. (Brockton Enterprise)

MEDIA

At the Cleveland Plain Dealer, one of the reporters who was part of the recent layoff wrote the story himself. He does a Q&A with the New Yorker.

John Henry, the owner of the Boston Globe and the Boston Red Sox, cuts the sales price of his Florida mansion from $25 million to $15 million. (Boston Business Journal)