Farewell, But Not Goodbye: A Personal Thank You to the Community from Manny Lopes

Special to the Times

Manny Lopes, who has in many ways become the face of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC), will officially leave the Health Center Friday to become Executive Vice President of Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts.

Lopes took over the helm as CEO of EBNHC after his mentor Jack Cradock retired in 2012. Lopes has served as CEO of the Health Center since then and as its president since 2015.

Outgoing CEO Manny Lopes with some of EBNHC’s staff shown in the lobby of their health center in Eastie.

Lopes has also served as Director of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Board as well as Chair of the Blue Cross Foundation.  In 2018, Lopes was appointed as the Chair of Boston’s Board of Health.

Lopes grew up in East Boston and now lives in Topsfield with his wife and children.

After nearly three decades at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, I have made the difficult decision to embark on the next chapter in my professional life. On November 1st, I will join Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts as Executive Vice President of Public Markets and Government Relations, continuing my fight for equitable access to health care for our community as well as all Massachusetts residents.

While my new role means saying farewell to the health center, my ties to the community are unbreakable. Eastie born and raised, this region is part of who I am. I’m deeply grateful to the many community members who have supported me during my leadership of the health center: residents, patients, EBNHC’s Board of Directors, staff, friends, and family. I thank every member of our vibrant community for making these years so full of meaning, purpose, and growth. I can’t imagine having travelled a different path. It has been an honor.

Over the last nine years as President & CEO, I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants like EBNHC former leaders, Jim Taylor and Jack Cradock, who, with the Board of Directors and our staff, built the health center from the ground up – turning a small community clinic into a recognizable force in local healthcare.

Looking back, I feel blessed to have inherited a strong and successful organization. The health center already had 40 years of innovation and impact under its belt when I became CEO in 2012. Thanks to Jack, Jim, and the Board of Directors, EBNHC was one of the first organizations to bring the PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) model to Massachusetts; in 1997, the health center was an early adopter of a little known electronic tool for managing patient care – Epic – which has now become the gold standard for electronic medical records nationwide; and EBNHC leveraged experience piloting new programs to found CATCH (Children’s Access to Coordinated Health Care) for children with multiple disabilities and Project Shine for patients living with HIV.

This is only a short preview of EBNHC’s long and illustrious history in the community – a legacy that was turned over to me, just a kid from East Boston, nearly a decade ago.

Now, as the organization enters into another time of transition, I’d like to take the opportunity to reflect on what we’ve accomplished together as a health center and as a community over the last ten years. The positive impact is astounding.

We have expanded services to reach more than 120,000 patients across the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable communities – solidifying access to equitable and inclusive care and consistently exceeding industry benchmarks in key areas of patient satisfaction.

Our Neighborhood PACE program has grown to over 700 members – more than doubling in size since 2012 – and now boasts patient satisfaction rates of 95%, ensuring that more of our older adults can age in place, in the community, all while receiving superior care.

We have made it our mission to hire from the community and build an engaged workforce, winning 7 Boston Globe Top Place to Work awards in the last 8 years.

We have cut the ribbon on two new, state-of-the-art buildings while creating partnerships in our communities to ensure we can meet people where they are.

We are co-founders of the Commonwealth’s largest Medicaid Accountable Care Organization, Community Care Cooperative, and established Advocates for Community Health, a new national advocacy organization for innovative health centers focused on equity and impact.

We fought back against COVID-19 – together distributing key information, supporting residents in need, and providing critical services to help stop the spread. To date, EBNHC has processed more than 160,000 COVID-19 tests and administered over 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine – with East Boston, Chelsea, and Revere boasting the highest rates of Latinx vaccination in the Commonwealth.

Perhaps most importantly, we never shut our doors, offering care 24/7/365, even at the height of the initial COVID-19 surge.

Above all else, we’ve approached each day with compassion, respect, and an unwavering commitment to ensuring that all are welcome at the health center and in the communities we serve.

Directly or indirectly, many in our neighborhoods have contributed to these successes. I thank you for your many years of support and partnership. My promise to you is that this work is not done. I will continue to advocate for our community and the health center remains strong and steadfast in its mission. You are in good hands.

I’m fiercely proud of what we have accomplished together and look forward to watching the next decade of progress from just across the harbor.

Thank you for everything, and be well.

Manny Lopes

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