Welcome! Login | Register

Subscribe Now: Free Daily EBlast


RI PowerPlayer: Dr. Michael Fine

Monday, March 03, 2014


HEALTH Director, Dr. Michael Fine

Each week, GoLocal shines the spotlight on one individual who is making an impact on Rhode Island. This week, GoLocal sat down Dr. Michael Fine, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH), about the major challenges -- and opportunities -- currently facing Rhode Island.  

You gave your first State of the State this week. In recent years, what have been the major changes you’ve seen in health issues –and concerns--facing Rhode Islanders?

The economy! And not enough pride in our strong communities, which is what is unique about Rhode Island. In order for there to be optimal health, and equal life chances for all Rhode Islanders, we need to have healthy functional families and communities made up of people who take care of one another, and who participate in the democratic process. We have an immediate serious concern about drug and alcohol addiction and drug overdose death that we need to come together to address right away.

Where do you see the opportunities for the State to achieve gains in public health?

Our most significant opportunities are to eliminate smoking, and develop a system of primary care practices that provide all Rhode Islanders, and all Rhode Island communities, with world class primary care. Getting world class primary care to all Rhode Islanders will allow us to improve the public’s health while reducing medical care cost, which in turn will allow us to invest in education, safe and healthy housing, the environment and safe streets, which turn out to be the things that matter most for health. Our other “opportunities” (though emergency is a better word) is addressing drug overdose death. We also can and should be the first state in the nation to end new cases of HIV, which is what our Getting to Zero campaign is working hard at.

What are the biggest challenges facing Rhode Island in making these possible?

First, the imagination. We’ve never seen a health care system (what we have is best described as a wealth extraction system) so it’s hard to imagine one; and without being able to imagine a health care system, it’s hard to advocate for one. The second major challenge is the enmeshed interests who profit from things as they are and are trying very hard to prevent change –tobacco companies, pharmaceutical companies, industrial food producers, even health care facilities and health professionals. Change is hard. But the status quo has completely failed. Our medical wealth extraction system is draining the state and nation dry, and making optimal health for all impossible.

What would you like Rhode Islanders to know, in terms of resources at HEALTH, that they should take advantage of?

We have the most mission-driven organization in Rhode Island – 450 people and hundreds of volunteers, totally focused on protecting the health and safety of Rhode Islanders. Rhode Islanders should call us or come to our website first, whenever they have a health related question, a concern about a health professional’s practice, a worry about the safety of a health care facility, or the safety of their food or water. We speak English and Spanish as well as many other languages.

What would you like to know from the gubernatorial candidates?

What is their plan to reduce the cost of health insurance in Rhode Island by 30 percent or more, and use affordable health insurance as a driver for our economy?

Tell us something nobody knows about you.

I cut wood and write fiction on weekends. I’ve had a beard since I was 19. I like to ride old Hondas on back country roads, and yes, I wear a helmet.

Role model?

Martin Luther King; Jack Geiger, MD; Bernard Lown, MD; Governor Lucius Garvin, MD; Jack Cunningham, MD; and Moses, not necessarily in that order.

Favorite book?

War and Peace. Really, I reread it every few years.

Best place to eat in Rhode Island?

Cindy’s Diner in Scituate. Bob and Timmy’s on Federal Hill.

If you weren’t Director of HEALTH, what would you be?

Writing fiction in Venice or in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, and/or practicing medicine part time in a Neighborhood Health Station, the VA or the ACI.

How do you go about staying healthy?

I cut, haul and bring in 15 cords of wood a year. I’m outside ½ an hour to an hour every day and 10 – 12 hours on weekends. I drink water from a glass, and try to avoid simple carbohydrates in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables, but I’m a stress eater and not as good as I’d like to be. When I’m not working 11 hour days I like to fast a day or two a week.




Related Slideshow: 13 Biggest Healthcare Stories in RI in 2013

The most import stories from one of the most historic years in memory for Rhode Island healthcare.

Prev Next

13 Doctors Behaving Badly

Rhode Island Doctors Behaving Badly

Doctors, having professed in their professional lives to "do no harm," are typically looked at in their personal lives as upstanding citizens.  But 2013 proved that not all doctors are cut from the same cloth.

With charges ranging from unprofessional behavior in the office to giving morphine to babies to breaking into a residence without permission at 3 in the morning and being in possession of marijuana, this breakdown of reprimanded doctors in 2013 is simply a must see. 

Click here for a slideshow of all the stories.

Prev Next

12 Staying Healthy + Fit

10 Ways To Stay Healthy + Fit This Summer—Miriam Experts

Summer brings soaring temperatures, family cookouts and tempting warm-weather treats like ice cream and margaritas, and can easily sabotage your fitness and diet plans. That’s why leading nutrition and exercise experts at The Miriam Hospital shared their timeless top tips for staying fit and eating healthy while still having fun in the sun.

Summer fitness never goes out of style. Click here for tips you can use every year to maintain that beach body!

Prev Next

11 Well-Being Index

How Happy Is Rhode Island—Latest Gallup Well-Being Index

Rhode Island may need an attitude adjustment, according to the latest Well-Being Index numbers from Gallup-Healthways. The state's latest ranking for happiness is #37 in the nation, a drop of 2 spots from last year. And that ranking was a drop from the year before.

Click here for the full breakdown.

Prev Next

10 Retail Insurance

Smart Benefits: Health Insurers Go Retail

Healthcare reform has brought about lots of changes to the procurement of individual and family plans. Now, when you head to the mall, you'll be able to buy health insurance in addition to shopping for clothes. In a move that continues to gain steady momentum, leading health insurers across the country are opening retail stores to cater to individuals who now have to purchase health insurance on their own because of healthcare reform.

To see which insurer has already opened up a retail outlet in RI, click here.

Prev Next

9 A Healthier You in 2013

13 Ways To Be Healthier in RI in 2013

As we embarked on 2013,  Rhode Island's Director of Health, Michael Fine, MD, encouraged Rhode Islanders to make health and wellness a priority in the new year. Check out the 13 steps he recommended Rhode Islanders take to get and stay well in the new year. Whether you stuck to them or not in 2013, we find ourselves at another time for goal-setting and resolutions. Brush up on your healthy living and put your knowledge to good use in 2014!

Click here for the tips!

Prev Next

8 RI’s Sexual Health

Rhode Island’s Sexual Health Worst In New England—New Ranking

Rhode Island's abysmal showing in the 2013 Sexual Health Rankings landed them at last place in New England.

The first-ever assessment of state-by-state data on 26 comprehensive health and services measures that speak to sexual health put the Ocean State at #19 overall in the US, and #6 among New England states. 

Click here for our full coverage of our study.

Prev Next

7 Deloitte's Big Contract

Deloitte Awarded $105 Million Contract to Create New Healthcare System

Last January, Governor Lincoln Chafee announced that the State had awarded a $105 million contract to Deloitte Consulting to create the technology infrastructure to modernize the way the state administers Medicaid and other human service programs, and, most importantly, to create Rhode Island’s Health Benefits Exchange in compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Do you think Deloitte was the right choice? Read on for a breakdown of why Deloitte was chosen and the outlook on the exchange - who's rollout was not without its hiccups - while it was in just the conception phase.

Click here for our coverage of the announcement.

Prev Next

6 Non-Profit Hospital CEO

Rhode Island Non-Profit Hospital CEOs Criticized For Big Paychecks

The American healthcare system may be quite deathly ill. But the paychecks CEOs of Rhode Island non-profit hospitals are quite healthy.

Because of the trend of for-profit chains buying non-profit hospitals, which has swept the nation over the last decade or so, only eight non-profit hospital groups remain in the Ocean State. Together, they control a total of 11 hospitals.

And you won't believe how handsomely the CEOs of these hospitals are paid.

Click here for the full breakdown.

Prev Next

5 Healthiest Counties

Rankings: Where the Healthiest Rhode Islanders Live

Where do the healthiest residents in Rhode Island live? According to 2013 rankings by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a national foundation focused on improving public health, Bristol County took top honors -- while Providence County was the bottom of the list of the five counties in the state.

Click here to get the full story.

Prev Next

4 Health Exchange Rebrand

Rhode Island’s First Health Benefits Exchange Launches

In July, The Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange announced a number of important updates and initiatives – including a new name and the creation of 70-100 new jobs – in preparation to enroll Rhode Islanders in quality affordable health insurance plans starting on October 1, 2013.

Dubbing the Health Exchange HealthSource RI and announcing the state's new contact center in Providence, the exchange announced it would employ 70-100 Rhode Islanders when fully operational who would be accessible to  individuals and small employers to talk in-person or over the phone with engagement specialists who would provide personalized assistance in finding, comparing, and purchasing health insurance options available through HealthSource RI. 

Click here to read more about the announcement.

Prev Next

3 Heart Health

RI’s Go Red Day 2013: 10 Ways Women Can Keep Their Hearts Healthy

According to the AHA, nearly half of American women do not know that heart disease is their No. 1 killer, and less than half know the best blood pressure and cholesterol levels for cardiovascular health. Making red visible on Mondays could help sound the alarm and keep heart health ever present in the lives of American women.

Click here for 10 ways women can keep their hearts healthy.

Prev Next

2 Health Exchange Launch

Healthsource RI Announces Health Benefits Exchange Rates

In late August, HealthSource RI announced the plans and rates that were to be offered through the state's health benefits exchange when open enrollment began on October 1 for individuals and small businesses. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, United HealthCare, and Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island all signed on to offer 28 plans through the exchange.

The exchange launched on October 1st with no shortage of hiccups, but the launch was relatively smooth by comparison to those in states whose exchanges were facilitated federally. By November, the exchange had processed over 4500 applicants. And by December the New York Times noted that the RI exchange was the second-best performing in the country with enrollment exceeding target rates by a sizeable margin.

Click here for our coverage of the rate announcements.

Prev Next

1 Patients Rank Hospitals

New England’s Best Hospitals Rated By Patients

Traditionally, hospitals are rated and ranked on a combination of sound technical care, adequate resources, and impressive statistics. But an increasing emphasis is being placed on perhaps one of the more important measures: the patient’s perspective. With that in mind, GoLocal has sifted through and analyzed the results from a government-sponsored survey of more than 50,000 patients in 176 hospitals in New England (full chart here), and emerged with the first-ever patient-based ranking of the region’s top hospitals.

GoLocal consulted with patients, experts, and hospital administrators for their take to contextualize the rankings- click here to read the story.

Click here for the ranking of New England's Top 20 Hospitals


Related Articles


Enjoy this post? Share it with others.



Stay Connected — Free
Daily Email