DiscoverThe Rhode to Health: A Podcast from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island
The Rhode to Health: A Podcast from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island
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The Rhode to Health: A Podcast from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island

Author: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island

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Welcome to The Rhode to Health Podcast, a podcast series from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island focused on real Rhode Islanders who are making a difference in the health and wellness of communities across our state. Each episode, we’ll take you inside a health topic that affects Rhode Islanders with the hope of informing and empowering you to navigate the confusing but vitally important role of healthcare in your life.
100 Episodes
In the month that we celebrate our independence, we’re taking a moment to acknowledge the  folks who protect it. Today we're learning about Rhode Island’s veteran population by sitting down with an organization that protects their health and well-being in so many ways. Erik Wallen served as a United States Air Force Captain in the Department of the Judge Advocate General. Since 2011 he has served as the full-time executive director and general counsel for Operation Stand Down Rhode Island. The organization offers a wide range of life-changing services including supportive permanent and transitional housing, legal and VA benefit representation, intensive case management, basic human needs assistance and employment training programs. Erik sat down with us and discussed the many ways Operation Stand Down is  helping to support Rhode Island’s most vulnerable veterans.To learn more about Operation Stand Down Rhode Island go to healthy. Be Well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.
June is Pride month. Unfortunately, in social media, the news, and, scariest of all, in places that affect lives, livelihoods and the future of our underrepresented friends and neighbors, anti-LGBTQIA discourse is on the rise. And so now, more than ever, it's time to show up in ways that go beyond rainbow-washing and can help protect the health and wellness of a community that is so ingrained in the fabric of our state. This podcast is dedicated to making us all better allies. Joining us are members of Blue Cross's BluepRIde employee business resource group to discuss the challenges for the LGBTQIA+ community and the best way for allies to be genuinely helpful. Learn more about BCBSRI's Employee Business Resource Groups.For the past eight years, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has been working with healthcare providers to make that ally-ship measurable and visible through our Safe Zones program. Scott Gowrie, Safe Zone program lead, joins the latest cohort of providers to become Safe Zone certified as they reflect on what it means to create a safe space to seek medical care. Learn more about the Safe Zone program.And finally, we are joined by Elise Strom,  Jason Preciphs and Jodi Glass from Aldersbridge Communities. This organization has been providing services to older adults throughout Rhode Island ranging from long-term care to skilled nursing to independent and assisted living services for more than 50 years. They discuss their newest community, which is conceived to be LGBTQ friendly from the ground up, and  why the intersection of this population, aging and housing vulnerability make for an opportunity for ally-ship of the highest order. Learn about Aldersbridge Communities.You can find music and more information about the Candace Brooks Band at healthy. Be well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.
In this BACKRHODES episode, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island's own Aneesah Cameron shares a unique perspective on the intersection of Juneteenth and healthcare in the African American community. Aneesah sheds light on issues of trust and equity, reminding us that in order to look ahead and make progress, we must understand and acknowledge the past.Be healthy. Be well. And keep you're eyes on the Rhode.
We are continuing our year-long celebration of 20 Years of the BlueAngel Community Health grants with a Rhode Island institution that has been awarded the grant three times: Farm Fresh Rhode Island.Farm Fresh is also celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. In the past two decades, the organization has made it their mission to connect eaters with the locally and honestly produced foods and flavors  of our area. This work to make Rhode Island’s people and land healthier has required methods and actions that are at times both creative and surprising. We sat down with Farm Fresh’s Executive Director, Jesse Rye, and  talked about everything Farm Fresh is doing to cultivate the best possible farm to table experience.Lear more about Farm Fresh RI at Healthy. Be Well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.
May is mental health month and today’s episode was chosen by you, our listeners. We reached out on social media and you told us what you wanted to hear. So, we’re going to have an overview of the pediatric behavioral health crisis and how we’re responding. From Rosaly Cuevas, Manager of Behavioral Health Quality, Network and Policy; Sarah Fleury, Director of Behavioral Health; and back from the top of the show, Rena Sheehan, Vice President of Clinical Integration. We sit down for a round table discussion with Jenny Bautista-Ravreby, Amber Dicks, Shikenya Gough, Chante Foster, Marissa Rodrigues, and Scott Gowrie. Together, we talked about how their diverse backgrounds have played a significant role in how they each perceive the behavioral health space and how having these important conversations can shed light on the need for greater variety in approaches to care. Finally, we’ll talk with Dr. Eric B. Loucks, an Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Associate Professor of Medicine, and Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the Brown University School of Public Health, on the effectiveness of mindfulness and meditation on your overall health. Be healthy. Be well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode. 
We’re reflecting upon a segment from last May’s Rhode to Mental Health episode in which we discussed the state of Rhode Island’s behavioral health landscape and how its youth are being affected. In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, we sat down with guest Laurie DeLuca, a Substance Abuse Counselor at the Jim Gillen Teen Center, to talk about the roles both she and the larger organization are playing in helping teens beat substance dependency. For information about the Jim Gillen Teen Center, go to Be healthy. Be well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.
Today, we're breaking out our palettes and brushes as we paint a picture of creativity and the role it plays in your well-being. We sit down with an actor-turned-public servant, Joe Wilson Jr., Director of the Office of Art, Culture and Tourism for the city of Providence, to look into the future of a more well-creative capital. We talked to Mark Kravatz, interim Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Providence and East Bay, about a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to creatively build a new home. And we are visited by art therapy practitioners, Kristen Spencer and Maggie Veiga, from Lincoln's Social Sparks.Read the "PVDx2031" plan: PVDx2031: A Cultural Plan For Cultural ShiftLearn more about Habitat for Humanity of Greater Providence and East Bay and ways you can volunteer here.Find out more about Social Sparks.Eden Casteel is a singer/songwriter, piano player, livestreamer, and voice coach based in Wakefield, RI. You can learn more at heathy. Be well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.



We’re revisiting a segment from April 2022 in which we celebrated Earth Day by taking a trip to Southside Community Land Trust’s City Farm. There, we sat down with guests Jazandra Barros and Jake Stanton to discuss how they’re transforming city blocks into farm space. SCLT’s annual Plant Sale features thousands of vegetable, herb and fruit plants grown from seed (without chemicals) in their greenhouse, as well as hundreds of sought-after perennials. It takes place Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21, 2023, from 10 am to 2 pm, at City Farm in South Providence. Learn more here.Be healthy. Be Well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.
It’s Women’s History month. As March comes to a close, we’ll be talking about the issues, challenges and triumphs that affect women and their health. And once again I’ve called on some co-hosts to help me navigate these waters. We’ll hear from Kelly Nevins, CEO of Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, an organization investing in women and gender equity; talk about efforts to promote access to women’s mental health through PCPs and OBGYNs with Lifespan’s Maggie Bublitz; and sit down with with Liz Duggan, founder and executive director at Amenity Aid, a non-profit organization protecting vulnerable Rhode Islanders' dignity and menstrual health.You can learn more about Women's Fund of Rhode Island at explore the RI Women's Well-Being Index.Find out more about Women's Medicine Collaborative .Go to to learn how to help this amazing organization.You can find music and more information about the Candace Brooks Band at heathy. Be well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.
Last month on the Rhode to Health, we started our look back at twenty years of BlueAngel Community Health Grants (BACHG). Today, we hear from the first of our 2023 BACHG Grantees, Jonnycake Center for Hope. Join us to hear from Executive Director Kate Brewster about the ambitious new project Jonnycake has embarked on to address housing access in southern Rhode Island. Jonnycake has spent nearly 50 years serving Rhode Islanders. The Center has made a big step into housing and has begun to renovate three of the 15 to 19 units of service-enriched housing it plans to offer to local, low-income families experiencing unstable and/or unaffordable housing. Two BACHG grantees, including Jonnycake, were recently featured in the North Kingston Standard Times- you can read more about this work here. Learn more about Jonnycake Center for Hope and ways you can support their work here. To learn more about the BlueAngel Community Health grant go to us for more episodes in this series as we look back and forward on the impact of the BlueAngel Community health grant during a yearlong celebration. 
It's Black history month and we're exploring issues important to Rhode Island's African American community. We join a lively discussion with Blue Cross's Black Council @ Blue, as they discuss the state of health and wellness in their community. We hear from Kaitlyn Rabb of Rhode Island Kids Count as she talks about a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island funded brief entitled Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Maternal, Infant, and Young Children's Health in Rhode Island. And we’re joined by Ray Rickman, who heads an organization dedicated to protecting black history and healthy futures.  Read the Rhode Island Kids Count brief, funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Maternal, Infant, and Young Children's Health in Rhode Island. Learn more about Stages of FreedomPawtucket-based recording artist The Alona Decade provided our closing credit song, Keep on. Their music can be found on Apple Music and Spotify.Be Healthy. Be Well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.
It’s February, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and as kids are cutting out paper hearts in classrooms we’re going to talk about cutting out heart disease. We’re here promoting two amazing events, both associated with saving hearts and by extension saving lives. I’m speaking of course of the GoRed for Women luncheon on February 10 and the American Heart Association Heart walk on June 10, which you can sign up for now. My guests are two women well known in this fight. Martha Wofford is President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island (she’s also the Heart Walk Chair). Melissa Cummings has a long history with GoRed for Women and currently chairs the board of the Southern New England chapter of the American Heart Association. Learn more about the GoRed for Women Luncheon here.Sign up for the American Heart Association Heart Walk here.You can learn more about protecting your families' heart health here.Be healthy. Be well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.  
We’re having a birthday party as the BlueAngel Community Health Grant program turns 20 years old.Even if you’ve never heard of The BlueAngel Community Health Grant program, chances are someone you know has been touched by its funding – we’re talking about an annual, competitive grant program focused on addressing critical health issues in Rhode Island. The program achieves this by partnering with community–based agencies trying to improve the health of Rhode Islanders. This funding program is the cornerstone of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island’s community investment activities at BCBSRI, and they’re proud of the organizations they’ve worked with and the results achieved since it began 20 years ago. We’re joined by special guests Linda Newton and Carolyn Belisle. Linda is the former VP, Community Relations, Corporate Social Responsibility & Diversity, at Blue Cross and when she while she was in that role she both founded the program and hired our second special guest Carolyn Belisle. Carolyn is Managing Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode island.  The two worked together for many years before Linda's retirement.To learn more about the BlueAngel Community Health grant go to us for more episodes in this series as we look back and forward on the impact of the BlueAngel Community health grant during a year long celebration.
The start of a new year ushers in feelings of hope and motivates us all to become better versions of ourselves. In this episode of the Rhode to Health, our host, Mark Sheldon, and our guests discuss how to strengthen the resolve to build a better you physically, emotionally, and even as part of your community.For tips on how to improve our physical well-being, we were joined by Laura Beltz, a registered dietician who helps Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) members make healthy food choices at Your Blue Store. You’ll also hear from Robin Lussier – a Your Blue Store fitness coach and instructor who helps to keep our members moving all year long.Looking to improve your emotional well-being this year? In this episode, you’ll hear from John Davia, BCBSRI manager of well-being solutions, and Sarah Fleury, BCBSRI director of behavioral healthcare. John and Sarah gave us some self-care tips to incorporate into a daily routine.If you’ve resolved to get more involved in your community this year, listen to hear Jessica Barry, United Way of Rhode Island’s director of corporate relations, and Jennifer Remmes, director of resource operations, spotlight ways you can help your fellow Rhode Islanders. Learn more at in visiting a Your Blue Store near you? Click here to find our four locations across the state and click here to register for a fitness class or educational workshop.Our closing credits music is “For a Sunny Day” by John Davia and Bad Larry.Be healthy. Be well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.  
In this month’s BACKRHODES episode,  Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Care Manager Anna-Marie Folan details her journey of starting a family through fertility treatment with her wife. Delving further, she touches upon the barriers the couple faced throughout the process and how, despite these challenges, her desire to become a mother never wavered.Anna-Marie Folan shared her thoughts for members seeking to coordinate care, be it for fertility needs or any time care coordination is a challenge. "In care management we use an integrated health approach to provide members with a personal experience while empowering them to achieve their health goals. We offer comprehensive support to our members with complex medical and behavioral health issues by directing them to resources, education and tools. Our care managers work collaboratively with the member’s current healthcare team to help set and achieve personal health goals. The care management team includes experts such as registered nurses, dietitians, social workers, medical directors and health advocates, who work together to provide the member with assistance managing their health. This assistance can include navigating the healthcare system, collaborating with providers and helping members to access the care they need at the right time. Care management supports the mission of improving member health, the quality of healthcare services they receive and their overall satisfaction. You can reach a care manager by calling 401-459-2273 (CARE) or emailing"
The 4th annual RI Life Index launched on November 14. A presentation of the findings was followed by a conversation with RI Life Index Coalition members and other community leaders facilitated by Lifespan’s Vice President of Community, Health and Equity, Carrie Bridges Feliz. This episode features an excerpt from that conversation.
The Rhode to Gratitude

The Rhode to Gratitude


In this episode, we gather to count all our blessings as we pause to think about what it means to give thanks. We're joined by wellness expert Nicole Grace who will teach us to put words to our thankful thoughts in a gratitude journal. We'll visit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and talk to Lisa Roth Blackman, the Food Bank's chief philanthropy officer, about gratitude in the form of altruism. And we'll speak to Melissa Cummings, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island executive vice president and chief customer officer, about a wellness program that incorporates gratitude as one of its pillars of health.Donations to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank can be made at about Take 5 for You can be found on information about Nicole Grace and Cultivate Wellness can be found at about Granite Theatre's A Christmas Carol can be found at healthy. Be well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.
Today we’re talking about how an innovative approach to retail ensures that Blue Cross of Rhode Island members get the most value from their health plans. How that same space can get help them with tough health questions, and how Your Blue Store can even get them up and moving. I’m Mark Sheldon and this is the Rhode to Health, a podcast from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island. Today's episode: The Rhode to Your Blue Store. You can learn more about Your Blue Stores here.Thanks to our guests  Michael Fernandez, Nytasha Watson, Ericka Newman, Robin M Lussier as well as Eric Rodrigues and Melissa Cummings who could be heard with the Blue Bus at the top of our show. I’d also like to thank Carilyn Flynn who can be heard singing under our closing credits. Special thanks to Paul Ryan, Chantel Cuthbert, Mel Coon and all of our hard working Your Blue Store associates.Be well, Be healthy, and keep your eyes on the Rhode.
On Friday September 16th, hundreds of Blue Cross employees mobilized across the ocean state for the company’s annual day of service, Blue Across Rhode Island. In this special episode, we’re going to hear stories from organizations whose service projects ranged from painting fences to sorting shoes.We'd like to thank all the organizations that participated in this years Blue Across:Amenity AidBig Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode IslandCommunity Action Partnership of ProvidenceRhode Island Community Food BankGotta Have Sole Foundation, Inc. Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island - Greater Providence IncHabitat for Humanity for Rhode Island - South County Inc.Happy Hope FoundationHope Alzheimer's CenterJames L. Maher CenterPlay Works New EnglandRhode Island oral Health FoundationThe Confetti FoundationThe Elisha ProjectBe healthy. Be well. And keep your eyes on the Rhode.
The Rhode to Learning

The Rhode to Learning


It’s back to school time and we’re discussing health and wellness in Rhode Island’s school kids. We’re joined by Sarah Dinklage, CEO of Rhode Island Student Assistance Services, about how RISAS is meeting RI kids’ mental health needs and helping to prevent substance  use disorder in our schools. We’ll also talk to BCBSRI senior medical director and pediatrician, Dr. Gonzalo Paz-Soldan, and manager of behavioral health clinical operations at BCBSRI and social worker, Jessica Walsh, LICSW. They offer some healthy tips for kids to manage school day stress. And finally, we’ll talk to Kelly Starliper-Morris, M.Ed., NBCT, special educator for Cranston Public Schools and Project SEARCH lead instructor. Project SEARCH is a national organization which partners with Cranston Public Schools; the Rhode Island Office of Rehabilitation Services; and the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals. The primary goal of the program is to prepare young people with developmental and intellectual disabilities for success in competitive, integrated employment. BCBSRI has been a proud supporter of Project Search since 2015, with 38 interns serving in a variety of roles since then. You can learn more about  Rhode Island Student Assistance Services at more about Project Search on the national level at
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