After over three decades of service and being responsible for the creation of a 140 bed nursing home and an elderly housing development in the neighborhood, North End Waterfront Health (NEW Health) CEO James Luisi is set to retire next month.
Luisi, who emerged as a local and national leader in the community health field, announced last week that he would retire after 34 years as CEO of NEW Health, which has sites in the North End and Charlestown.
Luisi said he will step down June 1 and become CEO Emeritus before fully retiring on June 30. Vincenzo Scibelli, Chief Operations Officer, will serve as Interim CEO while a successor is recruited.
“I have been honored these last 34 years to lead an exceptional group of dedicated professionals who always strive to provide the best care to our patients and communities. While we have faced many challenges over the years, this job has brought me so much joy and satisfaction knowing the difference we have made in people’s lives,” said Luisi. “As long as we continue to empower people to self-care while contributing to their health and well-being, community health centers will continue to be the model for health care in this country.”
When asked about his greatest accomplishment during his tenure, Luisi says he is most proud of establishing health centers at Charlestown High School and in the Bunker Hill Housing Development, the largest low-income housing development in New England where residents had previously never had access to dental or vision services.
“People living in the development had to go across town to Boston Medical Center because no other providers in the area accepted their insurance,” he said. “Against all odds and with help from Sister Nancy Citro, a nun from St. Catherine’s Church, we were able to convince the Boston Planning and Development Agency to give us a zoning variance to open in the old St. Catherine’s School in 2015.”
Luisi began his NEW Health career as a college student in the late 1970s when the health center had one location with 25 employees and a budget of $400,000. He advanced through senior leadership to the CEO role with the goal of providing the highest quality care to the most vulnerable residents of the North End, Waterfront, Charlestown and surrounding areas. Today, NEW Health has three locations and a staff of 175 with a yearly budget of over $25 million.
“One of Jim’s greatest accomplishments during his decades of service has been creating needed programs and services for elder residents,” said Jason Aluia, NEW Health Board Chair. “He created a home care program in the 1980s, was involved with the creation of a 140-bed nursing home in the 1990s, and he spearheaded a low-income senior housing project in the 2000s. He continues to find ways to create innovative programs for our seniors.”
Under his leadership, NEW Health became the only Massachusetts health center receiving the federal government’s top award in quality for the third consecutive year. The National Quality Leader and Health Center Quality Leader by the Quality Improvement Awards of the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) is a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As past Board Chair for both the Mass. League of Community Health Centers and the National Association of Community Health Centers, Luisi’s vision has helped shape the direction of the Commonwealth’s 52 health centers and the nation’s 1500 health centers over the last 20 years.