Lifespan Community Affairs

The Miriam Hospital Community Forums

The way Janet Barlow tells it, Lifespan and The Miriam Hospital saved her life. “I never thought I’d have a heart attack, but I did,” said the 79-year-old East Providence resident, a former employee of Rhode Island Hospital.

Barlow, who had a stent procedure, said she also received excellent follow-up care at The Miriam’s center for cardiac fitness. At the forum, she advocated for increased patient education to help prevent a cardiac occurrence. Among her recommendations: Lifespan should distribute more diet information and emphasize the benefits of the center for cardiac fitness.

Barlow was one of about 25 people who came out to Providence’s Laurelmead Cooperative, a retirement community, on May 9 to share their health care concerns.  When polled, the group pointed to cardiac health and stroke care as their biggest health concerns. Lifespan has launched series of forums as a way for the Lifespan Community Health Institute to learn about the health care needs of different communities across Rhode Island.

"Like the other forums Lifespan is convening around the state, the forum at Laurelmead provided an opportunity for hospital representatives to hear directly from the residents we serve, outside of a patient visit,” said Carrie Bridges Feliz, director of the Lifespan Community Health Institute. “We got to both listen and learn from our patients."

Monica Anderson, Lifespan’s director of community relations and corporate citizenship, and Kelsey Bala, one of 16 community liaisons hired by Lifespan, led the discussion. The statewide effort is part of Lifespan’s community health needs assessment.

Other issues raised by the group at Laurelmead ranged from issues around opioid use privacy concerns to children’s health. The latter ranked fifth on the list – encouraging news for five-year-old Lily Alarcon of Cumberland who – despite losing a tooth that day – sat patiently alongside her mom, Idalina, while sampling fresh fruit salad.

Cancer, patient education, and emergency department performance and access also ranked high on the group’s list of health care areas they’d like to see addressed.

Echoing her opinion of the center for cardiac fitness at The Miriam – which she refers to as “her” hospital – Barlow said of the forum, “It was very informative. I think this is a wonderful thing.”

For more information about the Community Health Needs Assessment meetings or the Lifespan Community Health Institute, please contact Carrie Bridges Feliz, MPH at 401-444-8009 or