Dennis Roy, CEO and president, East Bay Community Action Program

PBN 2020 Leaders & Achievers Awards
Dennis Roy | CEO and president, East Bay Community Action Program

DENNIS ROY IS TRANSFORMING the way Rhode Islanders access health care.

Roy serves as CEO and president of the East Bay Community Action Program, an East Providence-based health and human services agency that helps about 28,000 people annually. The program, in part to Roy’s vision, takes a comprehensive approach to health care. It provides patients primary care visits, mental health services, food banks and child care.

“A person’s health doesn’t just get addressed in the exam room,” Roy said. “If people are going to be healthy, they have to have a roof over their head and not have to deal with food insecurity. Our organization provides all those services in one place.”

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Mergers have been core to Roy’s strategy over his 32 years with the organization, and to its ability to treat the whole person. A significant merger occurred in 2016, when the organization joined forces with the East Bay Center, a mental health services organization in Barrington. Patients who initially come to EBCAP for primary care or another service can now easily be referred to a behavioral health specialist, and vice versa.

“The wave of the future is being able to integrate primary care with behavioral health,” Roy said. “It unites the mind and the body with one service-delivery system.”

Roy is now exploring a potential merger with Middletown-based Child & Family, an organization focused on foster care, group homes and family preservation.

“It would add a nice new dimension to what my organization already does,” Roy said. “We’re excited.”

While Roy’s long-term vision helped the program gradually expand its offerings over time, he’s also adept at quickly pivoting to address unexpected problems, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Roy’s direction, the program accessed federal funding and quickly put in place systems to facilitate telemedicine and remote working.

Roy, though, refuses to take much credit for his success.

“The staff are our real heroes,” he said. “What they do from COVID testing to basic exams, they come to work every day and do their jobs.”