Thundermist Health Center Named 2015 Hypertension Control Champion

One of 18 Champions throughout the United States

(May 9, 2016) — The Centers for Disease Control Million Hearts Initiative announced today that it has recognized Thundermist Health Center as a Hypertension Control Champion for 2015.  One of only 18 awardees in the nation, Thundermist was recognized for its success in helping patients control high blood pressure.  The Million Hearts® Hypertension Control Challenge is a competition to identify practices, clinicians, and health systems that have excelled in achieving blood pressure control for their patients.  Nearly one in three American adults has high blood pressure.  Only half of those individuals have their hypertension under control, putting them at greater risk of developing heart disease or stroke – two of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Thundermist Health Center uses a team-based, patient-centered model of care to improve hypertension control.  Every member of the organization has a role in improving the health of Thundermist’s patients; the front office staff, physicians, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, behavioral health clinicians, community health team members, dietitians, the data and analytics team, the dental team and others contribute to the effort.

“Our approach is very data driven,” said David Bourassa, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Thundermist.  “In addition to encouraging innovation and teamwork, we put a lot of effort into giving teams the data they need to plan each patient’s care before the day starts.  We also provide a weekly all-Thundermist dashboard that helps us to shorten improvement cycles, share best practices and recognize top performers throughout the organization.”

An example of the whole team approach is Thundermist’s recognition of the important role played by medical assistants in managing patients’ high blood pressure.  Because the medical assistant is usually the first clinical point of contact with the patient, and because they take the initial blood pressure reading, all Thundermist medical assistants participate in competency and training on techniques and influencing variables when taking blood pressures.

“I’m so proud of this team,” said Chuck Jones, Thundermist’s President and CEO.  “From the leadership of our exceptional physicians and nurse practitioners, to the medical and dental receptionists, our staff have a passion to improve the health of their neighbors in the community.  This prestigious recognition is a great way to recognize their hard work and commitment.  Most importantly, the recognition represents major strides in blood pressure control that have improved our patients’ health and saved lives.”  Thundermist improved the number of hypertensive patients with controlled blood pressure by more than 5 percent between 2014 and 2015.  As a result of these efforts nearly 300 more hypertensive patients of Thundermist are now living with well controlled blood pressure.

Million Hearts® launched its challenge in 2012 to recognize clinicians and health care teams across the country for helping their patients protect heart health.  “Clinicians are our first line of defense against the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by high blood pressure each year,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We applaud the 2015 Champions and hope other health care teams learn from these successes and save even more lives.”

To be eligible, entrants shared verifiable high blood pressure control data and highlighted successful strategies and best practices adopted by the practice or system, such as the use of health information technology and team-based care. All Champions achieved control rates of 70 percent or greater for their adult patients.  For more information on Million Hearts visit

Thundermist Health Center is a non-profit community health center whose mission is to improve the lives of patients and surrounding communities by delivering exceptional health care that breaks down barriers and promotes healthy lifestyles.  Services include primary medical care, dental care, behavioral health services, school-based health care, QuickCare, pharmacy, Trans* Health Access, and nutritional services, in particular a Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program. Thundermist has locations in West Warwick, Woonsocket, and Wakefield. It serves clients regardless of insurance and ability to pay.  Thundermist Health Center is a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home, the highest level of recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).  In 2015, Thundermist served more than 42,000 patients.