After positioning AmeriHealth Caritas as a national leader in providing health care solutions for those in need, Michael Rashid is retiring as the company’ president and CEO.
Rashid, who has been with the company for almost 20 years, will serve as special advisor to IBC President and CEO Daniel J. Hilferty through year’s end.
“This company has grown tremendously since we’ve been here. We’ve been able to touch millions of people over that period of time,” said Rashid, 66, who joined the organization in 1994.
“The base has grown tremendously. We’ve done a lot of good work. I think that at this point in my life it’s time to move on and do something else.”
Rashid joined the organization in 1994 and has led AmeriHealth Caritas since 2010. He was instrumental in developing three new product lines and expanding the number of members served from 300,000 in two states to nearly five million in 15 states. The company has grown from 500 to 4,000 associates over the years.
Last September, Rashid’s leadership in the Medicaid managed care industry was recognized by the White House. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appointed Rashid to the National Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health.
Paul A. Tufano, Independence Blue Cross executive vice president and chairman of the board of AmeriHealth Caritas, has been appointed CEO of the company effective March 31.
“It’s going to be a very smooth transition from my leadership to Paul Tufano’s leadership,” Rashid said. “I think that I can leave here very comfortably with the knowledge that what we have built will only continue and probably grow even faster under Paul’s leadership.”
Tufano said he’s excited to follow in Rashid’s footsteps.
“Michael has a lot to do with why the company is literally one of the best Medicaid companies in America,” he said. “He’s just been a great advocate for the underserved and I would say he has really spearheaded the growth of the company in the recent years in developing different products and offerings and diversifying the company. I have been really privileged to work closely with Michael and his team and I think we’re positioned to take the company to the next level.”
Tufano joined IBC in 1999 as senior vice president and general counsel. In 2010, he was promoted to executive vice president and received additional responsibility as president of government markets, overseeing the company’s interests in Medicare, CHIP and Special Care that serve more than 200,000 consumers.
In 2011, he assumed responsibility for public affairs, which includes government and community affairs, as well as the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. At that time, his role also expanded further to include chairman of the board for AmeriHealth Caritas.
Before joining IBC, he was general counsel of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania for Gov. Tom Ridge and was a member of both the governor’s cabinet and senior staff.
“I had the pleasure of working with Michael as my partner at AmeriHealth Caritas for many years,” Hilferty said. “His counsel was invaluable and his commitment unwavering. I’ve admired how he’s guided the company through this time of tremendous growth.
“I am personally grateful for Michael’s service and excited about the future of AmeriHealth Caritas under Paul’s direction,” he added.
Rashid said he has not decided what his next move will be.
“My whole life has been speaking out and advocating on behalf of the underserved and I would like to be able to continue to do that in some way, shape, form or fashion,” he said.
Minister Maytha Ritter Wright was a preacher at Second Macedonia Baptist Church.
She died on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. She was 95.
She was born Jan. 8, 1919 to David Burnett Ritter and Ruby Anderson Ritter in Allendale, S.C.
In 1923, she and her family moved to York. Upon relocating to York, the family joined Bethlehem Baptist Church. She completed her primary and secondary education in York and continued to reside there through her young adult years.
In 1936, she married the late William H. Ransom Sr. and their union was blessed with two children. The young couple moved their family to Coatesville in 1943.
Wright attended the Apex Beauty School in 1946 and soon began a career in cosmetology. She taught in the field, served as a Pennsylvania examiner, and soon gained recognition as an internationally known hair colorist. She was one of the first African-American stylists whose color techniques were exhibited nationally by Ozone Hair Color, a division of Clairol. Her dedication to her work resulted in her being selected to head up a special Black Women’s Hair Color Project for Clairol in 1960.
She was active in civic pursuits and in 1961 she became a delegate to the first Civil Rights rally in Washington, D.C., representing the Coatesville Chapter of the NAACP.
When she moved to Philadelphia in 1963, Wright became the first Black person to be employed as a hostess at the renowned Stouffer’s Restaurant.
Wright worked at the Opportunity Industrialization Center from 1964 to 1970, where she developed the curriculum for the Feeder Program in Personal Development for what was to later become an international job-training initiative.
In 1964, Wright joined Second Macedonia Baptist Church, under her brother the late Pastor Thomas J. Ritter. She served in many capacities over the next 50 years. She served the president of Women’s Christian Ministry, first director of the Choral Ensemble, co-founder of the “In Touch” Ministry, charter member of the Scholarship Ministry; first instructor of the New Member Ministry. Wright was also a member of the Senior Choir and served as a youth leader and chairperson of Women’s Day.
In 1965, Wright founded the “Doers of the Word” Ministry, a WFIL-FM radio program for men. Over the years, she has conducted Bible study classes in Philadelphia and throughout the surrounding area. Many ordained pastors studied the Bible in her classes.
In the 1970s, she and her husband George Wright co-owned G & M Security, handling corporate facilities in the Philadelphia area.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Wright conducted a “Porch” Ministry on the porch at her home on Sedgwick Street. She introduced hundreds of school-aged children to the Lord.
In 1998, Wright and her daughter toured the Holy Land and crossed the Sea of Galilee. She also traveled to Korea, Hawaii and throughout much of the United States.
After graduating from Deliverance Bible Institute, Wright became licensed to preach by the Rev. Ritter in 1999. She pursued a vigorous preaching schedule at Second Macedonia Baptist Church. Outside the church, she established a ministry at the Emlen Arms Apartments where she resided and remained faithful to that Sunday evening ministry
In January 2014, Pastor Harold R. Jolley gave Wright a new assignment as associate minister of pastoral prayer support.
She was a board member of the National Day of Prayer and Just Friends Delaware Valley Chapter. Wright was also the licensed instructor for Evangelistic Training Association, Praise Bible instructor at St. Paul Baptist and publicity chairperson for the Mt. Airy AARP.
She was also honored at the Chapel of the Four Chaplains for her outstanding community service.
In addition to her parents and husbands, Wright was preceded in death by her brothers Walter Ritter, Sr., and the Rev. Thomas.
She is survived by her daughter Barbara Mines Barron (Maurice); son William H. Ransom, Jr. (Harriet); grandchildren Vincent, Robin, William III, Robert, Stella, Zachary and Austin; great-grandchildren Alecia, Blair, Alan, Joshua, William IV, Barbara, Morgan Alexis, Victoria, Autum and Lourdes Epiphany; sister Mary Ritter Gibbs, brother David Ritter; sister-in-law Elizabeth Ritter, niece/goddaughter Rosemarie Ritter and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held on Feb. 8 at Second Macedonia Baptist Church, Ruscomb St. Viewing is at 9 a.m. Services will follow at 10 a.m.
A scholarship fund in her name is being established at Second Macedonia Baptist Church for high school graduates entering college in pursuit of a career in religion. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Maytha Ritter Wright Scholarship Fund.
Savin Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Bettye F. Brown was an accomplished educator and administrator.
Brown died on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. She was 71.
She was born Oct. 1, 1942, to Adelaide Lowery and Fred Peterson in Selma, Ala.
She attended Shiloh High School and Alabama A&M University before later moving to Philadelphia with two of her sisters.
Brown earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Cheyney State College. She later obtained her master’s degree in education at Temple University.
She was a member of Living Word Community for more than 42 years.
She married James Brown in 1967. One son was born to their union.
Brown began her teaching career in the Atlantic City School District and then went on to teach second grade for 36 years in the Chester-Upland School District. She distinguished herself in the classroom at Christopher Columbus elementary school and was a leader in the teachers union. During a district wide labor strike that affected thousands of students, Brown was instrumental in facilitating a prompt resolution by spearheading a class action litigation.
Brown was also active in the parent’s group at Episcopal Academy and volunteered in and around the school. She was regarded as a willing and energetic participant in several school projects.
After retiring from classroom instruction in 1996, Brown went on to become a reading enrichment volunteer with Experience Corps. She rose to be a coordinator with the program.
In 2011, Brown began working as the school advisory council manager at Universal Companies. In that capacity, she mentored young teachers, worked as the coordinator with parents and oversaw a staff of volunteers.
As an advocate for change, Brown played a pivotal role in the School District of Philadelphia’s Renaissance Initiative and was recognized as “Employee of the Year for 2012.”
“She was loved by many and highly respected for her tireless efforts to enrich the lives of children,” her family said.
“The young minds that she touched and molded during her many years as an educator are a lasting legacy of her contributions.”
She formed her own travel agency “Direct Travel” and traveled throughout the world with her husband to evaluate resorts for clients including many corporate contracts and church missionary trips.
She is survived by her son Jason; her beloved Brittany Ward; siblings Randolph Peterson, Danna Peterson, Katherine Diggs, Samuel Peterson, Fred Peterson, Jr., Thomas Peterson, Mary Ruth Bryant and Roosevelt Peterson and other relatives and friends.
Services were held on Feb. 1 at Living Word Community, 142 N. 17th St.
Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Joseph W. Day was a licensed barber.
Day died on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2014. He was 39.
He was born July 9, 1974 to Janet Day and Theodore Teagle. He was educated in the School District of Philadelphia. He obtained an associate’s degree in business management and also received a certificate in culinary arts. Day later became a licensed barber.
He had many jobs throughout his life. As a teen, Day worked summers at the Mann Music Center. He also worked at UPS and DHL as a laborer and at various restaurants as a prep cook. As an adult, Day worked for many years at Quality Landscaping and Tree Company as a laborer and a tree trimmer. He worked at several barber shops in West Philadelphia until an auto accident in 2012 rendered him disabled.
“Joseph possessed a loving heart and a charitable spirit at a young age,” his family said. “Joseph was a very gifted artist with a love for all fellow men.”
Although Day had no children of his own, he mentored the youth of his family, as well as the youth of his peers and community. His family said he loved to cook and eat and he was known for his desert specialties.
In addition to his parents, he is survived by his grandfather Jessie Day; aunt Michelle Day; uncles Louis and Arnet Day; cousins Matthew, Jeannie, Jolanda, Natasha, and Lateef Day and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held on Feb. 8 at Wood Funeral Home, 5537-39 W. Girard Ave. Viewing is at 9 a.m. Services will follow at 10 a.m. Burial is private.
A transformative $15 million development is slated to impact the health of North Philadelphia residents and revitalize the community.
Officials from Project HOME broke ground last Wednesday on the Stephen Klein Wellness Center located at 21st Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. The 28,598 square foot comprehensive health care facility will offer primary care, behavioral health and dental care services, health education, physical therapy, a pharmacy and a YMCA-managed fitness facility.
The center marks a partnership between philanthropic investor Stephen Klein, Project HOME, the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Inc. and Phillies co-owners Leigh and John Middleton.
“The Stephen Klein Wellness Center, as a Federally-Qualified Health Center designated to serve people who are or were homeless, is a critical next step in our mission to end and prevent homelessness in Philadelphia,” said Sister Mary Scullion, executive director of Project HOME.
“The miracle in all of this is that funding for capital, the land and operations all came together to allow us to provide solid integrated care and sustain these partnerships. The vision shared by all partners of integrating physical and behavioral health along with wellness and affordable housing is now becoming a reality and will enable those who are chronically homeless to break the cycle of homelessness.”
Scullion was joined by various officials during the groundbreaking including Mayor Michael Nutter, Gov. Tom Corbett, HHS Regional Administrator Pam Kania, developer Stephen Klein, Leigh and John Middleton and Jefferson University Hospitals President and CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania committed Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant funding for the project.
“The commonwealth invested in the Stephen Klein Wellness Center because it represents a capital impact to the commonwealth of $21 million in expenditures and 180 jobs, with hundreds more jobs from annual operations after it is built,” Corbett said.
The Stephen Klein Wellness Center will serve an area that is highly impacted with chronic illnesses including asthma, diabetes and obesity.
“The center will help people access integrated health care, live healthier lives and be better equipped to fulfill the dreams that we all have — of housing, education, employment and safety,” Nutter said.
Construction on the new center is scheduled to be completed by early 2015. While construction on the new center is underway, patients will continue to be seen at Project HOME’s existing St. Elizabeth’s Wellness Center at 1845 N. 23rd St.
As a wellness center consumer and community health worker, Loretta Dredden looks forward the opening of the new facility.
“The new building is just going to make everything better in the community,” she said.
When Dredden needed health care, she turned to St. Elizabeth’s for help. She was uninsured and has asthma, diabetes and hypertension.
“The staff here is absolutely superb. They take their time with you. They want to take care of you and get you to wellness. Even if you don’t see the importance of taking care of your health, they do,” said Dredden, who now works at the center.
“They diagnosed me, got me the medication that I needed and revived me back to life. I take heed to what they are telling me and as a result my health has turned around.”
The new facility is being constructed at a time when federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) have an important role in serving the needs of many across the country. FQHCs serve underserved communities, provide comprehensive services and offer a sliding fee scale.
Last year, Project HOME received funding $648,750 from HHS to support the new center. The organization was one of 236 health care programs to receive approximately $150 million in grant awards to support the establishment of new centers.
In addition to the wellness center, the City of Philadelphia is building a 10,000 square foot center for older adults on the site. The $3 million older adult facility will serve consumers in North Central Philadelphia and will bring the total current investment in the neighborhood to $18 million.