North End Waterfront (NEW) Health held a small ceremony at the Coast Guard Base on Tuesday, December 18, to honor Elaine Wilson, the health center’s founder and first Chief Executive Officer. Wilson opened the health center – then North End Community Health Center – in April 1971.
Wilson was the first female CEO of a health center in Massachusetts. Under her leadership, NEW Health was the first in the state and second in the country in 1980 to institute the use of electronic medical records. Wilson also led the effort to create the neighborhood nursing center in 1983, the first health center in the country to do so.
Following her retirement, Wilson created the United North End Social Services Agency (UNESSA), a collaboration of neighborhood nonprofits in the North End. She led a joint partnership with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) to open the Villa Michelangelo in 2001, creating 71 units of senior housing.
Jim Hunt of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, as well as NEW Health board members and staff, was on hand as an employee of the year award was named in Wilson’s honor. This year’s recipient was Bianka Dias-Pigott, a nurse at the health center.