Mosaic Cultural Complex conducted workshops related to the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund grant across 2015 at a city healthcare center, according to a high-ranking administrator there.
In addition, it began a planned six-week course on Jan. 20, according to someone who attended the first two sessions and confirmed by officials.
The city, amid a swirl of controversy over the grassroots organization’s involvement in and its own administration of the multi-agency health initiative — specifically reimbursements paid to Mosaic — told the Sun Jan. 29 it had asked the group in mid-December to cease operations as of Dec. 31 until a new contract was in place.
Three days later, after the Sun’s exclusive Jan. 31 report, City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. announced he would request state Attorney General Maura T. Healey’s office investigate Mosaic and the city would halt payments to the group while the inquiry is pending.
William C. McNeill, a local radio show host, blogger and preacher, told Worcester Sun over multiple interviews last week that beginning Wednesday, Jan. 20, he attended the first two weeks of a six-week chronic disease self-management course conducted by Mosaic Cultural Complex employees at the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in Great Brook Valley.
“We did have sign-in sheets and they [Mosaic] probably have them. … I know a couple of [participants] were African, one just had the bypass surgery, and one had a pacemaker. And there were a few others who didn’t talk much,” McNeill said.
He said there were at least eight other individuals in attendance, but he didn’t know any of the other participants personally.
Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center had been Mosaic’s clinical partner on this portion of the grant.
“We did host the workshop. They were led by Mosaic until we were officially told that they couldn’t,” Paula Green, vice president for advancement at the Kennedy Center, said Friday, Feb. 12. “And they no longer are. And we are scrambling with the rest of our partners to fill that void.
“[The workshops] are still going on, but they’re no longer being run by Mosaic,” Green said.
The Latino Health Insurance Program is running the workshops, according to Green.
“We’re a part of a bigger piece and we’re working with all of the other partners to do this. We’re trying to make sure that the program is carried off in the best light and in the way it was intended by the grant,” Green said.
“As of Dec. 31, [Mosaic’s] contract was up,” city spokesman John Hill said. “We asked all of the partners not to do any work if they didn’t have a contract in place. In their case, as of right now the city manager has asked for everything to be put on hold until the Attorney General’s office has a chance to review everything.”
Green said Friday, Feb. 12, Mosaic employees conducted multiple chronic disease self-management workshops across 2015. “Mosaic was doing their work for all of 2015 to my knowledge,” she said. “They were a partner for that particular piece of it until the DPH told them to cease their work.”
The city was tapped in January 2014 as coordinating partner for the disbursement of grant funds and selected the 11 partners from the Worcester area, including Mosaic, to provide the services.
The grant, which aims to lower the rates of the most common preventable diseases and to address health disparities, awarded Worcester $6 million over four years.
Since then, Mosaic Cultural Complex has received more than $200,000 in reimbursement checks from the city to pay workers for services provided in the community as outlined by the grant proposal.
On Jan. 4, the city cut its last check to Mosaic for $39,378.72 to cover payroll for the period between April 1 and June 30, 2015. Any payments for work done by Mosaic from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2015, according to Hill, would be on hold per Augustus’ announcement and pending the state review.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office said last week that the inquiry is underway but there is no update on when it will be complete.
McNeill, who said the classes were held during the day, stopped attending after seeing the Jan. 31 Sun report indicating Mosaic was asked by the city to cease operations under the grant.
Pamphlets handed out to the participants provided by McNeill indicate the courses were run by Mosaic and identify employees Carmen Negron and Michael Jerry as points of contact for the program.
According to McNeill, Jerry was a co-teacher for the classes he attended.
Multiple attempts to reach Negron and Jerry went unanswered. Howard Stempler, an attorney representing the organization who released a statement following Augustus’ announcement, also did not return calls or emails.
According to literature from the workshops, through McNeill, the classes were planned to be two-and-a-half hours, once a week for six weeks. The course was meant to offer solutions for self-managing high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and lung disease. The course included health coaching and wellness walks.
The first week covered an overview of self-management and chronic health conditions, and stressed the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and making an action plan to handle chronic health conditions. Week two focused on preventing falls, stressed the importance of physical activity and exercise, and discussed how to deal with difficult emotions. Week three added pain and fatigue management, in addition to what was covered in the first two weeks.
Week four covered better breathing, healthy eating and communication skills, according to the schedule. Week five will deal with depression and making informed treatment decisions.
The final week of the course focuses on weight management, working with the individual’s healthcare professional and organization, and discussing future plans.
Complete Sun coverage of Mosaic Cultural Complex and the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund grant: