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Coalition Honors Two Local Champions: Giancola and Iacoi

Lou Giancola, head of South County Hospital Healthcare System, Stephen Iacoi, Westerly Public Schools Attendance Officer win year’s top awards from Coalition

South County’s advocates for children applauded two of their own at last Wednesday’s 13th annual Children’s Issues Forum. The program is presented by the Washington County Coalition for Children. Handing out its two top awards, the Coalition named South County Hospital Healthcare System President and CEO Louis (Lou) R. Giancola as its 2015 Champion for Community Change. Westerly Public Schools Attendance Officer Stephen Iacoi won the Champion for Children award.
“We can offer no greater honor than these two awards,” announced Rhode Island College Assistant Professor of Social Work Pam Watson. “South County is fortunate to have many people who work tirelessly on behalf of children’s welfare.
“But Lou and Steve stood out this year – and every year – as deserving to be recognized for careers of dedication,” said Watson, who chairs the Coalition’s Champion Selection Committee

Giancola “embraces change to improve health outcomes”
“In the midst of tumultuous changes in health care, Lou Giancola understands the importance of ‘community’,” stated Louise Kiessling, MD, who presented the award.
“One of Lou’s primary interests is in large-scale community health improvements. His vision is a healthier South County with healthier lifestyles for all.
“Specifically, Lou forged a community health planning committee that led to collaborating with the Coalition and others to establish the new South County Health Bodies, Healthy Minds Collaborative, one of the state’s 11 Health Equity Zones.“His actions embody the Coalition’s mission: to serve as catalyst and facilitator for improved services for children and families,” Kiessling concluded.
Giancola joined the South County Hospital Healthcare System as its President and CEO in 2000. Before that, he was COO of the Lahey Clinic in Massachusetts and held a similar position at Women and Infants Hospital.
In addition to directing the community health planning committee, Giancola has been actively engaged in Rhode Island’s Care Transformation Collaborative (CTC), where he fostered the implementation of one of the state’s two Community Health Teams in South County. The Health Team provides supports and wraparound services to high cost Medicaid users in an effort to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
Giancola has also been active in the Patient Centered Medical Home movement, as well as participated in medical missions to Honduras to experience healthcare and public health issues in a very different culture.

Iacoi of Westerly named Champion for Children for more than 30 years of dedicated service
That his wife, Michelle, was Stephen Iacoi’s biggest booster for winning the Champion for Children Award is probably no surprise. But she lists his achievements.
“Stephen has been a champion for all children since he began his career in law enforcement the day of the ’78 Blizzard,” she pointed out. “He has organized and led many initiatives that support youth, including, but certainly not limited to, the Juvenile Hearing Board and the Westerly Mentor Program.
“He raises funds that directly help children: camperships for underprivileged children, Y memberships, and so much more. He organizes activities, arranges mentors and mentors himself, and helps needy families find housing, jobs, food, and necessary items on a daily basis.
“Kids – all kids – are his life,” she stated proudly.
Iacoi goes about his duties and his voluntarism with the highest quality, adds his employer, Westerly Public Schools Superintendent Roy M. Seitsinger, Jr.
“Steve Iacoi is a dedicated professional. He is committed to doing whatever he can to help families and children. As our district truant officer, he is someone who regularly represents the district in court and in homes throughout our community. He is thorough, communicative, and routinely advocates for the best steps to take to resolve often-difficult issues. He is a pleasure to work with and his calm and caring demeanor is an asset to our team.”
In presenting the 2015 Champion for Children award, Pam Watson agreed from personal experience with Iacoi.
“I met our honoree in the mid 1990s while I was working for South Shore Mental Health Center,” Watson remembered. “As a Juvenile Detective for the Westerly Police Department, Stephen started the Westerly Juvenile Hearing Board, recruiting community members. He asked them to think about juveniles as needing opportunities to participate in restorative programs, rather than to move immediately to punishment.
“Stephen became a steadfast member of the Washington County Juvenile Justice Program, which was instrumental in reducing Wayward and Disobedient Petitions from Washington County to Family Court. That work was the catalyst for laws that enable families to access community-treatment services before court involvement.
“Our Champion has been and continues to be involved in the Westerly Mentor Program. He has helped raise thousands of dollars through activities such as the “Reach Out to Youth Campaign” for the Ocean Community YMCA so children in the Westerly area can participate without concern for their financial status. He coordinates an annual Spin-a-thon that provides camperships for under-privileged children. He has spearheaded the Michelle Kwan fundraiser at the Westerly Ice Skating Rink, which has raised thousands of dollars for the Westerly Mentor Program.
“We honor our Champion today not for only for the work he does in his jobs, but for his years of volunteering on behalf of children and families.
“Stephen Iacoi is a true Champion for Children in South County,” Watson ended.