Harvard Street Health hires family physician as center’s new medical director

Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center has hired family physician Dr. Simone Ellis as its new medical director.
Dr. Alice Lin served as the clinic’s acting director.

A native of Bridgeport, CT with roots in Jamaica and Belize, Ellis first became familiar with the areas served by the Harvard Street Center as a medical student at Boston University.

“I spent a lot of time doing community outreach while I was in medical school,” she said. “I fell in love with the Dorchester/Roxbury community. This is where I would do all my community health work and get my Caribbean food, get my hair done.

Ellis earned her bachelor’s degree from Yale University, her medical degree from Boston University, and completed her residency at Georgetown University’s Providence Hospital.

For three years after graduation and residency, she worked as a family physician in Washington D.C.

“When I saw this opportunity, I thought it was a great way to get back into the community in a different role,” she said. “I was in Boston as a student. Coming back as medical director is truly an honor. I feel privileged to have this opportunity. I’m very happy to have been considered because it’s something something I wanted to do in leadership, but I didn’t think I would get the chance so young.

Charles Murphy, president and CEO of the health center, called his journey “very impressive. She is very interested in the leadership aspect of being a doctor as well as seeing patients.

He added: “We have launched a fairly exhaustive search. When we started, we hired a firm. I told them that if I could wave a magic wand, my ideal candidate would be a young doctor who has experience caring for patients and is interested in the leadership side of the house.

According to Murphy, Ellis fit the bill perfectly. “She came and met the staff and all the other providers and they loved her. It worked very well. I think she will be welcomed with open arms.

Sara Callard, the center’s director of communications and grants, pointed out how Ellis’ cultural background equips her well for the role. “Having a female medical director who is a person of color is wonderful for us because she reflects the community and that’s really important,” Callard said. “She understands the people we serve because she grew up downtown herself. She personally understands and works to overcome the social determinants of health.

She added that many of the health center’s current initiatives focus on reducing racial and income-based disparities in health outcomes, a primary interest of the new medical director.

For his part, Ellis looks forward to improving community health through welcoming care and awareness.

“I strongly believe that health care is local,” she said. “This recent pandemic that we are still facing has taught us all that. As a community health center, we have a unique ability to reach out to the local community and welcome them to our doorsteps and also reach outside our doors. I believe the mission is to make the community healthier, one patient at a time. I see myself learning the role. Being from an inner city background myself and using local clinics growing up, I want to create an environment on Harvard Street that is welcoming and accessible.