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Anne Richmond, 61; led MGH community health center

Anne Richmond was known as a strong and passionate advocate for patients.

Anne Richmond was known as a strong and passionate advocate for patients.

From her early work coordinating medical care for pregnant refugees and immigrants in Springfield to her years creating innovative programs as director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Community Health Associates, Anne Richmond was committed to bringing health care to the state’s underserved residents.

Speaking to the Globe in 2001 about one of Mass. General’s centers in Chelsea, which helped provide care to immigrants, Ms. Richmond said MGH “takes very seriously the diversity of the population served. In the last five years, with the influx of these immigrants, we have added outreach and interpreter staff to assist them in accessing care and meeting their needs.”

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Kathleen Miller, a Community Health Associates colleague, said Ms. Richmond “was a very passionate and strong patient advocate, so when she felt there was a need for something, she would just keep at it.”

She was loyal and not afraid to “stand up for what she believed in,” Miller added.

Ms. Richmond, who was diagnosed about 20 years ago with cancer that metastasized, died June 13 in the Elizabeth Evarts de Rham hospice in Cambridge. She was 61 and lived in Brighton.

“She was very supportive of her staff, very supportive of her colleagues, and very supportive of the mission she believed in,” said Dr. Eric Weil, a friend and colleague.

As part of her 14 years directing Community Health Associates, Ms. Richmond helped launch a Wellness Center in Revere, which opened in April 2007.

“Anne Richmond had the vision for creating a community-based Wellness Center that would work in tandem with MGH Primary Care Providers, to provide wellness services for their patients,” according to a profile of her on the hospital’s website.

The center offers treatment including acupuncture, therapeutic massage, Tai Chi, and mind body groups for stress reduction.

“Lots of people have vision, but not everybody has the ability to make it come through fruition,” Weil said.

After the center opened, Ms. Richmond told an MGH publication that the staff was “thrilled to be able to provide additional health and wellness programs to MGH health center patients and do it in a way that advances scientific knowledge about the benefits of these programs for patients’ health and well-being.”

Anne Marla Richmond was born in Mineola, N.Y., and grew up in nearby Roslyn, also on Long Island, and in the Queens borough of New York City. She graduated in 1969 from Francis Lewis High School in Queens.

Her marriage to Will LeBow during the early 1970s lasted 10 years before ending in divorce.

She traveled to Israel as part of a kibbutz that connected young adults from across the United States and Canada. In 1976, she graduated from Hunter College in New York City with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and education.

Before moving to Boston in 1980, she lived in New York and taught at a preschool in the city. After working briefly at a publishing company, she took a management position at Downtown Records, where she worked from 1982 until 1990 and was responsible for operating the Boston-based recording facility.

“She just loved music, and she wanted to be around it,” said her brother, Laurence, of Somers, Conn. “She wasn’t a musician, so she wanted to be around the making of music.”

Leaving the recording industry, Ms. Richmond attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, from which she graduated in 1991 with a master’s degree in community health and public health policy.

“I think that she wanted to do something substantial,” her brother said of her decision to change professions.

In 1991, she began working as the training coordinator at the state’s Refugee and Immigrant Health Program in Springfield. A year later she became project director of a Vietnamese Amerasian program.

In the position, which she held until 1995, she helped women who were pregnant or new mothers adjust to living in the United States by providing them with medical care, health education, and social services.

In 1996, she began working at UMass Amherst, helping to oversee partnerships between academics, community-based groups, and health practitioners.

Ms. Richmond returned to Boston the following year to become director of Community Health Associates and ended up living in Brighton. She retired in 2011.

Chris Pleim, her longtime partner, said Ms. Richmond was known for “her energy and her drive and her vision. She just didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

In addition to her work at MGH, Ms. Richmond served on the board of directors for the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and was president of the Massachusetts Coalition of School-Based Health Centers.

Mass. General honored her work with a Partners in Excellence award and an award for innovations in primary care. At the Wellness Center in Revere, the acupuncture room has been named the Anne Richmond Healing Room in her honor.

Throughout her life Ms. Richmond enjoyed attending theatrical performances and often visited New York City to watch Broadway shows. She also enjoyed singing and was part of a Boston choir.

A service has been held for Ms. Richmond, who in addition to her partner and brother, leaves Lebow, her former husband.

Ms. Richmond, whose spirituality was rooted in Tibetan Buddhism, was a member of the Shambhala Meditation Center in Brookline.

“People would meet her,” Pleim said, “and immediately feel like they found a soulmate.”

Michele Richinick can be reached at mrichinick@gmail.com.
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