FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 1, 2014
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Cooley Dickinson Hospital has awarded $89,535 to three agencies to lead planning and evaluation projects that are designed to improve access to health care and assess the availability of mental health services.
The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) will collaborate with the United Way of Hampshire County (UWHC) to conduct an inventory of transportation programs and services of target populations in Hampshire and Franklin counties, including low income housing and environmental justice neighborhoods. An environmental justice neighborhood concept is based on the principle that all people have a right to be protected from environmental pollution and to live in and enjoy a clean and healthful environment.
Other populations targeted in the inventory include seniors, people living with mental illness, and those who are physically disabled. The project involves research, data collection, and an analysis of transportation needs.
The goals of the planning process are to remove barriers vulnerable populations may experience when accessing needed medical care and to have access to the community resources needed to live a healthy life.
The grant awarded to the PVPC was $26,940; a portion of which was subcontracted to the UWHC.
Expected outcomes of this project include identifying practical and manageable projects that we or community partners can implement to improve access to care and generally enhance access to community resources. We anticipate learning about practices from around the world that may have applicability locally. For example, we may find that we can enhance a volunteer medical transportation program by providing a small stipend for mileage reimbursement.
Access to Mental Health Services
Systems Perspectives, (SP), a Concord, Mass.-based agency, will design and facilitate a community process that includes patients, families, non-profit and government providers who will develop a plan to improve the functioning of the continuum of mental health care. Objectives include identifying gaps in mental health services, duplication of services, strengths and weaknesses of the current system, and recommending a plan improve access to mental health care in Hampshire County. SP’s project funding award was $37,600.
The Collaborative for Education Services received $24,995 to conduct a program evaluation of the grants and planning project initiatives. The evaluation will help the projects develop skills to better assess the effectiveness of their work which will help them design better projects in the future and be competitive for grant funding. Through program evaluation CDH will also learn more about the effectiveness of its own health assessment and grant making activities, which will help us plan improvements for future projects.
Why Cooley Dickinson Funds Community Planning Projects
The community health grants and planning projects are part of a larger goal of improving the health of local residents. As part of Cooley Dickinson's $3 million purchase of a linear accelerator, used to treat cancer, the hospital is mandated by the state Department of Public Health's Determination of Need program to support community health projects. Cooley Dickinson used a grant application process to redistribute funds back to the communities it serves.
The community projects begin this month and will be completed by September 2014.
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