Projects Address Unmet Healthcare Needs in Tri-County Region
WATERTOWN, NY — Seven organizations in the region were recently awarded grant funding to implement promising strategies to fill physical, social, and behavioral healthcare needs in the community. This is the second year that North Country Initiative (NCI) has strategically invested in these priority areas; in 2021, five projects were awarded a total of $175,000.
Criteria for the awards were driven by a Summer 2020 poll of regional healthcare providers who were asked their feedback on the most pressing health issues in the tri-county area. Of the 60 issues identified, 14 were earmarked for Promising Practices funding within six categories, including: prevent and manage chronic disease; promote mental and behavioral well-being; prevent communicable diseases; promote healthy infants and children; promote geriatric and end-of-life care; and strengthen healthcare infrastructure and delivery.
In February 2022, NCI issued a request for proposals (RFP) to its partner organizations. Proposals were received and reviewed by a Community Review Committee comprised of healthcare stakeholders including a Medicaid-insured individual. Grant applications were evaluated based on project feasibility and impact, primarily on the Medicaid/Medicare/uninsured population; focus on social determinants of health; community need; project management; and long-term sustainability.
“NCI is pleased to direct funding for innovative healthcare projects to our clinical and community-based partners once again in 2022,” said Joanna Loomis, NCI Deputy Director. “Further, it was important to us to continue involving multiple stakeholder perspectives in the review process, as each reviewer thoughtfully evaluated the applications’ strengths through their respective lenses and lent their particular expertise to the process. One of the reviewers is a Medicaid-insured individual who helped us further understand the impact that the projects would have on our region’s Medicaid population. This changed the course of the conversation and was an invaluable contribution to the process.”
Seven projects were selected for funding. The awardees and their respective projects are as follows:
Bolton’s Pharmacy – “Vaccines & Vitamins for Children” will provide immunizations and free multivitamins to at least 200 children in low-income households through Bolton’s Watertown location.
Carthage Area Hospital – “Healthcare on the Highway: Bringing Primary and Preventative Care into the Community” will staff a mobile primary care clinic, which will travel throughout Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties and will make preventive care (such as well visits, vaccinations, screenings, and more) more accessible to local residents with transportation challenges.
Complete Family Care & Laser Center – “Bridging the Care Management Gap for Medicaid Patients” will make it possible for an independently-owned primary care practice in Jefferson County to provide clinical and social care management support for identified high-risk Medicaid patients.
Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center – “Cook to Eat to Live: Basic Cooking Skills for Better Health” will create a teaching kitchen within Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in which people with pre-diabetes, diabetes, obesity, other chronic conditions, or families with children who may be at risk to develop chronic conditions, can participate in group or individual classes on healthy meal and snack preparation. The project also includes the “$25 Feeds Five” program which provides participants with make-at-home meal kits incorporating locally sourced ingredients.
Credo Community Center for the Treatment of Addictions – “Mobile Medication-Assisted Treatment Unit” will support the purchase and staffing of a mobile van which will travel across Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties to provide behavioral health and substance use assessments, counseling, medication administration, peer support, and other services.
St. Lawrence County Community Services – “Creating a Trauma-Informed Response Culture for St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility” will facilitate the delivery of a New York State Office of Mental Health training on trauma-informed response among corrections officers, medical and administrative staff, and leadership within the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility. Goals of the project include a reduction in reported inmate misbehavior and grievances, and an increase in inmate engagement with rehabilitative programming and post-release services in the community. Note: this award is pending St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators approval.
Watertown Family YMCA – “Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Innovation: A Partnership to Empower Low-Income High-Risk Individuals through Self-Monitoring for Successful Hypertension Control” will enroll two cohorts, each composed of 50 participants who have or are at risk for high blood pressure, in a four-month program in which participants regularly self-monitor their blood pressure at home using grant-funded equipment, engage in personal consultations with trained Healthy Heart Ambassadors, and participate in nutrition education for better blood pressure management.
One of the recipients, Credo Community Center for the Treatment of Addictions, described the impact the grant will have on their operations throughout the region: “With financial support from OASAS and NCI, Credo is proud to announce the establishment of a mobile medication unit (MMU) that will not only provide lifesaving medication assisted treatment to individuals in communities with limited access, but will also equip us to provide mobile screenings, assessments, counseling, injections, toxicology testing, harm reduction training and education, as well as peer services,” said John Wilson, Executive Director of Credo. “Through our work with schools, the legal system, businesses, emergency medical services, community-based organizations, prevention councils, etc. we will build connections, create awareness, and strengthen referral networks to enhance the continuum of care for those with opioid use disorders, substance use disorders, and/or mental illness.”
Furthermore, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center Foundation Executive Director Amanda Hitterman shared: “Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center is honored and humbled to receive such support from NCI. This investment will allow us to take our preventative programs to the next level and teach area families that affordable, delicious meals can be incorporated into their lives.”
The twelve-month performance period for the grant-funded projects is April 1, 2022 through March 31, 2023. Each project’s impact will be measured throughout the performance period and shared at its conclusion.
“These Promising Practices funds will make it possible for our partners to implement innovative healthcare projects throughout the tri-county region,” noted Ms. Loomis. “Our community is fortunate to have an array of clinical and community-based partners who are passionate about improving the health and well-being of local residents. We look forward to witnessing the impact each of these projects will have in our region.”