OHS, DPH Earn Federal Grant to Address Covid 19 Induced Health Disparities; $3.3M to Help Fund Health Enhancement Communities (HEC) Initiative
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2021
Hartford – OHS Executive Director Victoria Veltri and Connecticut Department of Public Health Acting Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford, MD, MPH today announced the award of a federal grant, made available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to address health disparities in the state.
The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) was issued as part of the CDC’s ‘National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among Populations at High-Risk and Underserved, Including Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities.’ The successful application made Connecticut eligible for approximately $17 million over the next two years.
“To reach populations at higher risk, underserved, and disproportionately affected… it is critical for funded recipients and key partners to implement a coordinated and holistic approach that builds on culturally, linguistically, and locally tailored strategies and best practices to reduce… risk,” according to CDC application materials.
“The OHS HEC initiative is tailor-made for administration of this federal program, with an up-and-running organizational infrastructure to connect with these sought-after, at-risk populations,” OHS Executive Director Veltri said. “OHS already works with community health workers, local advisory groups, the clergy and faith community, and non-traditional partners to maximize outreach opportunities and impact local areas about the importance of good health.”
“It’s gratifying to have the CDC recognize the groundwork OHS has done to clear language, cultural, racial, and economic hurdles and confront underlying causes of health disparities,” Veltri added.
“Eliminating health disparities has always been a priority of the Department of Public Health as well as with every provider in Connecticut,” said Acting DPH Commissioner Gifford. “These funds also will advance the work of DPH in its ongoing efforts to fortify the state’s pandemic response and to make it more equitable in terms of testing procedures, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation strategies for those who have been exposed. Additionally, we will be coordinating vaccination programs to help mitigate additional virus spread, particularly among populations known to be high-risk, underserved, and hard to reach.”
With the $3.3 million dollars allocated in the grant, HECs will work in Connecticut neighborhoods on a number of issues including to reduce maternal and nutritional disparities, overcome transportation barriers to good health, and address food insecurity.
“The Waterbury HEC, operated through the Greater Waterbury Health Partnership, is thrilled by this exciting state-wide opportunity to work alongside eight other HECs on health equity through this CDC funding,” said Greater Waterbury Health Partnership Executive Director Angie Matthis. “Through this grant we will address better preventative measures in our community residents through health education, health literacy, vaccine outreach and increased connection to a medical home by expanding our team of 7 social workers and community health workers.”
“Through the continued commitment of OHS to the statewide HECs, this partnership is leveraging the power of many clinical-community collaborations to disseminate this work,” Matthis continued. “This really elevates these innovative partnerships and allows them to expand and serve where there is the most need.”
Federal monies will also advance the work of DPH in its ongoing efforts to fortify the state’s pandemic response and make it more equitable in terms of testing procedures, contact tracing for those who test positive, quarantine and isolation strategies for those exposed, and vaccination programs to mitigate additional virus spread, particularly among populations known to be high-risk, underserved, and hard to reach.
OHS and DPH have started working with the CDC toward a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to map out grant administration over the two-year life of the grant.
Contact: Laurence Grotheer at OHS
Chris Boyle at DPH
860-509-7106 or 860-706-9654