For Immediate Release - June 28, 2012

Programs to Address Asthma, Diabetes and Other Chronic Diseases Receive $600,000 From AG’s Office

BOSTON — Four community health centers have been awarded a total of $600,000 to support Community Health Workers (“CHWs”) effort to reach underserved populations throughout Massachusetts, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.  The funding will help specific efforts to address asthma, diabetes, and cancer, as well as helping to reduce emergency room visits.

The funding, provided by the Attorney General’s Office as a result of a nationwide settlement, will support centers serving Lynn, Worcester, rural Hampden and Hampshire counties, and Cape Cod to support or expand their use of Community Health Workers (CHWs) as part of health care teams serving underserved communities. Community Health Workers are members of a community with general health services training who are chosen by an organization to provide basic medical care to their community.  

“Community Health Workers have unique skills to work with diverse populations and ensure patients receive appropriate care,” AG Coakley said.  “This funding will support programs to address children’s asthma, prevent diabetes, and reduce emergency room visits, all of which are vital to promoting public health and reducing health care costs.  We are pleased to provide these resources to support this work at community health centers.”

Each award under the Community Health Worker Grant Program provides up to $75,000 annually for two years.  The following community health centers have been awarded funding for the grant period of July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2014:

  • Lynn Community Health Center, Lynn MA, to address asthma in children;
  • Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, Worcester MA, to reduce emergency room visits;
  • Hilltown Community Health Center, Worthington MA, to promote self-management and prevention of diabetes and other chronic diseases; and
  • Community Health Center of Cape Cod, Mashpee MA, to address cancer and chronic disease in women.

Funding for the Community Health Worker Grant Program comes from a multi-state settlement with pharmaceutical manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline and SB Pharmco.  The nationwide settlement authorizes Attorneys General to use the proceeds on health care related projects.  The grant program complements the AG’s companion initiative to fund CHW training at three training centers across the Commonwealth.

The four grantees proposed plans to utilize one or more CHWs to address a demonstrated need of the community.  Each applicant identified goals to increase its capacity as a community health center, deploy CHWs to help patients receive appropriate, quality and culturally competent health services, relate its program efforts to the identified community need, and improve access to care and quality in ways that can reduce health disparities and control costs.

By applying their unique understanding of the experiences, language and culture of the community they serve, CHWs can play a role in improving access to health care services and the quality of care received.  They can also help control health care costs by increasing preventative care and treatment adherence.

CHWs perform a variety of functions in numerous contexts, including:

  • culturally appropriate health care information, education and informal counseling;
  • intervention or peer support on specific health issues or diseases;
  • direct services, such as health screenings; and
  • translation and interpretation services

The Community Health Worker Grant program is part of a series of health-related grant opportunities offered by the Attorney General’s Office.  Previous programs include the Prescription Drug Assistance Program, the Project YES Wellness program and the Promoting Health and Reducing Healthcare Disparities Grant program.

This program is designed to support and complement the Attorney General’s strategic health care priorities, including  controlling health care costs; improving health care quality; supporting health care reform; improving chronic disease management; reducing health disparities; and promoting wellness of vulnerable populations.  These priorities are reflected in the Attorney General’s work in the Community Benefits Program, Health Disparities Council; Health Care Quality and Cost Council, and the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety.

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