March 16, 2005
By GINNY WRAY
Bulletin Staff Writer
The Harvest Foundation awarded two grants on Tuesday, March 15, targeting health and welfare initiatives for area residents.
The Martinsville/Henry County Coalition for Health & Wellness was given $4,560,783 over five years to launch an initiative to improve access to health care for the uninsured and underinsured, and to provide health, education and wellness programs in the area.
Also, the Henry County Department of Public Safety-Henry County/Martinsville High School Firefighter Program was given $168,750 over two years for a community volunteer recruitment and training program.
The health and wellness coalition is being created, according to Barbara Jackman, interim executive director. She said she anticipates that the not-for-profit organization will be operating by summer and its programs may be in place in the fall.
Harry Cerino, executive director of The Harvest Foundation, said a local advisory board chaired by Dr. Ed Overan, director of the Henry-Martinsville Health Department, has been working on the idea.
It will target two primary areas, Cerino said. The first is health education and wellness with programs related to nutrition, exercise, diabetes management and other areas for residents and health care providers.
The second area, he said, is to help residents who do not have medical insurance or who are underinsured.
According to Jackman, the coalition's goals are:
To ensure that the area is competitive in obtaining grants for programs in wellness, disease prevention, health care access and health care coordination, particularly for people who are uninsured and underinsured.
To create a case management program to help the uninsured and underinsured with chronic diseases, such as hypertension, get access to primary care and medications, and educate them about their conditions.
To work with existing community organizations to develop, implement and refine health-related programs for residents, education and health care services, including preventive services.
The coalition will pursue grant money to begin programs and also be an umbrella organization for programs such as Medassist and Healthy Community Initiative, Jackman said.
Medassist is partially funded through a grant and works through Piedmont Community Services to provide access to free medications for residents, she said. The Healthy Community Initiative works through area schools and the Boys & Girls Clubs, among other organizations.
The $4.5 million grant is for five years. After that, Jackman said, the coalition will pursue grants through private foundations and the government.
The grant for the Henry County-Martinsville High School Firefighter Program will continue the program that began this year, Cerino said. Classes are held in high schools to interest students in becoming fire and rescue volunteers, he said.
It is a conditional grant that requires 25 percent matching funds in 2006 and 66 percent in 2007, he said.
"We understand the schools are behind this" and will include the funds in budgets submitted this spring, he added.
Steve Eanes, Henry County director of public safety, was not available for comment.
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