Left to right: Larry Warner (Strategic Initiative Officer: Healthy Lives, RI Foundation), Neil Steinberg (President & CEO, RI Foundation), Ana Novais (Executive Director, RIDOH), Jennifer Hawkins (Executive Director, ONE|NB), Robert McMahon (Board Chair, ONE|NB), Allyson Plantz (Chief of Staff, ONE|NB), Lorraine Lalli (Board member, ONE|NB), Rochelle Lee (Board member, ONE|NB), Elmer Stanley (Board member, ONE|NB), Allegra Scharff (Community Building Manager, ONE|NB), and Kimberly Dennin (AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer, ONE|NB).

$3.6M in grants to combat health disparities announced by Rhode Island Foundation

Article published by the Providence Journal on Friday, October 19, 2018. Read more about this story on Latino Public Radio, and PBN.

The grants, to six nonprofit organizations, will compliment efforts by the state Department of Health and other entities to reduce rates of illness and chronic disease that are higher in poorer areas of the state.

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — Rhode Island Foundation president and CEO Neil D. Steinberg on Friday morning announced $3.6 million in foundation grants aimed at reducing health disparities in more than a dozen Rhode Island town and cities.

The grants, to six recipients, will complement efforts by the state Department of Health and other entities to reduce rates of illness and chronic disease that are higher in poorer areas of the state. People of color and with those with lower levels of education are disproportionately affected.

“Roughly 75 percent of your health status is influenced by social, economic and environmental factors related to where you live,” Steinberg told state, local and community leaders during a gathering at Progreso Latino. “Living a healthy life is more likely when you are part of a community that promotes health and healthy choices.”

“By working to address the underlying factors in communities that have the great effects on health outcomes, these grant recipients and Rhode Island’s Health Equity Zones are working to ensure that each and every Rhode Islander has an equal opportunity to live a long, full, healthy life,” health department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, who is recovering from a sports injury, said in a media release distributed at the announcement.

Each of the six beneficiaries selected from 39 applicants will receive $600,000. They are: Progreso Latino; ONE Neighborhood Builders, Providence; South County Health, South Kingstown; Thundermist Health Center of West Warwick; Thundermist Health Center of Woonsocket; and the Women’s Resource Center, Newport.

“There is massive need,” said Progreso Latino executive director Mario Bueno. “A large percentage of residents live in poverty and are not fluent in English. They are disproportionately affected by social, economic and health disparities.”

Steinberg said the ambition of the grants and the efforts they enhance are “improving heath outcomes for Rhode Islanders, providing better healthcare, lower costs. … The strategies include increasing primary-care access, utilization and the quality of the care. Expanding alternative-care models and collaborations … and addressing the social determinants of health.”

Also, “improve the patient experience. Any of us — any of you — who have been patients know it’s not easy to navigate … how complex the healthcare system is. You couldn’t take a blank piece of paper and come up with something that’s more complex.”

Ana Novais, the health department’s executive director, said the grants “recognize the foundational work that we’ve been talking about as a health department through the health equity zones, the focus on the social determinants of health. … We can indeed make a difference. It is not a dream, it’s a reality that can be done when people and communities come together.”

Said Bueno: “It takes a village, and that’s why the health equity zones are so important, and that’s why this investment is so important to our multiple communities.”

The Journal has examined health disparities in stories and series, most recently earlier this month in “Health disparities in R.I.: Wellness tied to race, income, education and ZIP code.”

— gwmiller@nullprovidencejournal.com

(401) 277-7380

On Twitter: @GWayneMiller