Barnstable County to benefit from $42M state-wide preventative health care initiative

Local facilitator to divvy up first $250,000 between six health orgs

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Monday announced a $42 million statewide grant to promote health and wellness among the citizens of the commonwealth. The money will be administered through the state's Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund, a first-in-the-nation effort, according to the DPH.

Across the state, nine facilitators, including the Barnstable County Department of Human Services here on Cape, have been named to coordinate funding and programs with their community partners.

The funding is aimed at promoting prevention with an end goal of lowering health-related costs. "By addressing the specific health needs that cause the most common chronic illnesses, we can reduce long term costs of health care," said Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz.

The community-based partnerships will work together to create programs with a health and wellness focus and work towards reducing the rates of certain preventable health conditions.  According to the grantee summaries provided on the trust fund website, the Barnstable County group, covering the towns of Barnstable, Mashpee, Falmouth and Bourne, will focus on health issues "relevant to the local population, including hypertension, falls among the elderly and diabetes."

As the facilitating entity, the Barnstable County Department of Human Services will work with five other organizations, Community Health Center of Cape Cod, Duffy Health Center, Hyannis Harbor Community Health Center, My Health Coalition of Cape Cod and the YMCA of Cape Cod.

According to the DPH, $250,000 will be awarded for the first phase of work. In a release, DPH said, based on their "readiness to implement intervention in community and clinical settings", each group may be eligible for further funding of $900,000 to $1.5 million each year for three years.

"This funding addresses the health of the whole person and recognizes that the services and conditions in the community are equally important as what happens in the doctor’s office," said Rebekah Gewirtz, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association.

The Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund was established by the state legislature in 2012.


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