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October 25, 2011

$3.6M grant to help create healthier community

The Medical Center, the Monroe County Department of Public Health, and numerous community partners have been awarded a five-year, $3.6 million Community Transformation Grant by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The funding will be used to develop HEART (Health Engagement and Action for Rochester’s Transformation), a comprehensive initiative to improve the health of Monroe County residents by creating a community environment that supports healthy behaviors, thus preventing chronic disease and reducing health care costs.

The Rochester site is one of only 15 communities nationwide to receive funding. An additional 20 states were also funded to implement evidence-based health policy changes.

Created by the Affordable Care Act, the Community Transformation Grants program supports communities and states in tackling the root causes of poor health, tobacco use, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and management of chronic disease, so that Americans can lead healthier, more productive lives. HEART will combine strategies to address the entire county, with targeted initiatives in a particularly impoverished area, the city’s Crescent. HEART also will focus on the unusually large deaf population in Monroe County, seeking to develop models inclusive of special needs populations.

HEART will be led by a leadership team that includes community stakeholders and  chaired by Monroe County Department of Public Health Director Andrew Doniger. It will be supported by an expert team chaired by the Medical Center’s Thomas Pearson, an international expert in heart disease prevention and director of the National Center for Deaf Health Research. The leadership team includes representation of five community coalitions addressing HEART target strategies and the African American and Latino Health Coalitions.

“This funding will give a tremendous boost to our community’s hard work to reduce the terrible toll of chronic diseases through policy and environmental change,” says Nancy Bennett, project director of HEART and director of the Medical Center’s Center for Community Health. “It will also help us to focus on at-risk, high-need populations.”

Health care strategies include an innovative approach to support intensive behavioral counseling in health centers and support for baby-friendly prenatal care. In schools, the Rochester City School District and the Rochester School for the Deaf will implement Coordinated School Health Plans, blueprints for creating healthy school environments. The Department of Community and Preventive Medicine will perform a comprehensive evaluation in concert with the CDC.

“The impact this grant will have on the community can only be achieved through Rochester’s unique collaborative spirit,” says Medical Center CEO Bradford Berk.

“This is another opportunity for the University of Rochester Medical Center, the Center for Community Health, the Monroe County Department of Public Health, and all our valued partners to embrace a model of community health improvement that emphasizes prevention, an approach that is critical to the future health of this region,” Berk says.

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