For Immediate Release:
December 6, 2017

CONTACT: Susan Lamontagne at or 631 899-4780

RCHN Community Health Foundation Awards Grants to Launch Innovative Approaches to Improve Community Health in Five States

Programs in Boston, Boise (ID), Chicago, Los Angeles, and Nogales (AZ) awarded $125,000 each as part of national strategy to help community health centers remove health barriers and reduce disparities

NEW YORK – As part of its strategy to help community health centers identify and create sustainable approaches to improve the health of vulnerable communities and advance health equity, the RCHN Community Health Foundation is pleased to announce that it has awarded $625,000 in grants to community health centers in five different states. The projects, which are designed to be replicated at other health centers if successful, will:

  • Improve the availability of fresh, wholesome food in an Idaho community that lost its only neighborhood grocery store, and similarly, in an Arizona border community;
  • Remediate housing conditions that undermine children’s health in South Los Angeles;
  • Improve mental health care and reduce incarceration for patients with serious mental illnesses in South Chicago; and
  • Reduce avoidable ER visits and hospitalizations for transgender and publicly insured patients who grapple with substance use and mental illnesses in Boston.

“We are thrilled to work with community health centers to strengthen the backbone of our nation’s safety net,” said Feygele Jacobs, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation. As part of the grant process, the foundation works with community health centers to develop best practices at the local level which can be replicated at other health centers across the country. “Our goal is to help community health centers  transform the health of vulnerable communities by tackling disparities and  improving systems of care.”

The foundation’s five grantees and a brief description of their projects are:

Access Community Health Network, Chicago (ACCESS)

ACCESS has launched Chicago’s first pilot program to improve care for patients struggling with severe mental illness and trauma in the city’s South and West sides. The program integrates primary care and mental health and substance abuse treatment with housing and employment support services. “For anyone grappling with social determinants of health such as housing, food and employment insecurity, maintaining their health is a constant challenge; and for those struggling with severe mental illness and substance-related conditions, it’s an even greater challenge,” said ACCESS CEO Donna Thompson. ACCESS serves more than 180,000 patients across 36 sites in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

Fenway Health, Boston (Fenway)

In an effort to reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations among LGBT patients with substance use and mental health challenges, Fenway Health is introducing walk-in access to behavioral health services, low-barrier Medication Assisted Treatment, and tailored patient education and case management. “As a leader in caring for LGBT people, we will apply our culturally affirming approach to help patients who are transgender or insured by MassHealth avoid unnecessary hospitalization and ER visits for treatment of behavior health or substance use disorders,” said Fenway’s President and CEO Stephen L. Boswell, MD, FACP.

Idaho Primary Care Association, Boise, ID (Idaho PCA)

When the only grocery store serving the neighborhoods near the Terry Reilly Health Services location at 16th Street in Nampa closed its doors, it created a food desert and placed a community with few transportation options at risk. In response, the Idaho PCA, Terry Reilly, and other community partners are launching the “Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program” (FVRx) to encourage health care providers to write prescriptions for fresh foods, empower patients to acquire food and cooking skills, and benefit local food retailers and farmers by increasing demand for fresh fruits and vegetables. “A diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables is a cure for hunger and the best medicine to control diabetes and stay healthy,” said Idaho PCA CEO Yvonne Ketchum-Ward. “This grant will help us test the best ways to get fresh foods to people who live in one of the worst food deserts in Nampa.”

Mariposa Community Health Center, Nogales, AZ (Mariposa)

With diabetes on the rise, Mariposa has grappled with how to support healthy eating in their low-income, Mexican-American community where food insecurity is prevalent and diets don’t often include fresh foods. Working with the community partners including the local food bank and farmer’s market, Mariposa will make healthy foods available through a fruits and vegetable prescription program that will provide home assessments by community health workers, cooking classes, and transportation for patients to participating markets and grocery stores. “A diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables is the best medicine to control diabetes, which is a growing concern in the Latino community,” said Mariposa Senior Director of Community Health Services Patty Molina. The goal is to improve blood sugar control for people with uncontrolled diabetes with strategies to involve the whole family to help patients stick with the program.

St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, Los Angeles (St. John’s)

To reduce the burden of asthma and other disease exacerbated by substandard housing, St. John’s is launching Healthy Homes, Healthy Kids to address asthma triggers in  the homes of children living in South Los Angeles. Working with Strategic Actions for a Just Society, the program will engage landlords and city housing agencies to identify and remediate home health hazards including mold, lead paint chips, dust mites, leaky pipes, rodents, and more. “When children live in substandard housing, we see chronic sinusitis, chronic ear infections, and extreme difficulty controlling asthma,” said St. John’s CEO and President Jim Mangia. “Our new program will provide a prescription for healthier housing to hundreds of children in South Los Angeles.”

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The RCHN Community Health Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation established to support community health centers through strategic investment, outreach, education, and cutting-edge health policy research. The only foundation in the U.S. dedicated solely to community health centers, RCHN CHF builds on a long-standing commitment to providing accessible, high-quality, community-based healthcare services for underserved and medically vulnerable populations.