Healthy Acadia and its sponsor, Mount Desert Island Hospital, have been awarded $176,870 to improve access to health care and to encourage healthy lifestyles in Southwest Harbor, Tremont, Swans Island and Frenchboro. The award comes in the form of a grant from the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) for a new program, “Community Care.”
Community Care involves the collaboration of MDI Hospital, Healthy Acadia, the Maine Sea Coast Mission, Harbor House Community Center, Community Health Center in Southwest Harbor, and Hancock County Planning Commission. Grant funding will support a community health worker based out of Harbor House who will provide assessment, outreach and education. Staff of the Maine Sea Coast Mission will provide similar services to the outer islands. The grant will also help establish a nurse care manager and care management program, called “Healthy For Life,” at the Community Health Center in Southwest Harbor.
“Our Community Care partners bring a tremendous amount of talent and experience to the table,” said Doug Michael, Partnership Director of Healthy Acadia. “We look to them to blend the best of health care with the best of community building ? all of which can lead to healthier citizens in our local communities. Community Care recognizes that much of what shapes our health happens within the community itself, at home, at work, at church, or within social networks.
“For many reasons, the people who are the very fabric of down east Maine - lobstermen, builders, and small business owners ? face health risks and problems with little or no access to health care, explained Mr. Michael. “This grant goes a long way towards helping our community overcome many of these barriers to good health.”
The project has three goals, according to Kathy Kaplan, RN-C, Director of Care Management at MDI Hospital and co-director of the project. “We plan to work within the community to better understand health issues and the barriers to healthy living,” said Ms. Kaplan. “We’ll also assist people who want to improve their health behaviors, and we’ll work to make lasting changes in clinical practices and in local communities that support healthy living.”
“We need to learn directly from people what barriers they face to healthy living in their family, their workplace or their community,” said Marty Lyons, Director of Harbor House Community Service Center. “We know that money is an issue, especially for the self-employed or seasonal workers. We also know that distance can be an issue for those living on the islands. What we don’t fully understand are the cultural and historic forces that come between people and good health. We will host community conversations to begin this process of discovery,” he added.
MeHAF, created in 2000, is Maine’s largest health care foundation. Their mission is to promote affordable and timely access to comprehensive, quality healthcare and to improve the health of every Maine resident. In particular, MeHAF targets strategies that serve the uninsured and medically underserved.