RMH gets grant to assess women’s, girls’ health

Rockingham Memorial Hospital has been selected as one of 16 institutions nationwide to receive a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Office on Women’s Health to improve the health of women and girls.

The U.S. Office on Women’s Health awarded a total of $1.6 million to launch Coalition for a Healthier Community, a new national initiative to improve community health policies and gender-based health care programs for women through collaborative efforts.

“These awards will help communities determine which chronic health conditions are most prevalent among their female residents, how to address the health needs of this  population, and then implement a plan to improve health outcomes,” said Frances Ashe-Goins, acting director for the Office on Women’s Health.

Selected coalitions each were awarded $100,000 to support a one-year community wide needs assessment. Funds were awarded to organizations that use a collaborative approach with existing local coalitions, according to RMH senior grant writer Cindy Reeves, who authored the grant application.

The grant will be administered in partnership with the Healthy Community Council of Harrisonburg-Rockingham County. This coalition was formed in 1996 and includes representatives from more than 30 organizations. For a list, click here.

One of the roles of the HCC is to conduct a community health assessment every five years to determine healthcare, social and education needs of the community, said Reeves.

In response to the grant award, the HCC has formed the Women and Girls’ Health Advisory Committee to examine data, create a strategic plan and submit an implementation plan to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health by July 2011, she said.

“Our goal is to develop promising practices that can be generalized nationally,” Reeves said. She serves as the project director for the grant.

Teresa Boshart-Yoder, director, RMH Women’s Services, serves as the Women and Girls’ Health Advisory committee chairwoman. HCC chair Kristi Lewis, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences of James Madison University, will serve as the grant evaluator.

“This grant will provide the team the opportunity to explore a gender analysis of the needs of women and girls in the community,” Lewis said. “By honing in on these needs, the HCC can identify areas of priority, and focus on development of services for this population. As chair of the HCC, I have seen the importance of getting appropriate needs assessment data and the effect it can have on funding that leads to services in the community.”

By 2010, nearly $11 million in funding had been secured for community health initiatives through grants and contracts using the HCC needs assessment data, Lewis added. “Initiatives such as the Community Health Center and Generations Crossing were developed based on the information gained through the assessment,” she said.

Reeves said the Office on Women’s Health grant has the potential to earn an additional $400,000 each year for five years if the implementation plan is approved—a total of $2 million to be used for programs supporting women and girls’ health in the local community.

“This grant is an excellent opportunity to improve women’s and girls’ health in our community,” Reeves said. “Being selected as one of just 16 grantees in the nation is a testament that we have a strong existing community coalition and women’s program.”

Reeves noted that community members are invited to participate in the HCC’s Women and Girls’ Health Advisory Committee. For more information, e-mail creeves@rhcc.com.

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.

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