UVM Medical Center

UVM Medical Center Tackles Barriers to Health with $350,000 in Community Grants

Spending is part of $930,000 fund to support local human service programs.


The University of Vermont Medical Center has awarded $350,000 in grants for community programs that address homelessness, substance abuse, mental health issues, children’s nutritional needs, chronic medical conditions and other physical and socioeconomic barriers to overall good health.

The program grants are part of $930,000 in spending through the Community Health Investment Fund for the 2019 fiscal year. The fund targets priority areas identified by the medical center’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) to improve the lives of people in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties. The CHNA, which is updated every three years, is created with extensive community input and includes a review of health data and public opinions covering a wide range of topics. For the most recent assessment (completed in 2016) 1,600 people were surveyed and focus groups and discussions were held with community members and leaders.

The 2016 CHNA identified the following areas as needing the most attention: affordable housing; economic opportunities; early childhood and family supports; access to healthy food; chronic medical conditions; healthy aging; mental health; oral health; sexually transmitted infections and teen births; and substance abuse.“We know that medical care is a small portion of a person’s health,” says Julie Cole, senior community benefits strategist for UVM Medical Center. “We’re supporting efforts in the community that impact the whole person.”

Burlington Housing Authority received $50,000 to support staffing for its Housing Retention Program which helps identify the underlying causes of clients missing rent payments and losing their places to live, and intervene before those outcomes occur.The funding “allows us to be able to serve more people,” says Sarah Russell, BHA’s director of housing retention and services. “We’re going to stop people from cycling back into homelessness. We can get ahead of it a little bit.”

Another $50,000 grant will allow Special Olympics Vermont to launch a pilot program for its participants with intellectual disabilities who haven’t addressed ongoing health issues or are at high risk for chronic diseases. The Healthy Communities program will expand health screenings before andduring events, coordinate assistance with appointments and treatment, and track athletes’ progress with care providers, says Sarah Lange, health programs manager for Special Olympics Vermont.

“This is something we’ve been thinking about for a few years,” she says. “We often see in these screenings that the same athletes come back year after year with the same unaddressed health issues.”

The other six organizations that recently received funding for their programs are:
  • Boys & Girls Club – Kid’s Café offers free hot meals and healthy snacks to members every evening. With the Healthy Habits program, children learn skills to prepare their own healthy, affordable meals in the future.
  • Howard Center – Street Outreach is a mobile program that connects people with social services they need. Program workers also respond to Burlington Police Department calls that involve social service needs.
  • Pathways Vermont – The Housing First Program finds permanent housing and provides intensive community-based support for people with disabilities who have long histories of homelessness or time in institutions.
  • Centerpoint Adolescent Treatment Services/NFI Vermont – Project Checkpoint is a screening and brief intervention program designed for young people struggling with substance use as well as mental, social and emotional health issues.
  • KidSafe Collaborative – The CHARM Team takes a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to working with pregnant women who abuse opiates and developing plans for substance abuse treatment, obstetrics and neonatal care, mental health support and social services.
  • ANEW Place – The 4-Phase Continuum of Care helps homeless individuals gain skills to make a successful transition to long-term wellness and independence.

About the University of Vermont Medical Center

The University of Vermont Medical Center is a 447-bed tertiary care regional referral center providing advanced care to approximately 1 million residents in Vermont and northern New York. Together with our partners at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, we are Vermont’s academic medical center. The University of Vermont Medical Center also serves as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties.

The University of Vermont Medical Center is a member of The University of Vermont Health Network, an integrated system established to deliver high quality academic medicine to every community we serve.

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