Health system introduces $80M grant program



A national health system with several health care facilities in the region is introducing a new five-year, $80 million grant program that will focus on decreasing tobacco use and obesity in the communities it serves.

Livonia-based Trinity Health said its new corporate Transforming Communities grant program will include grants, loans, community matching dollars and services focused specifically on policy, systems and environmental changes that reduce tobacco use and obesity, which it said are the “leading drivers of preventable chronic diseases and health care costs in the United States.”

Trinity Health will be seeking proposals from multi-sector partners located in communities where Trinity Health has facilities.

The organization said potential partners include community groups, businesses, social service agencies, schools and others.

The expectation is that the collaboration will leverage system, hospital and community expertise, funding and other resources to improve community health.

“The collaborations we are enabling through these new programs align with the work of a people-centered health system and will be very meaningful to the people and communities we serve," said Bechara Choucair, M.D., senior vice president for Safety Net and Community Health.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 21 states with 88 hospitals and 126 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities.

The system has multiple facilities in Grand Rapids and Muskegon.

Inaugural grants

The inaugural Transforming Communities grants will provide six collaborative community partnerships with up to $500,000 each per year, for up to five years, to develop detailed, community-specific plans to address childhood obesity, healthy living and smoking (phase one), technical, planning and investment assistance (ongoing), and learning opportunities that will support program expansion in future years.

In phase two of the program, low-interest investment loans supporting interventions related to social determinants of health will be made to community development financial institutions within the communities served by Trinity Health hospitals.

They will be used to address specific issues including access to food, housing circumstances and early childhood issues.

AmeriCorp partnership

Trinity Health is also introducing a new Community Health Coordinator program, which will be supported by AmeriCorp staff.

The Community Health Coordinator program will help tackle a significant driver of health care costs by providing support services to address the root causes of poor health for those who are most vulnerable in Trinity Health communities, and especially the poor.

“This program will help us advance health and quality of life by addressing the root causes of poor health,” said Choucair.

Fifty AmeriCorps members will be trained and strategically engaged as community health coordinators.

In these roles, Trinity Health said they would provide health care navigation services to at-risk populations and individuals who may be high-risk, significantly underserved or who are frequent health care service users.

Other participating organizations are Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, ChangeLab Solutions, Georgia Health Policy Center, IFF (formerly known as Illinois Facilities Fund), The Public Good Projects and The Reinvestment Fund.

Trinity Health said its AmeriCorp staff and the participating organizations will work with awardees to:

  • Reduce smoking rates
  • Reduce youth obesity rates
  • Improve access to nutrition and physical activity opportunities
  • Achieve better health, better care, and lower costs for high-cost, complex patients, especially vulnerable populations and the poor
  • Reduce health disparities
  • Enhance community wellness and resiliency
  • Increase program sustainability by optimizing partnerships and leveraging local match dollars

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