Grant will help improve

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 15, 2001

health among youth


Staff Writer

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Pike County will be improving the health among its youth with the aid of a federal Rural Health Grant.

Monday afternoon, entities officially announced the award of a $600,000 grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services to the Charles Henderson Child Health Center for the development of a comprehensive school health program for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Terry Watkins, Community Health Education Director for Edge Regional Medical Center and CHCHC, said the grant has been a networking effort between several agencies that have worked together to ensure all children in Pike County are receiving appropriate medical care.

In addition to CHCHC and ERMC, partners include Troy City and Pike County Schools, Troy Charity League, American Cancer Society and Troy Housing Authority.

Jimmy Floyd, director of the CHCHC, said his facility is proud to be a part of this program.

"I think this will really add to our community," Floyd said.

Dr. Patricia Block, a local pediatrician, said the grant funds will allow physicians to coordinate services with the schools, which will be able to identify children with health needs, and provide prevention and education information for area children.

"We’re excited about this grant and proud to be a part of it," Block said.

Local physicians and health professionals have expressed concerns for a variety of health issues that impact Pike County children, including a rising number of children with chronic lung diseases, such as asthma and allergies; parents and children who do not comply with physician’s instructions; poor dental care; an insufficient number of school nurses; lack of cohesiveness with local health resources in the community; lack of health screening equipment; obesity and eating disorders; teen pregnancy and inconsistent parenting support programs.

Mark Bazzell, assistant superintendent of the Pike County school system, said the need for assisting children is evident.

"In our system, 84 percent of the students are receiving free or reduced lunches," Bazzell said of those at the poverty level.

"We know this grant is going to help us fulfill a need."

State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, worked to help secure the grant for his district. His interest was the provision of a van that will transport handicapped children and their parents to medical appointments.

"To me, that’s very important," Boothe said during the press conference. "They, now, will have access to quality medical care."

The grant will also provide funding for an additional school nurse in the county school system, a health specialist (social worker) to follow up on services being provided, computers and printers, a health tracking system, assessment of health risk behavior and parenting components.

Rural Health Grants are available to support the direct delivery of health care and related services, to expand existing services or to enhance health service delivery through education, promotion and prevention programs. They are designed to expand or enhance the availability of essential# health services in rural areas and develop health service delivery networks.

The grant will be paid out over a period of three years, beginning May 1 and will go through April 30, 2004. The total approved budget for the first year is $301,148, with $198,448 of that from federal funds and $102,700 in local matching funds and in-kind services.

David Loving, CEO of ERMC, said only 12 grant applications were approved nationwide and over 200 applications were filed.

Applications were considered on the following criteria: justification of need, planning and community involvement; project development, goals and objectives, time lines; project management and network member commitment; evaluation and replication; sustainability and budget.