Medford uses grants to find out how different people receive behavioral health care


Medford City officials want to know if behavioral health news and information on substance abuse programs are reaching townspeople who do not speak English as their primary language.

The city has hosted a number of online “listening sessions” in a variety of languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and Arabic to ask exactly these questions.

“The city is very curious about how communities that are traditionally non-English-speaking, how convenient these communities are to have access to behavioral health and other services,” said Collin MacGowan, responsible for the city’s program run by the Office of Prevention and Outreach will .

To this end, Medford has posted flyers across the city, particularly in high-immigrant neighborhoods, as well as community centers and religious institutions that serve the target population, and invites residents to attend the meetings.

“We target populations where people work, go to school, shop and live,” said MacGowan.

8 organizations share a $ 120,000 grant

The city was one of eight communities to receive a US $ 120,000 grant from Wakefield / Melrose Healthcare in 2020 as part of their Community Health Initiative. Projects began with the construction of the new Shields Surgery Center, an outpatient center built at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Medford to serve the city and neighboring communities.

The eight recipients include the health councils of three communities: Medford, Melrose and Wakefield, the City of Malden, The NAN Project, MetroNorth YMCA, the Joint Committee for Children’s Health in Everett, the Boys and Girls Club of Wakefield / Stoneham and the Riverside Project .

The nonprofits and communities were directed to use the funds to find ways to remove barriers and improve access to equity in local health care.

The grant is the first in a series of Community Health Initiative (CHI) awards presented as part of the state’s needs identification program, according to a press release from Melrose / Wakefield Health Care.

The CHI funds provide Massachusetts organizations with the opportunity to address the root causes of health inequality in communities across the state. The funds are committed to removing and removing barriers to health equity such as racism, poverty and power imbalances.

These awards will focus on behavioral health, specifically mental illness / mental health, and the social determinations of health that affect people at risk and the community, according to the press release.

Information events carried out

Through community-centered policies, systems, and approaches to environmental change, the grants help provide resources to engage residents and improve the quality of access to health care in Massachusetts. Regional and local organizations that applied for the scholarships and approved funds are related to the development of the Shields Surgery Center.

MacGowan, a behavioral medicine specialist at Wayside, wants to gather information from the meetings. A second grant will be made available through the health system once the city has completed the first phase of the project.

“The goal is to use the data we collect to organize and implement social marketing for culturally inclusive behavioral health,” said MacGowan.

The meetings, Culturally Competent Connections to Care, will serve to gather information on how selected communities have access to health care services.

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