Texas Health Resources has awarded $5 million in grants to help organizations address crucial needs in their communities, many of them made more urgent by the stress COVID-19 has placed on North Texans. Screening for anxiety, expanding community gardens to address food insecurity and assisting with job training are among the issues that the Texas Health Community Impact grants will address.

Among those receiving grants is Children’s Advocacy Center for North Texas (Lewisville) ($232,800). Plans include expanding several efforts including the “Difficulties in Emotional Regulation Scale Survey” and “Be Strong Parent Café,” and expanding the pantry.

The grants are made with input from leaders in communities around North Texas.  They are targeted at priorities that were identified in the Texas Health Community Health Needs Assessment and confirmed with data from community readiness surveys. The grants are a data-driven, outcome-focused approach to addressing social determinants of health upstream before they become serious problems.

“These issues, such as food insecurity and social isolation, have been longstanding problems in these communities and have only become more critical because of the pandemic,” said Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health. “Texas Health Community Impact is about reaching beyond the walls of our hospitals and improving the lives of people in the communities we serve.”

This is the second round of Texas Heath Community Impact grants. The funds go to community organizations in five geographic regions of North Texas. This series of grants builds on the successes of the first round of grants. Most organizations that received awards when the program was launched in 2019 are receiving funding in the second round.

“The Texas Health Community Impact initiative identifies specific ZIP codes to address social issues that often result in conditions such as chronic disease and premature death,” said Catherine Oliveros, DrPH, Texas Health’s vice president of Community Health Improvement. “We’re uniting with agencies in different areas of North Texas – local schools, faith communities and health clinics – to address problems through our collective efforts.”

In deciding areas with the greatest need this year, Texas Health’s five regional Community Impact Leadership Councils looked through the lens of COVID-19 and focused on issues that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Counseling for anxiety, for example, has become an urgent need throughout North Texas because of the pandemic. Last year 52% of behavioral health organizations in the Dallas/Rockwall region saw a greater demand for mental health and addiction services, according to the Center for Integrative Counseling and Psychology. The center provides services to those who cannot afford professional treatment. Beyond Blue, a collaborative effort between multiple agencies in the region, will use the impact grant to screen and treat anxiety as well as add community case workers to better reach those who cannot access help.

While evaluating community health needs, Texas Health also learned more about the areas where seniors and youth lacked access to food and were isolated, leading to depression and physical problems.

“We are strategically investing in partnerships and innovations that will move the needle in health disparities and health outcomes,” said David Tesmer, chief community and public policy officer for Texas Health. “Our inaugural grant cycle resulted in many successes, and we are excited that with the additional $5 million now being invested we will continue to strengthen promising programs that have potential to disrupt – and improve – the way health and well-being are addressed in the areas that need these types of solutions the most.”

The grants are just part of Texas Health’s contribution to the communities it serves. In 2019, the system provided about $877 million in charity care and community benefits. That includes $259 in charity care, $558 million unreimbursed Medicare; and $60 million in community benefits, for programs provided in response to identified community needs and in volunteer hours.

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