Community Health Centers Advancing Health Equity in Underserved Communities Awarded $900,000 from BD, Direct Relief, NACHC

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Dr. Danielle Cortez, Clinical Pharmacist at Northeast Valley Health Center, evaluates a patient.
Dr. Danielle Cortez, Clinical Pharmacist at Northeast Valley Health Center, a BD Helping Build Healthy Communities Award Winner, evaluates a patient. (Photo: Donnie Lloyd Hedden Jr. for Direct Relief, 2021)

BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), a leading global medical technology company, along with Direct Relief and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), is celebrating National Health Center Week (August 8-14) by honoring the six community health centers in the U.S. who earned this year’s Innovations in Care Award, recognizing their success in helping vulnerable patients manage complex chronic diseases and improve overall health.

  • Community health centers were established in the United States during the 1960s civil rights movement and are rooted in medically underserved communities.
  • Community health centers serve ~30 million patients annually.
  • 60% of community health center patients in the U.S. represent racial and ethnic minority groups, and 72% have family incomes at or below the poverty level.
  • Patients served by health centers tend to experience fewer disparities in healthcare outcomes, even after considering socio-economic and demographic factors. 
  • According to NACHC, uninsured people who live near a health center are less likely to have an unmet medical need and are less likely to visit the emergency room or have a hospital stay. Communities with a health center also experience lower infant mortality rates.

Each award winner received a $150,000 grant to expand their successful programs for providing quality care to at-risk populations. Their innovative approaches, detailed below, include offering culturally sensitive, team-based care; implementing new services like telehealth, which help patients overcome a lack of transportation and other barriers to care; and providing education and counseling to patients in their native language to ensure they understand how to take their medications safely.

The $900,000 in grant awards was provided through the BD Helping Build Healthy Communities™ initiative – a unique public-private partnership started in 2013, funded by BD and the BD Foundation, and implemented by Direct Relief and NACHC. Through 2023, BD and the BD Foundation have committed to investing $22.8 million in this initiative, furthering the company’s commitment to improving health equity by expanding access to care in under-resourced and under-represented communities. To date, the initiative has issued 48 grants to health centers in 20 states and has donated more than 38 million insulin syringes and pen needles to more than 1,300 community health centers and free and charitable clinics nationwide.

“Racial and ethnic minorities in the United States are less likely to receive preventive health services, experience worse health outcomes for certain conditions, and are statistically more likely to face barriers that make it more difficult to access quality care,” said BD Chairman, CEO and President Tom Polen. “Social investments in community health centers are one of the most effective ways to expand quality care to underserved patients in the United States, including racial and ethnic minorities, because these centers are located in high-need areas, are open to all regardless of their ability to pay, and have a well-documented history of delivering culturally relevant care to meet the special needs and priorities of their communities.”

The following award-winners were selected with guidance from a national panel of clinical pharmacists in the field of Medication Therapy Management:

  • Healthnet in Indianapolis, Indiana, is using its grant funding to provide expanded pharmacist visits and referral services for high-risk patients with diabetes or pre-diabetes, including proactive assessments to identify and address barriers to care, like lack of food or transportation.
  • Northeast Valley Health Corporation in San Fernando, California, is using its grant funding to ensure high-risk Latinx patients meet with a clinical pharmacist for medication reconciliation, adherence counseling and to offer assessments based on the social determinants of health (SDOH). Funding also enables a bilingual patient navigator to link patients with social services that address needs identified in the SDOH assessments.
  • Share Our Selves in Costa Mesa, California, is using its grant funding to enable patients living in shelters, particularly those who face multiple chronic conditions and take multiple, complex medications, to receive individualized pharmacist counseling via telehealth technology.
  • The University of Minnesota Community-University Health Care Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is using its funding to expand mobile health services for community members with diabetes, hypertension, depression, and those at high risk of poor outcomes related to COVID-19.
  • Wahiawa Center for Community Health in Wahiawa, Hawaii, is using its grant funding to support an integrated care team and care model to address chronic disease, particularly within Asian and Pacific Islander communities. This team approach seeks to improve medication adherence to prevent health complications associated with chronic disease and cultural, social, economic and environmental challenges like poor health literacy and a lack of food and housing.
  • Zufall Health Center in Dover, New Jersey, is using its grant funding to expand home monitoring care for at-risk patients who do not have access to equipment and supplies like blood glucose kits and blood pressure cuffs. Funding is also being used to deploy a dedicated care team that will tailor clinical interventions to meet each patient’s needs and support patients with education and online assistance in multiple languages, including Spanish.

“Direct Relief is privileged to work with NACHC and take part in this generous endeavor by BD to identify and reward community health centers whose staff are deeply committed to improving the health and lives of people with challenging health conditions,” said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief President and CEO.

“Health centers are innovators, healers and problem-solvers who reach beyond the walls of the conventional health care delivery system to not only prevent illness, but to address the causes of it in special populations — such as the homeless, the poor, agricultural and migrant workers, residents of public housing, those with limited English proficiency, and people living in rural areas,” said Tom Van Coverden, president & CEO at NACHC. “Private funding partnerships like this one are critical to putting health center public health innovations into action and ensuring health equity in hard-to-reach communities.”

For more information about the 2020 BD Helping Build Healthy Communities awardees, visit www.directrelief.org/bdhbhc.

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