Brazos Valley to receive grant for Texas Accountable Communities for Health initiative
“This is not taking care of people when they’re sick. This is trying to do all those things outside of the doctor’s office to prevent them from getting sick, to prevent them from needing to go to the hospital.”
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -The Brazos Valley is one of six areas in the state that will receive a portion of an $8 million grant from the Episcopal Health Foundation. The Episcopal Health Foundation is a nonprofit based in Houston that is focused on improving the overall health of individuals and families in Texas, not just healthcare.
The program is called the Texas Accountable Communities for Health Initiative (TACHI), and aims to build community-based partnerships to address the root causes of poor health like the need for safe housing, food security, safe places to exercise and more.
Locally the Episcopal Health Foundation is partnering with several groups to research and developed a plan of action to address the health needs of the community. The Texas A&M Health Science Center will lead the initiative. Community-based partners include St. Joseph Health, Health Point health centers, and Project Unity.
As of now, what portion of the $8 million grant that the Brazos Valley area will receive is undetermined. Funding will be distributed based on the specific needs of the community, over a four-year period.
Brian Sasser, chief communications officer for the Episcopal Health Foundation says the focus of the grant is to improve the health of people in the community before serious health challenges arise. He says going to the doctor regularly is only a small part of managing your health.
“People think that you’re only healthy if you go to the doctor and there are so many things outside of the doctor’s office that really affect your health. In fact, about 80 to 90 percent of your health is determined by all those things away from medical care,” said Sasser. " It’s where you live. It’s what you eat. It’s how you exercise and so all those things have a dramatic impact on your health.”
Sasser says a lot of focus will be placed on ways to prevent chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions that can be addressed outside of a healthcare setting.
“We spend all our focus and a lot of our money on only medical care,” said Sasser. “We’re trying to shift those resources a little bit to focus on all those other things, all those other underlying conditions that take place outside of a doctor’s office or a hospital.”
Sasser says it was important to partner with several community organizations to conduct a community needs assessment.
“There’s a hospital system, there’s academics and research. There’s a federally qualified health center that offers clinic services to those who may not have health insurance and there’s a social service group Project Unity, which knows the needs of the community,” said Sasser. “So they’re addressing what’s called the social determinants of health, all those things, all those conditions outside the doctor’s office that may lead to poor health to address those. You can’t just have one sector do it alone, so this is really a community-wide project with community partners who are looking at it from all angles, looking at health from all angles to see how they can best address those needs.”
Austin Rundberg, Bastrop County, Greater Northside in Houston, Gregg County, and Williamson County are also receiving a portion of the $8 million dollar grant.
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