Oct. 28, 2011: Mass. Announces $3 Mil in Federal Grants to 43 Cities, Towns to Promote Public Health

Grants to help communities focus on promoting healthier lifestyles

BOSTON — The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced $3 million in federal grants to expand community-based programs aimed at improving wellness and reducing health care costs in cities and towns across Massachusetts. The Administration will direct the funding to programs in 43 cities and towns to promote health and wellness initiatives to promote active lifestyles, and healthy eating, while reducing obesity and tobacco use.

“This funding will help our Administration partner with cities and towns to make people in Massachusetts healthier and safer,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Massachusetts was the model for national health care reform, and I thank the Obama Administration for helping us advance our health care infrastructure.”

“This investment expands local health services and will help prevent illness,” said Senator John Kerry.

"This funding will turn ounces of prevention into pounds of cure for Massachusetts residents. Promoting healthier lifestyles in our cities and towns will mean savings for our families and the state, and I thank Governor Patrick for his continued leadership to make Massachusetts a national model for smart, effective health care," said Congressman Ed Markey.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and will be administered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). The grants are designed to take a prevention-based approach to improving health and wellness in cities and towns across Massachusetts. Communities which will receive funding include:

Adams, Amherst, Barnstable, Belchertown, Brockton, Cambridge, Clarksburg, Dennis, Everett, Framingham, Great Barrington, Greenfield, Harwich, Hudson, Holyoke, Lee, Lenox, Lowell, Malden, Marlborough, Martha’s Vineyard, Medford, Melrose, Montague, Nantucket, North Adams, Northampton, Orange, Orleans, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Somerville, Springfield, Stockbridge, Wakefield, Waltham, Wellfleet, and Williamsburg.

“Every step we take to promote evidence-based disease prevention activities at the local level can have such a positive impact on improving health outcomes in our people while containing health care costs in our state,” said JudyAnn Bigby, MD, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. “These grants represent a significant boost to these efforts.”

A key focus of both awards is an expansion of the Mass in Motion Municipal Wellness and Leadership Program, which works at the local level to support policy and environmental change to reduce obesity, improve nutrition, and promote active living. The program is one component of the groundbreaking Mass in Motion statewide anti-obesity initiative implemented by the Patrick-Murray Administration in January 2009.

“I’m happy that Plymouth and Barnstable have been identified as Mass in Motion communities and will receive funding that will benefit all residents and promote a healthier, more productive lifestyle in both communities,” said Senate President Therese Murray. “I want to thank the Department of Public Health for securing this money for the entire Commonwealth and especially the towns in my district for working hard to promote that their communities are the best candidates for these funds.”

“Leading a healthy lifestyle is vitally important,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said. “These funds will promote disease-prevention research, help local communities participate in health-related activities, and provide citizens of our Commonwealth with an increased awareness of the importance of personal health.”

“Through our Mass in Motion initiative, we’ve been working with cities and towns across the state to help people eat better and move more for a healthier lifestyle,” said DPH Commissioner John Auerbach. “These new grants will provide invaluable additional resources to build upon that foundation and redouble our prevention efforts in even more communities in Massachusetts.”

The funding will also be used to develop an innovative partnership with select community-based health care providers aimed at reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol which can contribute to heart disease and stroke. Participating providers will receive technical assistance to improve their Electronic Health Records, in a way that will prompt clinical interventions against high blood pressure during patient office visits.

In other grant activities, DPH will collaborate with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) on Middlesex Community Transformation, an innovative project that seeks to integrate public health promotion into other regional and multi-sector planning efforts in the densely populated and ethnically diverse communities of Middlesex County.

“This grant will help us to link land use and transportation to healthier lifestyles," said MAPC Executive Director Marc Draisen. "What we build, and where and how we build it affects how people get around and what they eat. It’s about creating more opportunities for biking or walking, and providing better access to affordable, healthy foods. That’s the kind of community transformation the grant seeks to create.”
The nationwide Community Transformation Grants program was created by HHS through funding provided by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care law. Overall, HHS has awarded approximately $103 million in prevention grants to 61 states and communities, reaching more than 120 million Americans. More information on the Community Transformation Grants is available at www.cdc.gov/communitytransformation.

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