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Grant to address health disparities in Johnson County
‘This is really the sort of work that we look at as innovative, as exciting’
IOWA CITY — Johnson County Public Health has received grant money to address health disparities within the community.
The department’s Community Health Division is one of 40 recipients nationwide to receive $125,000 in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The funding comes from the CDC’s “Closing the Gap with Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Plans” grant program. The goal of the program is to accelerate strategies that prevent and reduce chronic disease among people experiencing health disparities, according to the CDC.
Sam Jarvis, community health manager for Johnson County Public Health, said to his knowledge this is the first time Johnson County has received grant funding from this newer program. This is a one-year funding opportunity, and the intention is to have a plan that is “shovel ready” once the year is up, he said.
“This is really the sort of work that we look at as innovative, as exciting, and really what we hope to be able to address the social determinants of health,” Jarvis said.
Social determinants of health are non-medical factors — such as where someone lives, education access, health care access, economic stability and social context — that impact health outcomes.
“It’s really looking at what are the root causes of problems,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis said it can be difficult for individuals to navigate the health care system, transportation and housing, among other aspects that might be barriers.
“We’re wanting to develop a program that can help address and navigate those areas,” Jarvis said.
Johnson County Public Health will create a leadership team to help guide and support the creation of a plan for community health workers to help address chronic disease in underserved populations within the county.
Karrey Shannon, community health nurse, and Lisa Parlato, chronic disease prevention specialist — will be spearheading the project.
Community health workers were chosen because they can help residents navigate the barriers that prevent them from achieving better health outcomes, Jarvis said. Community health workers also are familiar with the county and services offered, he added.
Addressing social determinants of health is fundamental for improving health and reducing long-standing inequities in health, according to Johnson County Public Health.
“Certainly it escapes no one that many of these items, many of the topics and areas, likely worsened during the pandemic,” Jarvis said. “It’s important to be able to have the answer or a solution to be able to address those.”
Jarvis said the CDC has indicated there could be funding that follows the accelerator plan grant program.
“Many communities across the U.S. are developing these shovel ready plans, so to speak, and there will, hopefully, be funding for implementation dollars in the future,” Jarvis said.
Johnson County Public Health hopes to see the implementation of the community health worker program in the county, Jarvis said.
As information is collected throughout the one-year planning period, Jarvis said the goal is to share this with the community and organizations who can help address some of the barriers and develop solutions.
“Certainly, there are a tremendous amount of amazing partners in Johnson County … that are doing a lot of amazing work, who are already really advocating for those changes,” Jarvis said. “We’re certainly not wanting to detract from that at all, but hopefully, enhance and provide support for those arguments.”
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