CDC Awards $4 Million to EMHS to Improve Health in Maine

Brewer, Maine – September 25, 2014 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded a $4.05 million cooperative agreement to EMHS under the “Partnerships to Improve Community Health” Program. EMHS will lead a collaborative of eleven Healthy Maine Partnerships and other strategic community partners, serving seven northern Maine counties, in an ambitious three year initiative to improve population health in the region. Their work will reach more than 400,000 people.
The Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) awards are part of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) program to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities, and control health care spending. The CDC will administer the grants, subject to availability of funds.
The EMHS collaborative, called the Northern Maine Rural Collaborative for Healthy Communities (NMRC), will take a community-oriented approach to four conditions that affect health. They will work to improve access to healthy foods; increase opportunities for physical activity; prevent and manage chronic diseases; and educate and empower people to lead healthier lives.
The NMRC coalition based their plan on the region’s health needs identified in the 2014 EMHS Community Health Needs Assessment. The population of northern Maine is the oldest in the U.S. and suffers from high rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and multiple chronic diseases. Roughly one-third of Maine’s population live in this rural region.
“Poverty, isolation, access to nourishing foods, and limited fitness opportunities, especially during long winters, can affect quality of life for people of all ages in this region. These factors can create significant health disparities and numerous barriers to well-being,” says M. Michelle Hood, FACHE, president and CEO of EMHS. “This award will enable our collaborative to address these underlying issues by expanding access to healthy community resources as well as access to quality care.”
Within three years, the collaborative’s goal is to measurably transform community conditions that make it possible for people to lead healthier lives. Their aims include:
  • Strengthening the community’s capacity to continuously improve health, reduce chronic diseases, and reduce risk factors
  • Improving the quality of life for residents of these northern Maine communities
  • Preventing premature deaths and disability; and
  • Reducing medical care costs while reinvesting savings in long-term, primary prevention efforts.
“Rural Maine communities share similar challenges to good community health,” says Doug Michael, MPH, chief community health officer for EMHS. “Our power is in our partnership. By working together, across many sectors, and bringing many to the task, we will make lasting community enhancements that make it possible for thousands of people to lead healthier lives.”
Overall, HHS awarded $50.3 million in new grant awards to 39 local health agencies. PICH is the newest generation in CDC’s long history of community efforts to create and strengthen healthy environments that make it easier for people to make healthy choices and take charge of their health. 

About EMHS
EMHS, based in Brewer, Maine is an integrated health delivery system serving the State of Maine. The system’s broad range of services includes eight hospitals, physician practices, long-term care facilities, home health and hospice, and ground and air emergency transport services. EMHS members work collaboratively with each other and with other community organizations to provide our patients with the right care, at the right time, and in the right place. For more information, visit the EMHS website at www.emhs.org.
About the Northern Maine Rural Collaborative for Healthy Communities (NMRC)
Convened by EMHS, the NMRC is a broad and experienced collaborative including eleven Healthy Maine Partnerships (HMP’s) and other strategic partners serving seven northern Maine counties, including: The Maine CDC, United Way of Eastern Maine, Wabanaki Public Health, Bangor Public Health and Community Services, Good Shepherd Food Bank, the Maine Network for Healthy Communities, the Hancock County Planning Commission and the Maine Public Health Association. The region of focus for this initiative includes the counties of Aroostook, Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo and Washington.
About the Healthy Maine Partnerships
The Healthy Maine Partnerships is a collaborative effort of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Maine Office of Substance Abuse, and the Maine Department of Education. At the State level, the Healthy Maine Partnerships are programs and organizations dedicated to promoting health all over Maine. These statewide partners support the 27 local HMPs with training, technical assistance, evaluation, program development, and media help in order to reach the communities at the local level. More information can be found at http://www.healthymainepartnerships.org/.
About the Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH)
The CDC’s Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) funding opportunity supports implementation of evidenced- and practice-based strategies that address previously-identified community gaps and needs within a defined jurisdiction to reduce the prevalence of chronic disease and related risk factors. The PICH is managed by the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), the forefront of the nation's efforts to prevent and control chronic diseases. More information can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/.

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