It’s a cold January morning in Springfield, MA. Melanie awakes feeling more fatigued than usual and with a thirst that can’t be quenched. She tries to ignore her mysterious symptoms as she feeds her children quickly, gets them off to school, and catches the bus to her first job of the day. Little does Melanie know that she’s pre-diabetic and will soon begin to feel the effects of the disease more intensely. What she needs are routine screenings that fit in to her busy life at a convenient location. This would allow a doctor to discover what is going on and help her take the actions needed to reverse her health outcomes.
Due to lack of transportation, financial constraints, and work and family commitments, low-to-moderate income at-risk individuals often do not receive the life-saving health screenings required to keep themselves healthy. Baystate Health is embarking on a creative solution to this challenge.
Thinking outside of the box
In December, the TD Bank Group awarded Baystate Health Foundation a $750,000* TD Ready Challenge grant to support the TD Bank-Baystate Health Bus, a mobile prevention health clinic that will bring care into urban and rural communities, providing health services to those who may have difficulty accessing healthcare.
“Providing enhanced access to health for members of our community–through education, information, and screenings for disease prevention–in a culturally sensitive and convenient fashion, is crucial to maintaining the health and wellness of our population,” shared Andrew Artenstein, MD, chief physician executive and chief academic officer, Baystate Health and regional executive dean, University of
Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate. “This grant will allow us to connect with individuals we may not usually see in the office and provide them with the resources and knowledge to live healthier lives.”
The bus project includes a unique interdisciplinary education plan to train the next generation of healthcare professionals from the Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health (PURCH) track at UMass Medical School-Baystate and health professions students from area colleges and universities.
“The bus will allow students to learn how to partner with the community and meet their needs,” said Kevin Hinchey, MD, chief education officer, Baystate Health and senior associate dean of education, University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate. “This opportunity will expand the horizons and knowledge of participating students.”
Prevention for a population
The TD Ready Challenge, a North American grant competition, welcomed 378 applications and awarded grants to 10 organizations, with four awardees in the United States. TD Bank sought projects that were grounded in clinical solutions focused on preventative efforts, including screenings, early detection, and interventional innovations designed to reduce the onset, development, and severity of chronic disease and other illnesses. A key element of these successful awards was that these health initiatives were designed to be replicable.
The TD Bank-Baystate Health Bus fits the bill, especially with the rise in chronic health issues in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties including high rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, and mental health and substance use disorders. Baystate Health will work closely with community partners to prioritize health issues and identify locations the health bus will visit.
Keep an eye out for the TD Bank-Baystate Health Bus on the road in 2021.