Page 36 - HealthcareNews May/June 2021
P. 36

Springfield Improves in Latest National Asthma Impact Report
SPRINGFIELD — After two years as the nation’s asthma capital, the impact
of living with asthma in the Greater Springfield /Hampden County area has improved, with the new designation of the 12th-most challenging place in the U.S. to live with asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. This designation is based on asthma preva- lence, mortality, and emergency-room use for asthma. This improvement coincides with the Springfield Healthy Homes Asthma Program and other community health worker asthma interventions in
the region, the COVID-19 pandemic, and with an improvement in air quality as re- ported by the American Lung Assoc. State of the Air report.
The Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition (PVAC) is a coalition convened by the Public Health Institute of Western Massa-
chusetts consisting of health professionals and institutions, community groups and residents, public-health organizations, municipal and state agencies, academic institutions, schools, daycare, housing, and environmental groups committed
to improving asthma and environmental conditions that affect health in Western Mass. Its mission is to improve quality of life for families, individuals, and commu- nities affected by asthma in the Pioneer Valley.
“Although still a serious problem that affects many families and communities in our region, this improvement shows that the work to improve asthma outcomes
is having an impact. This is good news for our local families and communities. However, there are still questions to be answered about addressing the causes of asthma onset and asthma flareups,” the
PVAC noted.
“The data on air quality is lim-
ited because it draws on one monitor in Springfield and one in Chicopee. Our new PV Air Quality Monitoring project in collaboration with the cities of Spring- field and Holyoke and other partners will collect data from 55 sites in Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee and help identify hot spots for poor air quality. The loss
of the permit for the proposed biomass plant in Springfield is a win for environ- mental justice, air quality, and families with asthma. As we see improvements, we must be vigilant to prevent any additional sources of pollution that can impact the vulnerable communities in the region.”
Asthma community health worker and healthy-homes interventions are being embedded in local health care, including Revitalize CDC’s collaborations with the
BeHealthy Partnership’s Flex Services asthma-supplies intervention and Holy- oke Medical Center’s asthma community health worker/healthy-homes interven- tion.
“We have to continue to find ways to embed these services and make them standard procedures for people with asthma,” the coalition noted. “Our work with the Springfield Healthy Homes Asthma Program funded by the Shift Health Policy Commission grant has also identified policy actions needed to address the challenges renters face in dealing with poor housing conditions in a landscape of older housing stock, widespread deferred maintenance, lack of affordable housing, and fear of eviction records.”
 State Awards $800,000 for Two Residential Treatment Facilities
BOSTON — The Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Department of Public Health (DPH) an- nounced $800,000 for two new residential treatment facilities for adolescents with co-occurring mental-health and sub- stance-use disorders.
The grant recipients, the Center for Hu- man Development in Chicopee and Low- ell House in Reading, will provide critical residential treatment services for young people in Eastern and Western Mass., with a combined capacity of 39 treatment beds.
“These awards are part of our ongo- ing investment in life-saving addiction- treatment programs, especially for young
people struggling with mental-health concerns and substance use,” Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said. “The supports and services offered by inpatient treatment programs can often be the most effective option for many teens dealing with addiction and their families.”
The programs are designed to reflect the developmental needs, attitudes, and interests of their adolescent populations and will provide mental-health services, help address primary health concerns, support learning skills needed to maintain recovery and transition toward more independence, and identify resources for
effective after-care planning.
“DPH is committed to ensuring that
adolescents receive developmentally ap- propriate mental-health and addiction treatment,” Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel said. “These treatment facilities will provide evidence-based care, intervention, and peer supports that in some cases cannot be solely provided in the teen’s home environment.”
The Center for Human Development will have a 15-bed capacity serving males ages 13 to 17, and Lowell House will have 24 beds for a gender-inclusive (co-ed) population ages 13 to 17, doubling the number of youth treatment beds in the
state. Both facilities will provide supervi- sion 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a residential setting licensed by DPH’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services.
“This award will ensure that youths have access to the integrated mental- health and substance-use-disorder treat- ment they need,” said Deirdre Calvert, director of DPH’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services. “DPH is dedicated to supporting young people in their recovery from substance use and ensuring their access to behavioral healthcare.”
 Massachusetts Submits Year-two Age-Friendly Progress Report
BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration an- nounced the release of the year-two progress report for ReiMAgine Aging, the Age-Friendly Massachusetts action plan, which serves as the state’s multi-year plan to make the Commonwealth more age- and dementia-friendly. Elizabeth Chen, secretary of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, submitted the report at a virtual event to AARP Massachusetts State Director Mike Festa with communi- ties and organizations engaged in the age- and dementia- friendly movement in attendance.
The virtual celebration was held to recognize May as Older Americans Month, release the year-two progress re- port, and highlight work in communities across the Com- monwealth. At the event, community leaders spoke about their work in the age- and dementia- friendly movement, and partner organizations presented highlights from the progress report.
This past year, communities were a locus for innova- tion, with local organizations, residents, and volunteers
pivoting to support older adults and communities in an unprecedented fashion. The report includes examples from all corners of the Commonwealth and represents a fraction of the many accomplishments that took place in 2020.
“Throughout the COVID-19 public-health emer- gency, we witnessed the resilience of communities,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “Over the past year, organizations and individuals from across Massachusetts have stepped up to confront the pandemic and care for each other. This was especially meaningful for older adults.”
The Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachu- setts was established by executive order in April 2017, and one of the council’s recommendations was for Massachu- setts to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. The Commonwealth entered the network in early 2018 and submitted ReiMAgine Aging, the Mas- sachusetts Age-Friendly action plan, in 2019.
“The work of the Governor’s Council to Address Ag-
ing — the listening sessions held across communities, hearing from community leaders and from older people and caregivers — directly informed our decision to make the commitment to enter the Network of Age-Friendly States. It also informed how we developed our plan to do the work,” said Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, who co-chairs the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts. “We are grateful to the many communities and partners who help make Massachusetts a great place to grow older together.”
Added Chen, “each May, we celebrate Older Americans Month. This year’s theme — Communities of Strength
— is fitting for this moment. It has not been an easy year for anyone, especially older adults. But as much as this has been a challenging time, our communities have come together to demonstrate the power of collective resilience and the importance of building community.”

   34   35   36   37   38