Page 64 - Healthcare News SepOct 2021
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Springfield Promotes Lead-based Paint-removal Program
SPRINGFIELD — Significant funding for lead hazard control and abatement projects have been unused, and the city of Springfield and the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts are alerting homeowners about the available grants and forgivable loans.
The program is aimed at removing lead from homes with children under age 6 and is available to homeowners and landlords as long as the tenants for the units qualify. Information on the program can be accessed by calling (413) 787-6500 or visit- ing
The Lead-based Paint Hazard Reduc- tion Program provides funds to Spring- field residents in the form of grants to single-family homeowners and forgivable loans for investor-owned properties. The city procures a licensed lead-abatement contractor for the work to be done and manages the project from start to finish, assisting the homeowner in overseeing completion. Work will result in a Letter of Full Deleading Compliance.
Lead paint is a major health hazard, especially for young children. Springfield
is one of the highest-risk communities in Massachusetts for lead poisoning, based on the number of children identified as having elevated blood lead levels, the percentage of families living below 200% of the poverty threshold, and the percent- age of housing built before 1978. The Massachusetts Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program assesses a commu- nity’s risk level annually.
The city-wide lead-abatement program is made possible through grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to the city of Springfield in order to create affordable, lead-safe, and healthy housing in the city to maximize the number of young chil- dren protected from lead poisoning.
“As a first-time homebuyer of a two- family home, I wanted to do some work to prepare the rental unit for occupancy,” said Wesley Swan, a Springfield home- owner. “Participating in the lead-abate- ment program allowed me to not only fast-track that rehab I had in mind, but also opened up the pool of tenant ap- plicants I could move in. There’s a real
benefit to removing concerns about future liability and just the peace of mind know- ing that it’s lead-safe.”
To qualify for these lead-abatement funds, the homeowners for single-family homes, or tenants of investor-owned properties, must be income-eligible and have a child under age 6 or a pregnant woman residing in the unit or home.
For owner-occupied single-family homes, grants are given to approved ap- plicants up to $20,000 for lead abatement. For investor-owned properties, approved landlord applicants are given funding in the form of zero-interest, forgivable loans, up to $13,000 per unit. The homeowner must remain in the home or continue to rent to qualified families for at least three years after work is completed.
According to Geraldine McCafferty, director of Housing for the city of Spring- field, “the federal government continues to demonstrate its support for lead- paint-abatement services for low-income families, and it’s great to be able to share these resources with families in need with the funds the city now has available.”
As part of the outreach to Springfield residents about the lead-abatement program, the city and the Public Health Institute are also raising awareness about the dangers of lead paint when homeown- ers do renovation work themselves. Lead dust — not lead paint — is the top cause of lead poisoning. Any cut made into a surface painted with lead paint, even if the paint is covered by layers of newer paint, risks exposure to hazardous lead dust.
“Lead poisoning leads to long-term health impacts for children and for adults. During the pandemic, many people have started home-renovation projects not anticipating that they may be risking expo- sure to hazardous lead dust,” said Sarita Hudson, director of Programs and Devel- opment for the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts.
For information on how to protect yourself and your family during home ren- ovations, visit spring fieldhealthyhomes. org/lead. For more information and to apply for the lead-abatement program, call (413) 787-6500 or e-mail hhinfo@ spring
 Massachusetts Community Colleges Announce Vaccine Requirement
BOSTON — The presidents of the 15 Massachusetts community colleges announced in September that students, faculty, and staff at the colleges must be fully vaccinated by January 2022.
“During the last 18 months, the Mas- sachusetts community colleges have prioritized the health and safety of our communities while also recognizing that many of our students have been dispro- portionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the presidents said in a state- ment shared with their campuses. “While a significant number of students, faculty, and staff are already vaccinated or are in the process of becoming vaccinated, the 15 colleges are seeking to increase the health and safety of the learning and working environment in light of the ongoing pub- lic health concerns and current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Massachusetts community colleges are committed to ensuring vaccination status is not a barrier to students and will continue offering a range of virtual learning opportunities and services.”
The announcement comes amid a rise in the number of new cases of COVID-19 across the Commonwealth, the increased access and availability of vaccines, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s full and pending approval of available vaccines,
Christina Royal says the state’s community-college presidents are unified in their support of a vaccine mandate.
community. “While there is no ironclad defense against coronavirus, extensive public-health research has shown that vaccination greatly reduces the risk of hospitalization and death.”
All Massachusetts community colleges will continue to make vaccine clinics available on their campuses for students, faculty, and staff.
HCC will continue to offer free CO- VID-19 vaccinations for the foreseeable future on its Homestead Avenue campus every Tuesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The college also offers COVID-19 testing six days a week on campus through the Holyoke Board of Health. Both vaccina- tions clinics and testing are available in parking lot N outside the Bartley Center for Athletics and Recreation.
Further, the colleges are committed to ensuring vaccination status is not a barrier to students and will continue offering a range of virtual learning opportunities and services, the statement said.
Students who seek to register for courses that do not include any in-person component, and who do not plan to come on campus for any reason for the spring 2022 semester, will not be required to provide documentation of vaccination. All employees will be required to be vac- cinated.
  and CDC guidance that the COVID-19 vaccine has been proven to be extremely safe and highly effective at preventing infection, severe disease, hospitalization, and death. The requirement is aimed at ensuring the safest learning and working environment possible for the more than 135,000 students served by the community
colleges each year.
“The 15 community colleges across the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts decided that this requirement was necessary given the changing conditions of COVID-19 and the Delta variant,” Holyoke Commu- nity College (HCC) President Christina Royal said in a message to the HCC

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