SPRINGFIELD — The Mental Health Assoc. (MHA) received a $132,000 community benefits grant from Mercy Medical Center to support capital improvements that expand capacity for two MHA programs. The award is based on the hospital’s 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) with grant funds from Mercy parent Trinity Health.
MHA will use $112,000 of its grant through Mercy’s Community Health and Well Being (CHWB) department for a fire-suppression system at its group home in Holyoke that serves members of the LGBTQ+ in recovery with substance-use and mental-health diagnoses. The Yale Street residence is part of MHA’s GRIT (Grow, Reimagine, Inspire, Transform) program. The remaining $20,000 is funding an additional bedroom at MHA’s Safe Haven program in Westfield.
“The funding so generously provided by Trinity Health will directly impact our ability to serve additional individuals in need of housing, as well as support for their early stages of recovery,” said Kimberley Lee, MHA’s vice president of Resource Development and Branding. “With the fire-safety system we are now installing, and which will extend to the third floor, MHA will be able to put additional bedrooms online at our Yale Street GRIT program. Safe Haven, a residential program for chronically homeless individuals, many with a substance-use diagnosis, will also now have one new additional bedroom to serve a person in need.”
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires tax-exempt hospitals to create a CHNA every three years, and Lee said the Trinity funding “is not just a capital investment, it is an investment in improving, for the long term, the lives of adults who otherwise would not have access to programming.”
According to the CHNA done for Mercy in 2019, “substance use and mental health were identified as urgent health needs/problems impacting the area in virtually every type of stakeholder engagement.” It also recognized a need for “culturally sensitive care.”
MHA’s Yale Street program currently has a waitlist of 30 individuals, and its Safe Haven program has a waitlist of nine. Yale Street is the only program in the state that focuses specifically on the LGBTQ+ community in recovery. The Safe Haven program, which is contracted through the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, provides transitional housing for hard-to-engage homeless men and women.
In allocating community benefits grants from Trinity, Mercy works with community-based organizations with a proven ability to meet the needs identified in the most recent CHNA. MHA’s grant was one of three such separate grants totaling $273,000 that Mercy recently announced.
“At Mercy Medical Center, our mission calls us to serve as a transforming, healing presence,” said Deborah Bitsoli, president of Mercy Medical Center and Trinity Health Of New England Medical Group. “We are grateful to Trinity Health for these grants as they will have a significant impact on our efforts to further that mission and expand services to vulnerable patient populations.”