HCN News & Notes

TD Bank Awards Baystate Health $1 Million Ready Challenge Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health received a $1 million grant from TD Bank to further the health system’s commitment to the communities it serves by funding an innovative new mobile preventive health clinic called the TD Bank – Baystate Health Bus.

Baystate Health is one of only four healthcare organizations in the U.S., along with six in Canada, to receive the Ready Challenge Grant from the TD Bank Group to support programs aimed at improving access to early detection of disease and disease intervention.

“While advances in healthcare enable many to lead healthier lives, the unfortunate reality is that not all communities have equal access to quality healthcare,” said Greg Braca, CEO of TD Bank. “We believe that, when people feel better about their health, they feel better about their future, which is why we’re focused on supporting research, solutions, and technologies that make healthcare more accessible for everyone. The Ready Challenge is an incredible opportunity for the bank to help improve the lives of our customers, colleagues, and communities.”

The new TD Bank – Baystate Health Bus will deliver preventive care to people in urban and rural communities who are not receiving services due to financial and transportation barriers, including a shortage of providers in their neighborhoods.

As a mobile medical unit, the bus will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary healthcare team to bring health screenings, early detection, and referrals for needed treatment or other services directly to at-risk individuals.

Today’s patients face challenges accessing care, and often low-to-moderate income at-risk individuals do not receive life-saving screenings, early detection, and referrals, noted Dr. Kevin Hinchey, chief Education officer and medical director of Baystate Health, and senior associate dean of Education at UMass Medical School – Baystate.

According to the 2018 County Health Rankings, the counties served by Baystate — Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin — are among the poorest in the state. Health issues common to the three counties include high rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, and mental-health and substance disorders.

“Patients are faced with a number of barriers, including lack of transportation, financial constraints, and work and family commitments, and in some cases, a shortage of physicians in their community,” Hinchey said. “The TD Ready Challenge Grant will play an important role in eliminating barriers to care in the many communities we serve, as well as allow us to train new doctors to serve the underserved.”

Using a state-of-the-art mobile medical unit, Baystate will create a team that will see people where they are, rather than having them come to a Baystate facility for treatment. “As a result, we would expect to see a reduction in the severity of chronic illness and disease in the low- to- moderate-income at-risk patients we seek to serve,” Hinchey said.

Baystate Health will work closely with its community partners to further identify and prioritize various health issues and identify locations the bus will travel to.

“The 2018 TD Ready Challenge winners have already had an amazing impact on their communities, showing us that this funding can truly make a difference,” said Shelley Sylva, U.S. Head of Social Impact for TD Bank. “We are confident that the four 2019 TD Ready Challenge winners in the U.S. will measurably improve the quality of healthcare access, research, and preventive care for those traditionally underserved in our communities.”

The teaching component to the TD Bank funded program is what makes it “truly unique,” Hinchey added.

Baystate Health, which serves as the regional campus of UMass Medical School, has a long history as an academic teaching hospital educating generations of health professionals — residents, medical students, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and others — many of whom practice locally. Baystate will use the new initiative to further train young healthcare providers such as doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and others to work as a team and serve urban and rural populations through the school’s innovative PURCH (population-based urban and rural community health) track.

“It is our hope to inspire them to serve needy populations once they enter the profession,” Hinchey said.

The initiative will begin with the development of the program during the first year — building partnerships with educational institutions and community sites, research, and purchase of the mobile unit — followed by implementation of the program.