Tarrant and Parker counties’ most vulnerable residents face depression, isolation, and chronic health problems as they grapple with lack of transportation and access to healthy food sources.
In a new initiative, called Texas Health Community Impact, Texas Health Resources announced today that it has awarded United Way of Tarrant County $1.15 million to address depression and social determinants of health in these counties.
The total allocated for grants in North Texas is $5.2 million. Twelve programs in five regions of North Texas have received grants.
“We are excited about this generous and unprecedented funding from Texas Health Resources as it will allow us to make a truly significant impact in a way that has never before been possible,” said Don Smith, vice president, Community Investment, United Way of Tarrant County and director, Area Agency on Aging. “Our project transforms the landscape of services through multi-sector, multi-system, multi-agency partnerships that will work together to solve problems caused by social determinants of health and health inequities. We have brought together several organizations that have not worked together before.”
Texas Health Community Impact is a data-driven, outcome-focused approach that calls on recipients to collaborate across sectors to attack problems.
“This is our opportunity to play a role in upstream issues that impact health and well-being,” said Catherine Oliveros DrPH, Texas Health’s vice president of Community Health Improvement. “Siloed efforts have limited success. If we are really going to transform health and health care, we must transform systems and communities.”
The program pinpoints specific ZIP codes.
“Texas Health Community Impact is one of Texas Health’s commitments to live our nonprofit, faith-based health system’s mission: To improve the health of the people in the communities we serve,” said the system’s CEO Barclay Berdan. “It’s said that a person’s ZIP code has a greater impact on their health than their genetic code. That’s why we’re reaching out into the communities we serve and hoping to make a real difference in the health and well-being of people in these areas of North Texas.”
Through Leadership Councils that oversee five regions, areas of high need were determined. Community level focus groups, “windshield surveys” – during which staff and council members visited zip codes – were performed. Community readiness also was gauged.
“We’ll be educating folks on healthy choices, foods, lifestyles — if you can kind of build that into people’s DNA, the less likely they are going to need hospitals and doctors,” said Carlo Capua, Leadership Council chair for Tarrant and Parker counties.
In Tarrant and Parker counties, the ZIP codes deemed the best opportunities to effect change are:
- 76119, in southeast Fort Worth, where nearly half of residents suffer from high blood pressure and almost a quarter have diabetes.
- 76010, in east Arlington, where residents live in a food desert, without public transportation and access to healthy food.
- 76082, in Springtown, where older residents are more likely than their peers in North Central Texas to suffer from depression, and services are miles away.
To address these issues, United Way plans to collaborate with agencies including the Area Agency on Aging Tarrant County, The Women’s Center, MHMR Behavioral Services, The Mental Health Connection, the Healthy Tarrant County Collaboration and, in Parker County, the North Central Texas Council of Governments as well as the Parker County Committee on Aging.
The new, innovative program is called the Community Health Opportunities Impact Collaborative for Equity in Tarrant and Parker Counties (CHOICE-TPC).
Among the goals:
- To increase in-home healthy food delivery and health screening for depression, chronic disease, isolation or other health-related risks for older adults.
- To bring in ZIP-code dedicated counselors to help decrease depression in isolated seniors as well as build coping skills.
- To build long-term connections to improve mental health and social networks.
- To provide greater opportunities to access healthy food through advocating for policy changes, developing a voucher system and expanding other programs.
“Health care, especially in this country, has a history of being more reactive,” Capua said. “This is a chance for us to really move the needle on quality of life by being proactive, pressing out to solve some of these problems before they have a chance to manifest.”