ROCKPORT, Maine — As a result of a more than $2.4 million grant awarded to MaineHealth, Pen Bay Healthcare will gain support for activities to improve physical activity and healthy eating and decrease tobacco use in Knox County.
Through local partnerships, the MaineHealth award will benefit rural communities in Androscoggin, Franklin, Oxford, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Waldo Counties. Called the HOMEtowns (Health of Maine Towns) Partnership, the project encompasses two of Maine’s nine local public health districts, Western and midcoast, and will reach over 344,000 Mainers — nearly one-third of the state.
The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ community transformation grants to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and control health care spending in small communities.
“By focusing on rural areas, this CTG grant award will have a significant impact on the work we do,” said Linda Zeigler, co-director of the Picker Family Resource Center at Pen Bay Healthcare, “particularly in light of recent funding cuts here in Maine that have resulted in fewer dollars for important disease prevention activities.”
“Pen Bay’s Let’s Go! Team will engage adults both at the worksite and their children’s day care centers in the 5210 message that many of their kids already know. We’ll offer real life strategies to increase their consumption of five fruits and vegetable every day, reduce their screen time to two hours or less, increase their physical activity and eliminate sugary drinks from their diets,” she said.
“The Pen Bay Nutrition and Diabetes Center will focus on diabetes prevention by offering an intensive risk reduction program for people who are already prediabetic. We’ll also pilot a special prenatal program for expectant moms who need support for managing their pregnancy weight gain, improving their nutrition and physical conditioning and who may want help to quit smoking. We are excited about this opportunity to improve the health of our community.”
As part of the Affordable Healthcare Act, or Obamacare, HHS awarded about $70 million in prevention grants to 40 awardees focused on improving the health of small communities across the nation.
MaineHealth’s award is the largest of four in Maine. Other grantees include MaineGeneral, Healthy Acadia and the Maine Development Foundation.
Community transformation grants are targeted to reducing deaths and health costs due to heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes and other serious health problems by pursuing improvements in population health in the areas of weight, proper nutrition, physical activity and tobacco use.
For information, including a list of all awardees, visit cdc.gov/communitytransformation.