CARY, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nearly $2 million in grants will be distributed to 19 organizations statewide through the North Carolina Healthcare Foundation’s COVID-19 Fill the Gap Response Fund. The grants, totaling $1.6 million, will assist people and places disproportionately impacted by the novel coronavirus, including people of color, frontline essential workers, and rural communities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated health and economic challenges already present in rural communities and vulnerable populations around the state. They are often hit harder and take longer to recover,” said Julia Wacker, senior vice president of the foundation.
Migrant farm workers living in North Carolina who may lack information about ways to protect themselves from COVID-19 is an example of a rural population impacted by COVID-19, Wacker said. Because they can’t afford to miss work, they may not report feeling ill or keep medical appointments, potentially putting their families and coworkers at risk.
“They may also struggle to afford to buy food for their families and can’t get to food banks before they close on weekdays because they rely on limited public transportation in rural areas,” Wacker said. “They might also be ineligible for federal COVID-19 financial relief, which is why the Fill the Gap Response Fund is needed to support the organizations helping them.”
The Foundation distributed a request for proposals (RFP) in May to healthcare, human service, safety net, and grassroots organizations for projects addressing health disparities created or worsened by the pandemic. Following a review process, 19 grant awards were approved with an average size of $87,635.
Lead funders of the initiative include the David A. Tepper Foundation, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation, and The Duke Endowment. An opportunity to apply for a second wave of funds will be announced later this month.
Grant recipients include:
Eastern North Carolina
- Atkinson – Black River Health Services and Manos Unidas – The COVID-19 Farmworker Resilience Project aims to expand capacity to serve migrant farmworkers during the pandemic. Grant funds will be used to disseminate culturally sensitive educational information, critical first aid and hygienic supplies so farmworkers can take steps to protect their health and understand how to self-monitor any symptoms and protect themselves, their families, and communities.
- Edenton – Boys & Girls Club of the Albemarle – Funds will be used to expand a program called Youth Connect, in which a licensed clinical social worker provides counseling and clinical case management services to young people to address stress and isolation related to COVID-19.
- Elizabeth City – Elizabeth City State University – Through and Beyond COVID-19 (T-ABC) is a community outreach program designed to reduce disparate impacts of COVID-19 on African-Americans through health promotion efforts in 21 rural counties. African-Americans and individuals in rural communities are more affected by COVID-19 morbidity and mortality than other groups.
Central North Carolina – Greater Charlotte and Statesville
- Belmont – House of Mercy – This project supports essential frontline workers and underserved populations, including people living with HIV who are uninsured, lack access to healthcare, and are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
- Charlotte – Camino Community Development Corp.– Camino is a bilingual, multicultural center serving uninsured Latino families through a health clinic, mental health clinic, food pantry, and other services. During COVID-19, many patients either cancelled or did not attend appointments due to loss of income. Funds will support staff and provide scholarships to help patients pay for their clinic visits.
- Salisbury – Lutheran Services Carolinas – The Feeding LSC Heroes Project will provide food and household basics to frontline workers caring for older adults living in LSC’s senior care communities. These workers are under stress as they juggle caring for vulnerable seniors at work, homeschooling children, contending with financial strain, and feeling anxious about contracting or spreading the virus. This project will help eliminate some of the financial burdens they face.
- Statesville – Iredell Memorial Hospital- Iredell Physician Network – Grant funds will support video visits and remote monitoring of patients in rural areas who have one or more comorbidity and who are at increased risk of complications if they contract COVID-19.
Central North Carolina – Triangle Region, Fayetteville and Lumberton
- Benson – NC Farmworkers Project – An existing medical mobile unit will be outfitted as a mobile hotspot for farmworker housing sites. This will ensure better access to telehealth appointments, since many farmworkers lack internet access or good cell phone service.
- Benson – Benson Health Farmworker Outreach- Funding will help the outreach program transition from a clinic-based healthcare model to a mobile model of providing primary care and COVID-19 testing to seasonal farmworkers.
- Carrboro – Refugee Community Partnership – RCP will assist non-English speaking refugee and immigrant communities in Orange, Durham, Chatham, and Alamance Counties with COVID-19 related health and safety information and provide individuals with help accessing services.
- Fayetteville – Cape Fear Valley Health System – Funds will be used for a program to help essential frontline workers in five counties with behavioral health services. The program will also provide behavioral health services to patients using telehealth. The project will also assist underserved patients being discharged from hospitals with medication, medical equipment, and transportation.
- Lumberton – Southeastern Health – Robeson County had the highest increase in positive COVID-19 patients in the state in April. Local communities have traditionally faced healthcare challenges that include limited income, lack of transportation, and low literacy levels. A mobile care model will use audiovisual technology to connect patients to specialty care and patient education.
- Oxford – Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central North Carolina– The club will provide hot, healthy dinners to youth ages 5 to 18 at club locations in Oxford, Henderson, and Roanoke Rapids during weekdays at no cost to the families served.
- Siler City – Hispanic Liaison of Chatham County – Funds will help allow for opening a satellite office in Lee County and expand advocacy, community education, and outreach efforts to protect the rights of poultry processing workers and ensure the community has access to emergency assistance. Funds will also offset some expenses related to the Chatham Solidarity Fund, which distributes money to families who do not qualify for stimulus checks due to their immigration status.
Western North Carolina
- Asheville – Pisgah Legal Services – Pisgah Legal Services will provide free civil legal services and advocacy to low-income people in Western North Carolina affected by COVID-19, with a focus on rural and underserved communities. Through medical-legal partnerships and referrals from NC Cares 360, the organization will help resolve barriers to health for at least 100 patients (250 people in the household) who identify as being impacted by COVID-19 between June 2020 and May 2021. These patients will be low-income people from under-served rural communities or from communities of color.
- Brevard – Neighbors in Ministry/Rise & Shine – Rise & Shine After-School and Sharing House have created a neighborhood pop-up market of fresh fruits and vegetables for the historic Rosenwald Community in Brevard, a mostly African-American, economically disadvantaged area in Transylvania County. Funds will feed 75 to 125 multi-generational families weekly for up to six months.
- Hayesville – Clay County NC Emergency Medical Services – Funding will allow the county to educate, equip, and enhance the paramedic response team, allowing for greater access to health care for vulnerable, underserved and uninsured populations, while reducing long-term EMS call volume and undue burden on local Emergency Departments. This project will add a layer of protection for those experiencing trauma, interpersonal violence, or behavioral health needs.
- Hayesville – Hinton Rural Life Center – Using existing trusting relationships, volunteers will equip vulnerable neighbors with resources to help their physical and mental well-being.
- Hendersonville – Heartwood Refuge – Funding will support existing agencies that serve migrant workers with providing basic needs such as beds, linen, food, medicine, and urgent health care (transportation, costs and medicine). The grant will also help enable children of undocumented seasonal workers, who do not enroll their elementary-aged children in public school due to fear of deportation, to be home-schooled with qualified academic support.
Established in 1961, the North Carolina Healthcare Foundation is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the North Carolina Healthcare Association. Its mission is to foster and accelerate the collective impact of hospitals, health systems and community partners to improve the health of North Carolinians.