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United Health Foundation gives $1M to MCDPH

Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) was awarded a$1 million grant by United Health Foundation to support the Preventive Health Collaborative (PHC), which helps to ensure that all children from birth to five years of age, and their families, are living healthier lives.

The grant will enable PHC to continue its work serving young children and their families in south Phoenix and expand its services to Mesa. In Mesa, PHC will bring together community partners to provide preventive health services to children, and address specific health areas such as prenatal and newborn services, access to care, oral health, nutrition, physical activity, developmental and mental health services, and injury prevention.

The grant is part of United Health Foundation’s “Helping Build Healthier Communities” program that provides critical resources to nonprofit, community-based organizations across the country to improve the health of communities.

“The goal of the PHC is to work collaboratively with our existing community partners and care providers that are serving families with kids ages birth to five years. By maximizing available resources and addressing gaps, we hope to make it easier for families to access the services they need,” said Dr. Bob England, director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health. “I speak for the entire public health system when I say thank you to United Health Foundation for its commitment to building a sustainable system and not just taking a Band-Aid approach to addressing these issues.”

The announcement was made April 10 during a community event at Head to Toe Therapies, a PHC partner in Phoenix. The event brought together Gov. Doug Ducey, MCDPH and PHC staff and partners, local health experts, community leaders and young patients to demonstrate the community’s collective commitment to serving children with health disparities, and illustrate how these community-based partnerships make a positive impact on the people they serve.

The funding comes at a critical time to address gaps in both prenatal and newborn care in Mesa. Nearly 3 percent of newborns in Mesa had fewer than five prenatal visits, and about 11 percent of children from birth to five years of age are uninsured in Mesa – more than 4 percent higher than the national average. And only 60 percent of children ages 12-24 months completed the recommended series of vaccinations. 1

In south Phoenix, there are more than 52,000 children under the age of six, and 35 percent of these children are living in poverty. In 2012, only 53 percent of children ages 19-35 months had received their vaccinations as scheduled. 1

“We are grateful to United Health Foundation for providing this grant to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, which will help improve the lives of those who rely on these services and programs,” said Governor Ducey. “This innovative partnership will enable MCDPH to expand its services and reach into underserved communities, ensuring a better, healthier quality of life for all Arizona families.”

“Maricopa County Department of Public Health’s work in the community is showing significant results and helping improve people’s health and quality of life, particularly in underserved areas,” said Joe Gaudio, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Arizona. “United Health Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to support its efforts in bringing new, innovative approaches in care.”

The United Health Foundation grant will be administered by MCDPH over a three-year period. The PHC and its partners will improve collaboration and community capacity within the preventive health system through completing a comprehensive assessment of health care and information resources, establishing joint partnerships to address gaps, and increasing coordination among resources within the community.

Air Quality

A Better Environment: Improving Air Quality And Our Health

Did you know 13 million deaths could be prevented every year by making our environment healthier? The fact is, public health is intricately connected to our environment regardless of where we live. This link between health and the environment has increasingly become a focal point for the medical community, policymakers and the general public. Some of the foremost factors are air pollution and exposure to pests and chemicals, which can have a significant impact on not only our health but also our quality of life.

The EPA considers indoor air quality one of the top five environmental risks to public health. It is a serious health issue for people who work inside, and furthermore, Americans spend 90 percent of their lives indoors.

Air quality is closely linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of hospitalization in adults, and it can also contribute to asthma and cardiovascular diseases.

Did you know the main reason for school absenteeism is asthma? It accounts for more than 12.8 million missed school days in a single academic year, and every day, nearly 40,000 people miss school or work due to this chronic disease.

The annual cost of asthma is estimated at nearly $18 billion in direct and indirect costs, such as hospitalizations and lost earnings, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation. Household pests also contribute to health problems with German cockroaches and dust mites a key risk factor for asthma development and exacerbation of asthma symptoms.

Green building emphasizes ventilation and non-toxic, low-emitting materials that create healthier and more comfortable living and working environments. The built environment has also recently been recognized as an important potential contributor to reduced levels of physical activity. An important element of sustainable design is the preservation of natural environments that afford a variety of recreation and exercise opportunities. Green buildings also seek to facilitate alternatives to driving, such as bicycling and public transport, which eases local traffic while encouraging personal health and fitness.

An interactive panel of local healthcare experts discuss the impact of the environment on our health at Valley Forward’s Quarterly Luncheon on Tuesday, April 3 at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.

Dawn Gouge, Ph.D., entomologist specialist at University of Arizona, will talk about how public health is affected by pests and pesticides, including the rising bed bug crisis our nation is facing. In addition, Fred Karnas, Ph.D., president and CEO of St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, will spotlight health impacts in relation to the built environment and what constitutes livable, walkable communities. The program will be moderated by Bob England, M.D., director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

Join us for this enlightening perspective on how our health is impacted by where we live, work and play — and how we can improve our environment, including improving air quality and reducing exposure to pests and chemicals. Visit valleyforward.org for more information.