Health Care and Nonprofits

Nonprofit receives $106K grant from drug maker

February 27, 2015
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A nonprofit medical clinic is building on its successful work with low-income residents as it receives its third-consecutive grant from a national foundation.

Catherine’s Health Center, a community-based health facility in Grand Rapids, said yesterday that it has received a $160,916 grant from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular Health program.

Low-income health care

The grant will support the Heart Smart Connections program at Catherine’s Health Center, which assists roughly 2,000 low-income residents access health services.

Karen Kaashoek, executive director of Catherine’s Health Center, said the program is a logical progression from the initial Live Heart Smart program developed two years ago and connects patients to insurance services.

“Many of the people who were in Live Heart Smart didn’t have insurance," Kaashoek said. "Heart Smart Connections is (helping) people who don’t have insurance to learn about the Affordable Care Act, learn what they are eligible for, helping them enroll in those. We have navigators and counselors on site who will sit down . . . help them pick a primary care provider and get that first visit and learn how to use insurance to connect them to other services.”

Heart Smart Connections focuses on informing participants of the preventive aspect of health insurance and how to use insurance coverage effectively, according to Kaashoek.

Tracking success

Catherine’s Health Center has received more than $486,250 in grant funding from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation in the past three years for its Live Heart Smart program.

Live Heart Smart focused on nutrition, exercise and smoking cessation, while connecting participants with lifestyle coaches to implement health goals.

Catherine’s has experienced an 80-percent retention rate for annual patient screening, with nearly 1,000 individuals out of 1,247 total participants returning after one year of funding. The health center also tracked nearly 1,000 new participants during the second year of funding from the foundation.

About 60 percent of new participants were able to decrease their systolic blood pressure by an average of 15 points, while close to 45 percent of individuals saw a drop in body-mass index by roughly 1.2 points. More than 60 percent of 232 participants with elevated initial cholesterol were able to reduce their cholesterol by an average of 34 points.

"Staggering" need

The Connections for Cardiovascular Health program is a competitive grant application process, which requires a written proposal and a series of comprehensive reports, including measurable outcomes once an organization is funded.

When Catherine’s Health Center initially applied for a grant in 2012, Kaashoek said it was a stretch for the nonprofit and funding beyond the first year was not guaranteed.

“I think we are doing exceptional work with this, and it is pretty staggering for us to see the need that is out there and the engagement that participants have,” Kaashoek said. “We try to give people the tools they need . . . and help give them the support they need to set the goals. You have to set small, manageable, achievable, sustainable goals and our lifestyle coaches then work with people on setting goals and following up with them.”

Pharma-based grants

The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation Connections for Cardiovascular Health program was launched in 2010 and has awarded more than $17 million in grant funding to 13 organizations since its establishment.

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