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For Immediate Release:
September 19, 2012

Greater New Bedford Allies awards $126,000 in grants to address health disparities through community health outreach workers

Funding is made possible by Southcoast Hospitals through community benefits program

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Greater New Bedford Allies for Health and Wellness Inc. (GNB Allies) today announced $126,000 in grants awarded to three local agencies to address health disparities in the region through outreach with Community Health Workers (CHWs).

Coastline Elderly Services Inc., the Immigrants' Assistance Center Inc. and the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts have each been awarded $21,000 per year for two years to address health disparities among underserved populations, particularly relating to cancer screenings and prevention. This will be accomplished by expanding the capacity of CHWs in the region. Coastline Elderly Services will partner with the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center for its project.

Funding for the grants is through Southcoast™ Hospitals Group's Community Benefits Program and the Community Health Initiatives provision of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Determination of Need (DoN) program. The DoN funding is linked to Southcoast's Centers for Cancer Care project and the opening of a radiation oncology program in Fairhaven.

"Greater New Bedford Allies is a vital resource in our community for collaboration and coordination of health and social services," said Dr. Barbara Acksen, GNB Allies Chairman. "Addressing health disparities has been a major focus of our organization for the past several years and we are excited that this project will make a real impact on the health and wellness of vulnerable populations in our region."

Keith A. Hovan, President & CEO of Southcoast Health System and Southcoast Hospitals Group, noted the projects reflect Southcoast's commitment to invest in community services and programs that help prevent illness and promote good health, particularly among residents who have barriers to accessing health care.

"Community health outreach workers play an increasingly vital role in our health care system," Hovan said. "We are excited to help expand the role of CHWs right here on the South Coast."

Each of the three award recipients have developed their own pilot program that will utilize Community Health Workers to provide outreach, education and linkage to medical services to underserved populations in the Greater New Bedford region. Each pilot will work in partnership each other, and with GNB Allies, Southcoast Health System, the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to ensure that each program has the appropriate tools and resources required to successfully achieve its goals and the needs of the community.

The pilot programs will also be supported by a two-year, $70,000 Community Health Worker training and technical assistance grant through the Southcoast funding. The Area Health Education Center (AHEC) of Southeastern Massachusetts will provide core competencies and specialized cancer training for up to 25 Community Health Workers in Greater New Bedford. In addition, the AHEC will provide technical assistance for the pilot programs as well as assist with the development of a regional network of CHWs.

About Greater New Bedford Allies for Health and Wellness

Greater New Bedford Allies for Health and Wellness, Inc. (GNB Allies) is a collaborative of organizations that have joined together to promote healthy living and serve the needs of vulnerable children and adults in our communities. The partners in the network envision a healthy environment. GNB Allies mission is to channel the communities of Greater New Bedford into action to achieve a better quality of life for everyone. We provide information about regional resources and services in order to promote coordination and to encourage their use by the public; address needs and build on community assets; and celebrate and reward community successes. GNB Allies serves the communities of Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Freetown, Marion, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, Rochester and Wareham.

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Stephanie Poyant
Public Information Officer
Phone: 508-961-5280
Pager: 508-387-2532
Fax: 508-961-5876

Southcoast Health System is a community based health delivery system with multiple access points, offering an integrated continuum of health services throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and East Bay, Rhode Island.

It includes the three hospitals that make up Southcoast Hospitals Group — Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford and Tobey Hospital in Wareham.

Southcoast provides advanced clinical services, such as open heart surgery, angioplasty and heart rhythm services, comprehensive cancer care, neurosurgery, weight loss surgery, orthopedic surgery, advanced imaging services and is the only provider of maternity services in the region.

Southcoast is a not-for-profit charitable organization that depends on the support of the community to provide services. More information is available online at Connect to Southcoast through social media at

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