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Grant promotes better health for North End families

By Natasha Clark
Assistant Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD The North End section of Springfield has received $2.8 million in grant funds to revitalize the community's public-health priorities.
In the form of a new Community Initiatives Fund, the Baystate Health-backed grant will put much-needed dollars behind projects that promote and bring better health to North End residents. Baystate will disburse $400,000 a year over a seven year period to the New North Citizens Council who acts as the fiscal agent. The funds will target community health priorities, STD prevention, teenage pregnancy prevention, nutrition and weight loss, recreational sports and more.
A committee comprised of other local civic groups such as the Spanish-American Union, the North End Outreach Network and the North End Campus Coalition will review submitted requests for proposals (RFPs) for the first round of funding.
Steven F. Bradley, vice president of government and community relations for Baystate Health, said that Baystate is happy to "help the neighborhood in the North End develop their own ability to identify health challenges and to develop interventions that make sense for them."
"We want people to enjoy the best quality of life they can from a health standpoint. We work with people before they become ill. It lowers everybody's health care costs," Bradley said. "We're very much committed to the rebuilding of Springfield."
The funding is a condition of Massachusetts Department of Public Health approval given to Baystate in November 2007, for its Hospital of the Future project at Baystate Medical Center. The North End's $2.8 million grant is part of $9.6 million in community benefits "Factor 9" funding which is directed at improving public health in several Springfield neighborhoods.
"Baystate Medical Center and Baystate Health, our parent company, is very much committed to the proactive and prevention end of health care," Bradley told Reminder Publications. "The goal is keeping people as healthy as possible."
"The funding is not only a dream come true for us, but it's really going to have an impact as far as working together with the community to make the North End a stable and vibrant community," Robert Bailey, executive director of the Spanish-American Union, said. "We're honored to be a part of this. Our goal is to engage our community and this is just a wonderful way of getting our community involved."
RFPs for the first round of funding will be accepted until Jan. 16. For more information contact Milta Franco at 747-0090 or milta.franco@bhs.org.