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Remillard Family Community Service Fund awarded eight grants to faculty and students

Projects have potential to improve health of Central Massachusetts residents

The Remillard Family Community Service Fund awarded eight grants in late 2020 for projects with the potential to improve the health of Central Massachusetts residents, particularly those who are economically or educationally disadvantaged or underrepresented.

Designed to amplify the impact of UMass Chan Medical School* on the local community, the endowed fund  provides support for community outreach programs undertaken by faculty, clinical staff, residents and students that are consistent with the education, patient care and research missions of UMass Chan.

The fund awarded one-year grants of up to $20,000 each to the following projects:

Improving flu vaccination accessibility amidst COVID-19 within the Worcester Free Care Collaborative proposed by Ashvin Antony, T.H. Chan School of Medicine Class of 2023:  To establish free flu vaccination stations for patients in marginalized communities served by the free clinics who can’t afford or get access to the vaccine, in order to improve health equity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Companion wellness program: Addressing social isolation and loneliness for hospitalized patients in the local community proposed by Adarsha Bajracharya, MD, assistant professor of medicine: The goal of this initiative is to provide virtual and in-person visits by UMass Chan Medical School student volunteers to English and Spanish-speaking patients who are 65 years or older suffering from or at risk for feelings of isolation.

Worcester Department of Health and Human Services recovery coach initiative proposed by Matilde Castiel, MD, associate professor of medicine: A pilot program that employs a recovery coach to connect marginalized individuals suffering from drug addiction to harm-reduction focused treatment will be expanded, reaching out to incarcerated clients prior to release to better support their transition back into the community.

Project Autism Network: Culture, Healthy Outcomes and Resilience (ANCHOR) proposed by Roula Choueiri, MD, professor of pediatrics: Identifying  and training family navigators from diverse cultures and educating early childhood health care providers to recognize early signs of neurodevelopmental disorders will improve access to diagnosis and services for at-risk children from diverse cultures.

HARMONIOUS: A virtual community-based mental health initiative among Chinese-Americans and Chinese immigrants proposed by Zilin Cui, T.H. Chan School of Medicine Class of 2023: HARMONIOUS is an online community-based bilingual education and support initiative to reduce cultural stigma, encourage open communication and improve access to and uptake of mental health services among Chinese-Americans and Chinese immigrants.

Drivers education for high risk teens proposed by Robert Gakwaya, MD’18: Providing free driver’s education leading to licensure for at-risk youth from disadvantaged communities, where underage, unlicensed drivers are more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle collisions, will help keep them out of the juvenile court system and increase their employment opportunities.

A better birth experience: A pilot program expanding access to trained labor support proposed by Kristina Gracey, MD, MPH, assistant professor of family medicine & community health: A pilot program to provide training and technology for perinatal community health workers who provide prenatal and postpartum care management so they can offer virtual labor support, expanding the capacity for both in-person and virtual support.

Brain Bee Bootcamp outreach program proposed by Erica Kwiatkowski, PhD candidate in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences: This tutoring program to introduce high school students to neuroscience and prepare them for the annual Brain Bee held at UMass Chan will transition to a free-remote learning/student community platform with loaner Chromebooks and community Brain Bee packages.

*As of Sept. 7, 2021, which is in the FY22 fiscal year, UMass Chan Medical School is now UMass Chan Medical School thanks to a transformational gift.