PWTF Improving Health for Lynn Residents Where They Live, Work and Play

Nearly 50 interested members of the community gathered for breakfast at the Eastern Bank to learn more about the Prevention Wellness Trust Fund (PWTF) here in Lynn. The PWTF grant awarded over 5 million dollars and is the first of its kind in the nation to fund programs that aim to reach patients in the community as well as the clinical setting in order to promote better health and reduce health care costs. The City of Lynn Public Health Director, MaryAnn O’Connor, told attendees about the exciting work happening in the City as a result of this prevention funding. The funding has allowed the PWTF community partners, City of Lynn, Lynn Public Schools, Massachusetts Area Planning Council, Greater Lynn Senior Services, Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, the opportunity to provide services to patients at risk in the community in addition to the best-practice clinical care at the Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC).

MaryAnn O’Connor talked about the 4 chronic diseases addressed by the PWTF in Lynn; Tobacco, Hypertension, Senior Falls and Pediatric Asthma. Case studies for each condition were featured at the breakfast on life-size posters of actual Lynn residents who have participated and benefitted from the programs offered by PWTF. Lynn was awarded this funding based on its population size, the number of people living in poverty (1 in 5) and higher than average hospitalization rates for certain chronic diseases.

In October, all LHAND housing adopted a Smoke-Free Policy which will reduce the negative health effects of second-hand smoke for over 1000 residents and their children and pets. Residents will be offered cessation counselling by recently-trained specialists at LCHC.

Children with uncontrolled asthma are identified at the school and the Health Center and referred for home visits to help families reduce asthma-triggers in the home. Christian Encarnacion, age 11, has signed up for basketball this winter since he is feeling so much better thanks to the PWTF program helping him manage his asthma at home and at school.

The Greater Lynn Senior Services (GLSS) has also partnered with clinicians to provided free blood pressure monitoring at their Million Hearts Kiosk and a range of Falls Prevention services including home safety assessments, exercise and balance classes and home modifications such as installing hand rails if needed.

Former State Representative, Steven Walsh, one of the original architects of the PWTF, was present as well as staff from the Department of Public Health and many other interested members of the community.

Lori Berry, Executive Director of LCHC, concluded the presentation by asking the audience for input on how to continue to raise awareness of the PWTF programs in Lynn and promote their value long-term to legislatures.

Jean Zotter, Director of PWTF, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, thanked the audience for their hard work and support. She said Lynn is making good strides with their program referrals and has enrolled over 400 clients since the grant started a year ago. The state will track and evaluate the vast amount of data reported from Lynn on all PWTF clients with the help of Harvard Catalyst and will hope to demonstrate results next year.

For more information please contact MaryAnn O’Connor, (781)-598-4000 x 6828.

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