October 23, 2018
Underserved Texans across the state will receive flu shots, health screenings, and other care thanks to $16,500 in Texas Medical Association Foundation (TMAF) grant funds for health-improvement projects. The funds will help physicians, TMA volunteers, and their community collaborators provide flu vaccinations, promote early literacy and health for children, offer health screenings for underserved people, and help homeless people quit smoking. TMAF awarded the funds to a county medical society, four TMA Medical Student Section (TMA-MSS) chapters, and a county chapter of the TMA Alliance (TMAA is made up of physician members and their spouses who volunteer for TMA outreach programs). The 2018-19 TMAF Medical Community Grant Programs fund health-improvement projects that increase people’s health care access and education in local communities.
“Many Texans who may not have access to health care will now be protected from the flu and given preventive care thanks to these beneficial programs,” said Leslie Secrest, MD, president of TMAF. “I congratulate the 2018-19 grant recipients for finding ways to meet the needs of people in their communities who might otherwise go without.”
This year’s grant recipients are (in alphabetical order):
- The Baylor College of Medicine TMA-MSS chapter received a grant of $2,000 to help address health care disparities among the refugee population in Harris County. The school, along with local nonprofit refugee resettlement agencies, will host the annual Baylor-Alliance Refugee Wellness Fair, where refugees will receive medical care, learn about preventative health, and discover how to navigate the Harris Health System. “If Houston were its own country, it would rank 4th in the world for refugee resettlement,” said Faheem Bilal, co-chair of the Alliance Refugee Health Fair and member of Baylor’s TMA-MSS chapter. “In a time when one-tenth of the U.S. population is uninsured, the compounding factors that affect refugees can only be alleviated by medical and health care education.”
- The Bell County Medical Society (BCMS) Alliance in Temple received a $2,500 grant to encourage early literacy and overall health and wellness among children, through the Texas Bookshare literacy program. Program partners from TMAA, Give More HUGS, and Baylor Scott & White Health will focus on helping low-income youths. “Reading to children can help develop a child’s language development and love for reading,” said BCMS Alliance member Lisa Drever. “Children in low-income communities often times do not have access to books at home, and one in four children in American grow up without learning how to read.”
- Lamar-Delta County Medical Society (Lamar-Delta CMS) in Paris will use the $3,000 TMAF grant to combat the season’s influenza threat by continuing its “Drive on Thru — Prevent the Flu” shot clinic for the fifth year. Along with the Paris-Lamar County Health District and six other community partners, 400 people 18 years of age and older will receive flu shots via drive-thru lanes at a local partnering bank. “This ‘nurse-comes-to-you’ concept will provide an easier access to receiving this much needed vaccine in the comforts of your own vehicle without getting out of your car,” said Amanda Green, MD, with the Lamar-Delta CMS. The shot clinic prioritizes serving elderly people and rural community members.
- Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine TMA-MSS chapter will use $3,000 in TMAF Community Grant funding to add Hepatitis C tests to the Aggie Health Project’s health maintenance screenings for homeless and low-income people in Temple and Bell County. For the second year, the medical school is teaming up with Martha’s Clinic, Texas A&M’s student-run free clinic, for these screenings. Anyone who tests positive will receive care at Baylor Scott & White Health. “Most of the rural patients we serve are susceptible to catching communicable diseases” said Luis Seija, chair of the TMA-MSS chapter at Texas A&M. “By being screened and learning more about health care, these residents can feel more assured about where they stand with respect to their health.”
- The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT-Southwestern) TMA-MSS chapter will receive $3,000 to implement a program to stop Dallas’ homeless community from using tobacco. “While 14 percent of adults above the poverty level smoke, about three-quarters of homeless adults smoke. Yet eight in 10 of them want to quit smoking,” said Al Gilani, president of the UT-Southwestern TMA-MSS chapter. Homeless people at Union Gospel Mission — a local shelter — will have access to support groups and medical treatment, while medical students will teach them about smoking cessation. “Medical students need additional training in this topic, and through this program they will learn how to help their patients as physicians,” Mr. Gilani said.
- The TMA-MSS chapter at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) was awarded $3,000 for the upcoming 3rd Annual HOPE (Helping Others Through Partnered Empowerment) Health Fair in Galveston. At least 250 people, especially those who are homeless and uninsured, will receive vaccines, health screenings, and a meal at St. Vincent’s Student Clinic. “Medical students will screen for diabetes, hypertension, obesity, depression, anxiety, physical function, and dental needs,” said Vamsi Potluri, president of the UTMB TMA-MSS chapter. “This year, dental health will be provided for the first time, to provide care for patients who have not had a dental check in many years.” The Family Medicine Interest Group and Gold Humanism Honor Society are co-sponsoring the event.
Each year, local county medical society physicians and alliance volunteers may apply for up to $7,500 in matching funds from the TMAF Medical Community Grant Program to help their communities. Medical student chapters may apply for up to $3,000 in matching funds from the TMAF Medical Student Community Leadership Grants Program. The TMAF board approved the grant funding during its meeting at the TMA Fall Conference in September.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 51,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans. The TMA Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization that raises funds to support the population health, science, and quality-of-care priority initiatives of TMA and the Family of Medicine.
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