January 30, 2021
Honored groups target health disparities
AUSTIN — Thousands of underserved Texans in Dallas/Fort Worth and Galveston will have access to health care, locally grown food, and COVID-19 testing thanks to the three special health care nonprofits presented the Texas Medical Association Foundation’s (TMAF’s) John P. McGovern Champion of Health Awards for 2021. TMAF presented the awards to the honorees on Saturday at the TMA Winter Conference, held virtually from Austin.
- First-place TMAF Champion of Health recipient: Union Gospel Mission Student Run Clinic & Outreach, for its Dallas Patient Navigator Program. The program helps people experiencing homelessness in the Dallas area access local health resources (details below).
- The two secondary awards honorees:
- Seeding Galveston Urban Farm Project (with help from student and physician volunteers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston), which provides fresh food for Galveston’s low-income population (details below), and
- The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth COVID-19 Solutions Project, which furnishes the community with COVID-19 testing, face masks, and meals (details below).
The awards honor exceptional projects that address urgent public health threats as TMAF aims to help physicians create a healthier future for all Texans. The first-place recipient receives $7,500, and the second-place honorees each receive $3,000. The funds help sustain or enhance the winning programs.
“The TMA Foundation recognizes the change each of these outreach programs is spearheading to strengthen the overall health of their communities,” said Susan Pike, MD, president of TMA’s philanthropic arm. “We are honored to support these groups and their efforts to make Texas a healthier place to live.”
TMAF Champion of Health Top Award: Union Gospel Mission Student Run Clinic & Outreach Dallas Patient Navigator Program
Union Gospel Mission (UGM) is a community ministry that shelters people and families experiencing homelessness and provides health care in its Dallas clinics. Its Dallas Patient Navigator Program trains 85 UT Southwestern TMA Medical Student Chapter students to guide patients through its care system. The medical students set short-term health goals with each patient. Together they explore local community resources patients can access to improve and maintain good health. The students learn about barriers underserved patients must overcome when seeking medical treatment. Through this program, patients receive consistent primary and preventive care rather than going to hospitals for urgent treatment, a common occurrence for people experiencing homelessness. The Patient Navigator Program serves 50 people at two UGM shelters each year. Organizers hope one day to expand their offering to long-term care for some enrollees.
“Thank you so much to the TMA Foundation for recognizing us. I know that [the award] will be used for good at the shelters,” said Patti Pagels, physician assistant and former associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UT Southwestern. “The students have worked so hard in this program; we’re really lucky to have these doctors that are coming out, contributing to these charity clinics. I’m just in awe of them.”
Secondary Award: Seeding Galveston Urban Farm Project – 100 Kitchen Gardens and Working Farm Suppers
Volunteers at the Seeding Galveston Urban Farm Project are tackling food insecurity in Galveston with their 100 Kitchen Gardens initiative. This project provides underprivileged neighbors with fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables through gardens and local farm stands. Physicians and medical students at UT Medical Branch join other volunteers tending the gardens while teaching residents how to grow their own food.
Seeding Galveston launched the program in October 2018 and has grown to nearly 100 gardens. Seeding Galveston also hopes the TMAF grant will help it lessen the food insecurity that has worsened due to COVID-19.
“This [grant] starts the wheels rolling toward expanding both physical and educational support to the new kitchen gardeners and allows us to create prototypes of alternative gardening systems accommodating the changing needs of the community,” said Seeding Galveston co-founders Deborah Grant and John Sessions. “With continued financial support, the 100 Kitchen Gardens project will empower more and more people with the skills and knowledge to grow organic healthy food, replacing a food culture of need and insecurity [with] one of hope and abundance.”
Secondary Award: The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth COVID-19 Solutions Project
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical students, faculty, and staff at The University of North Texas Health Science Center’s (UNTHSC’s) COVID-19 Solutions Project have worked the front lines to help care for the community. Since March 2020, more than 300 medical student volunteers have given COVID-19 tests to nearly 3,100 first responders and community members. One hundred volunteers also made and donated nearly 8,000 face masks to those in need, to stop the spread of the virus. Hundreds more student volunteers have operated a COVID-19 hotline alongside Tarrant County Public Health, answering more than 8,000 calls from the community and performing contact tracing.
The students also provided meals to more than 54,000 underserved Tarrant County residents.
“Our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners all did so much in response to the pandemic, and we are ready to do so much more,” said Noah Drew, UNTHSC associate vice president for institutional advancement. “We are beyond grateful to receive the John P. McGovern Champion of Health award and we look forward to continuing our community-based efforts.”
TMAF named its Champion of Health award after the late John P. McGovern, MD, a philanthropist, scholar, and noted allergist who founded the John P. McGovern Foundation in Houston. Dr. McGovern established a permanent endowment at TMAF, which supports this award.
TMAF named the award after the late John P. McGovern, MD, a philanthropist, scholar, and noted allergist who founded the John P. McGovern Foundation in Houston. Dr. McGovern established a permanent endowment at TMAF, which supports this award.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 55,000 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 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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Contact: Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320
Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336
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