Grants Awarded to Tackle Social Impacts of COVID in Ohio


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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Some new funding is coming into Ohio to help address some of the social determinants of health impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seven community-based organizations will share in nearly $600,000 in Empowering Health grants from UnitedHealthcare to help provide access to care and supports in underserved communities.

CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Ohio Mike Roaldi says nonmedical issues such as food, housing and transportation influence nearly 80% of a person's health.

"This is really just about finding ways to look at the whole person and invest in organizations that treat those things that are outside the traditional lane of health care to improve overall health," says Roaldi.

Roaldi says the money will go to programs that will assist Ohioans struggling with challenges stemming from the pandemic, including social distancing, food insecurity and behavioral health issues.

The Ohio Association of Foodbanks and Senior Citizens Resources will receive money to expand emergency food assistance; Providence House in Cleveland is getting funding for a bus pass program for families; and $95,000 in grants will support the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.

Roaldi notes that another key focus is addressing the rising mental and behavioral health challenges experienced among children and teens during the pandemic.

"The Ohio Children's Alliance is helping to equip nonprofit behavioral health providers to deliver tele-behavioral health services," says Roaldi. "So getting access to the kind of support that kids need at the right time when they're in some sort of a mental-health crisis."

The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation also is receiving a grant for mental-health training and the Better Health Partnership is getting money to improve screenings for children with mental and behavioral health issues.

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