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Riverwest Health Initiative Receives $450,000 Grant

The Riverwest Health Initiative (RHI) announced on December 17 that they have received a $450,000 grant from the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program. The grant will fund the creation of a Riverwest Community Health Liaison position, staffed by a community health nurse. This person will provide a “face” of the RHI to the 2,000 homes in the Riverwest neighborhood. The project is based on the model of the successful 10-year-old Community Partners program. Partners go door-to-door in the neighborhood, building relationships, gathering and distributing information and working to resolve issues. In the past year, RHI partnered with this program by having Columbia St. Mary resident physicians go door-to-door with Mark McInerney, Riverwest’s Community Partner, to answer questions and learn about health-related needs in the neighborhood. The Health Liaison will build on the information already gathered in this program, with a goal of creating files for each household and providing frontline information to inform the RHI health improvement process. The Liaison will also provide referrals to health resources in the neighborhood, and solicit direct input and volunteer support from residents. Additional Objectives The grant will also be used to increase usage of neighborhood service providers. Objectives for the first year include: •  On-site immunizations offered at neighborhood schools •  Increased use of Columbia St. Mary free clinic and Riverwest Pierce Community Nursing Center •  Weekend and evening programming and services at COA Family Resource Center •  Increased youth and family participation in trainings, workshops, events via COA, Peace Learning Center, Community Partners, and Fighting Back and others, to reduce and prevent Riverwest crime, juvenile and domestic violence, and substance abuse. A community health assessment will also be funded by the grant, which will identify and prioritize community strengths and needs, and a strategic health plan will be created to address those needs. Current cummunity partners in the Riverwest Health Initiative include Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital, Columbia St. Mary’s Family Health Center, COA Youth and Family Centers, Franklin Pierce School, Holmes Elementary School, Peace Learning Center, SDC Community Partners, UW Milwaukee College of Nursing, UWM Riverwest Pierce Community Nursing Center. Academic partner is Jim Sanders, MD, MPH, of Family and Community Medicine Dept., Medical College of Wisconsin. For more information about the grant or the Riverwest Community Health Initiative, contact Tom Schneider, Executive Director, COA Youth and Family Centers. ~