WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) announced that the Health Resources and Services Administration has awarded a $300,000 grant to the Maryland Area Health Education Center (AHEC) West in Cumberland, Maryland. AHEC West serves Appalachian counties in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia on health care issues.
Their mission is to support healthcare practice transformation through increased collaboration among hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, private practices, health departments, Accountable Care Organizations, and community-based organizations. These efforts should assist in driving down healthcare costs and improving population health.
“Your zip code should not dictate the quality of health care available to you and your family. Far too many people in rural Maryland are unable to access the full range of care they need and deserve because of where they live. AHEC is working to solve that problem,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Committee on Finance Health Care Subcommittee. “Federal investments in collaborative care have been shown to not only improve patient care experiences and outcomes, but also reduce overall health care costs. It’s a clear win for the greater health of Western Maryland.”
“AHEC West has a long track record of serving rural communities in Western Maryland, and this grant will expand their work and allow them to focus on issues like mental health and the opioid epidemic,” said Senator Van Hollen, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “As we work to improve our health care system – and fight any efforts to dismantle it – the work of community-based organizations like AHEC West is integral to our success.”
Specific issues being addressed in this grant include conducting a needs assessment summit for healthcare provider organizations regarding practice transformation and improved population health, and training and deploying Community Health Workers, Peer Recovery Specialists (addictions and behavioral health), Healthcare Insurance Enrollment Assisters, and Community Dental Health Coordinators. This will help reduce emergency department usage and help underserved populations with dental care, behavioral health and addictions interventions, and the appropriate use of health insurance. Partners include health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers, law enforcement, private practice dentists and physicians, public housing, County United Way, Allegany Health Right, and hospitals.