Grant offers major boost to families in Winchester
Posted: February 16, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — An organization that works to prevent low birth weights, infant mortality, teen pregnancies and similar challenges will be able to help 100 new families and hire additional staff through a $520,600 grant, local health officials announced Friday.
Healthy Families Northern Shenandoah Valley (HFNSV) will use the grant money to help families in Winchester and Warren County through health screenings and in-home visits, according to HFNSV Executive Director Sara Schoonover-Martin.
According to Mark Merrill, president and chief executive officer of Valley Health, said Winchester Medical Center is scheduled to receive the grant money this month — since it is the host agency for Healthy Families. He made the announcement Friday morning at the Top of Virginia Chamber’s Community Leadership Program on the Our Health Campus at 329 N. Cameron St.
Valley Health operates several hospitals and health facilities in the region, including WMC and Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal, which will also benefit from the grant.
“Healthy Families starts [assisting parents] prenatally, which will help to impact the infant mortality and low birth weight,” Schoonover-Martin said.
While HFNSV serves Winchester and Frederick, Clarke and Warren counties, the 14-month grant — part of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program and made possible through funds from the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and local community partnerships — will only serve families in Winchester and Warren County, Schoonover-Martin said.
Those communities were part of a Virginia Department of Health needs assessment in 2010 that reviewed each locality in the state.
“The city of Winchester and Warren County were two of 38 communities that were identified [as at-risk communities], and it was based on poor birth outcomes, child maltreatment, poverty, high school dropout [rates] domestic violence, substance abuse and juvenile crime that were all higher than the state average for our localities,” Schoonover-Martin said.
She stressed that Winchester and Warren County stood out from the state average for infant mortality, teenage pregnancy and low birth weight.
During 2012, Healthy Families was able to screen and assess 635 first-time parents at WMC and Warren Memorial for parenting needs and refer them to community support services. It also served 106 families through in-home visitation services.
In addition to enabling Healthy Families to help more patients, the grant funding will allow the organization to hire seven full-time staff members to conduct home visitation outreach.
Schoonover-Martin said she wanted to thank the 22 community organizations — including WMC, Warren Memorial, Our Health, the City of Winchester Department of Social Services, the Winchester Police Department, the Lord Fairfax Health District and local elected officials — that provided letters of support for the grant application.
— Contact Matt Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org