News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, December 5, 2013
Healthy Peninsula awarded $40,000 to promote healthy aging

by Anne Berleant

Healthy Peninsula was one of eight organizations in Maine awarded “Thriving in Place” grants by the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF), an independent private nonprofit health foundation.

The $40,000 grants aim to promote better patient care to help people with chronic conditions, including the elderly and persons with disabilities, to maintain their health so they can remain in their homes and/or communities. In Hancock County, Bucksport Bay Healthy Communities Coalition was also awarded a “Thriving in Place” grant.

“The successful project proposals were ones that will use a variety of tested and creative strategies to tackle the expensive over-reliance on hospitals and assisted living facilities to care for older and disabled people with chronic health conditions,” said Dr. Becky Hayes Boober, the MeHAF Senior Program Officer who is overseeing the Thriving in Place program, in a November 8 press release.

Healthy Peninsula’s Healthy Aging Workgroup worked on the grant proposal, said Director Denise Black, with her assistance. The workgroup is composed of community and HP advisory board members.

“They did a great job,” Black said.

Healthy Peninsula’s proposal, “Thriving Downeast,” is centered around a partnership of 10 local and regional organizations that already provide a broad cross-section of health and social services: Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, Hancock County HomeCare and Hospice, Hospice Volunteers of Hancock County, Coastal Care Team, Atlantic Mental Health Center, Eastern Area Agency on Aging, Penobscot Bay Press, Washington Hancock Community Agency and its programs At Home Down East and Friendship Cottage.

Healthy Peninsula’s role will be to assess the needs of individuals living on the Blue Hill Peninsula, Deer Isle and Stonington, and help “knit together” available medical, behavioral, social and community services for those at highest risk.

The one-year grant is a kick-start to Healthy Peninsula’s new Healthy Aging Initiative. Critical to the success of this project is hearing from the people who will benefit most, Black said. “Their voices are often not heard in discussions about the challenges they face and the services they need.”

A new public health project coordinator position is being filled; the new hire will “roll out the work plan,” Black said.

“As the state with the oldest population and one of the highest rates of disability in the nation, there’s a pressing need to plan now for strategies that can help people, particularly those who are older, stay healthy and receive needed care and support at home,” said Dr. Wendy Wolf, President and CEO of MeHAF.

The award is a planning grant, with the possibility of a second award to implement the partnership work plan over three years.

“[This is] aligned with work we were engaged in with BHMH and patient-centered health care,” said Black. “It was a real fit.”

Healthy Peninsula is a program of Child and Family Opportunities, Inc., and partners with BHMH and EMHS to promote health in western Hancock County. For additional information, contact Healthy Peninsula at 374-3257 or info@healthypeninsula.org.