The grants will focus on some of the conditions with the greatest disparities in the region, said Nisha Patel, director of the Community Based Division of the Office of Rural Health Policy. The Delta region encompasses parts of eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. In previous versions of the grants, the requirements were more open-ended, Patel said.
In addition, the grants require that the applicants include collaboration between organizations in multiple counties and parishes as part of their proposal. The goal is to encourage “creative and lasting relationships” among service providers and health systems in the targeted rural areas covered by the Delta States program, according to the application. “The consortium piece is really key,” Patel said.
And in awarding the grants, the Office of Rural Health Policy will give preference to applicants employing proven approaches, reflecting a broader priority of the office to support evidence-based programs.
The applicant programs should aim to improve one or more of the following: attitudes among the public regarding their ability to improve health; behavior of individuals, such as increasing exercise or improving eating habits; health of residents as measured by such things as weight or blood pressure; systems of care or prevention; knowledge among residents of self-management strategies and disease risk factors; and policies and procedures.
Another unusual addition to the grant is that applicants may seek to include workplace chronic health improvement strategies as part of an add-on grant of $500,000 from the Delta Regional Authority, a federal-state partnership focused on improving the economy.
“Business needs a healthy workforce,” said Christopher Masingill, federal co-chairman of the authority, which is supplying the supplemental grants through what it calls the Healthy Workforce Challenge. The economic development funds are intended to allow grant awardees in the federal program to also apply their efforts in a workplace setting, Masingill said. “It's a good fit.”
The federal grant applications are due March 18, and the Delta Regional Authority requires that a separate letter of intent to apply for their funds be sent by Feb. 15.