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THT Medicaid Grants Tackle Trauma, Food Access, Housing

Trenton, NJ —Trenton Health Team grants are supporting mobile food pantries, yoga, home improvements, health care innovations – and more!—aimed at improving the health and well-being of Trenton residents.
THT is a designated Regional Health Hub for Medicaid, a state-federal program funding health care for low-income patients. THT in May awarded grants totaling about $145,000 to seven community-based nonprofits helping Trenton residents address complex health concerns ranging from long-term effects of trauma to bed bugs.
“We know health depends on more than medical care,” said Gregory Paulson, executive director of Trenton Health Team. “Our Vision for a Healthy Trenton includes access to healthy food, housing and quality healthcare and the grants support new ways of tackling Trenton’s health challenges.”
Agencies receiving grants already are making a difference for clients:
Arm in Arm is offering mobile food pantries to serve more people at convenient times in accessible locations. The first mobile pantry event at North 25 attracted 48 clients, including 44 who had never visited the pantry, said Margaret Cowell, Director of Operations.
“We wanted to reach a different set of people who can’t make it to our bricks and mortar pantry during our regular hours,” Cowell said. “The grant is helping us achieve our goal of reaching people who cannot get to us.”
Helping Arms, Inc. has hired a nurse educator and is exploring new ways to help clients connect with needed services, such as health screenings, and develop healthy and supportive relationships. While Mercer County offers many resources, access can be daunting for individuals moving from homelessness into transitional and single-room-occupancy housing, said Donald Weinbaum, Program Consultant.
“When you are homeless and focused on surviving day-today, you pay less attention to long-term implications and health,” Weinbaum said. “We’re starting to make a difference, getting residents connected to people and services that can help them manage problems they know they have, but don’t know how to address.”
Henry J. Austin Health Center is teaming up with Uberhealth to provide transportation for Trenton residents to healthcare visits when they are unable to secure other services. In a recent HJAHC survey, 26% of patients reported difficulty keeping appointments due to transportation challenges.
Isles, Inc. is initiating healthy homes assessments to identify and address health and safety issues to improve asthma control and reduce emergency department visits. Unsafe and unhealthy housing conditions in Trenton neighborhoods generate serious issues for occupants, such as asthma, allergies, lead poisoning, bed bugs and other risks such as tobacco smoke.
“The process is underway and we’re eager to move forward,” said Peter Rose, Isles Managing Director, Community Enterprises.
Medina Community Clinic is partnering with the Henry J. Austin Health Center on a new way to connect Medicaid patients with medical specialists through their primary care physicians. Providing e-consults will save time and money, plus address the troublesome lack of patient access to specialty care that often leads to complications and poor outcomes, said Sharif Braxton, Medina Executive Director.
“Instead of sending a patient to a specialist for consultation, the physician can consult with the specialist for treatment advice and determine if a patient needs to visit,” Braxton said. “This will free up appointments for those who really need in-person care and be more efficient and effective for both patients and clinicians.”
The Rescue Mission of Trenton is providing a case manager to guide homeless clients through the complicated and time-consuming process of applying for General Assistance and/or being assessed for Immediate Need support. Such benefits provide a regular source of income and are crucial to moving clients from the shelter to stable housing, said Aimee Maier, Team Care Coordinator.
“It’s a complicated process…They are going to need a birth certificate…They have to apply in person. They’ve gone through a lot of trauma (and ) the chaos of living in a shelter makes it really hard to manage all of this,” Maier said. “The case manager is the individual’s partner in getting the income they need to move toward housing.”
UIH Family Partners is training staff and providing new programs, such as yoga and mindfulness exercises that have been shown to mitigate effects of trauma, to better support clients, generally men relying on General Assistance benefits. Many clients have endured sexual abuse, substance abuse, depression or PTSD, said Karen Andrade-Mims, Executive Director. Developing a more empathetic understanding of client experience can strengthen relationships and improve outcomes.
“You can’t prepare a person for a job if he is having issues that prevent (him) from being functional,” Andrade-Mims said. “Yoga helps center people so they can let go of some things. It creates focus and discipline…and builds self-confidence.”
THT Community Health Improvement Project grants are designed to encourage innovations that will transform care to better meet the full range of health challenges facing patients.
“We are proud to see these grants making a real difference for Trenton residents,” Paulson added. “We applaud their creativity and look forward to learning from their success.”